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.
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