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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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”