10000 Hours

By Michael FechterOctober 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
Scientists tell us that becoming an expert in any given field is mostly about dedicated practice whether it's golf or microbiology. Great genetics are helpful but it is truly practice, practice, practice that makes you an 'expert.'
 
Scientists in actual lab coats, and perhaps with protractors, have even qualified the amount of practice it takes to become an expert. That number is 10,000 hours.
 
So, Dr. Labcoat is telling you and me, Joe and Josephine Golfer, that with 10,000 hours of concentrated practice, we should be expert golfers even if we are, say, the offspring of a long night of passion between Danny DeVito and Dr. Ruth (which I am not, despite Internet rumors).
 
Well, this has me thinking...have I put in over 10,000 hours of practice into my golfing lifetime?
 
Certainly, I am not a yo-yo expert; though, I am damn good. And I am not an expert basketball player, with my lack of defensive tenacity and inability to box out (though my Age 12 South Carolina Shooting Championship might indicate otherwise).
 
But am I an expert golfer? Hang with me while I do the rudimentary math...
 
Age 9: Beloved father takes me to par-3 course at Pebble Beach. Intoxicated by the flight of the ball and attention of my father, I play two consecutive days.
 
5 hours
 
Age 9-12: Bored in the summertime, I spend many days at putt-putt and eat hundreds of ice cream sandwiches. I acquire dependable putting stroke and love handles. I only wish Augusta National had rails.
 
70 hours per year x 4 years: 280 hours
 
Age 12: Disappointed by my father's lack of interest in my putt-putt talents, I go to the range with Father for 'golf lessons.' I come home frustrated and in tears.
 
2 hours
 
Age 13: Realizing that my basketball career has reached an apex with a series of Church League championships, I again try golf. Impressed by drives sometimes exceeding 100 yards, I start with actual practice in hopes of becoming a golfer
 
Summertime ' 10 weeks at 6 hours a day x 5 days a week: 300 hours
 
Age 14: I practice every day at school in an adjoining horse field. I learn to hit wedges effectively and also step in volumes of horse mess. There is practice after school and the ignoring of homework. My summer is spent playing tournaments and working at the golf course (does not count as practice time).
 
Fall-spring ' 40 weeks at 4 hours a day x 5 days a week: 800 hours.
Summer ' 10 weeks at 5 hours a day x 6 days a week: 300 hours

 
Age 15: I practice during school, practice after school, practice and play tournaments all summer. I have no girlfriend but can get up and down from downhill plugged bunker. (Does not impress girls.)
 
1,100 hours
 
Age 16: As I continue to not have a girlfriend, I play even more golf. I play 10 hours a day during summer. My hands blister from practice, not from not having a girlfriend.
 
1,600 hours
 
Age 17: Girls still find me repulsive; though, my golf game reaches news heights with a 1 handicap. Still does not impress girls.
 
1,600 hours
 
Age 18: I enter college and play on the worst golf team of all time. For whatever reason, girls find me much less repulsive. I play much less golf.
 
Fall-spring ' 40 weeks @ 2 hours a day x 6 days a week: 480 hours.
Summer: 300 hours

 
Age 19: I play even less. My 74 stroke average from high school is now more like 84. The courses are also 7,100 yards instead of high school length of 6,100.
 
700 hours
 
Age 20: I play even less golf, as I am now getting paid to write and perform comedy. Girls are very nice to me. I forget where I even put my golf clubs.
 
300 hours
 
Age 20-45: There are two brief periods of intensive golf: When I got bored with comedy in L.A. and when I got bored in brief marriage.
 
400 hours
 
Which brings us to today, as I try to get in the shape of my former golf self at 17.
 
And as I add up these numbers, I see that I have dedicated 8,167 hours to golf in my life. Its probably not equal to the time I have spent on comedy, girls or orphans, but its still a solid chunk of time chasing a ball across acreage.
 
And as I look at this number I realize that it all makes sense ' 8,167 is a great deal of time, but short of what it takes to be an expert. And I am certainly no expert. But maybe, with this push to once again regain my form...perhaps I can reach that expert phase.
 
But really, can anyone ever be an expert at golf? This is a game that perplexes even our greatest champions. Golf consistently baffles our best men and women even when they surround themselves with full-time caddies, sports psychologists, nutritionists, swing coaches, high-speed motion analysts, massage therapists, chiropractors and teams of accountants. Golf is a game of, at best, momentary command.
 
So, I'm no expert; but one could argue that none of us are, because of the nature of this haphazard game.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
 
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
Related Links:
  • The Gratitude Project
  • Greenway Golf
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.