In golf, as in anything, the only way to advance toward your goals requires putting in the time to hone your craft.
But how do you know if the amount of time you’re committing will be enough?
Clearly, there is no way to determine how much work it will take to become an elite — level golfer. For some people, it may take more lessons than expected to fully adopt the swing change they’ve been working on. And others might take to it immediately. What I will tell you, however, is there’s a big number to keep in mind throughout the process: 10,000 hours.
We’re talking 10,000 hours of practice, that is.
The book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell includes many interesting facts about some of the world’s most successful people and focuses on what sets them apart. A common link among the greats is the idea that achieving expertise in any profession takes a minimum of 10,000 hours of work.
Gladwell lists notable beneficiaries of this monumental 10,000-hour “practice time” ranging across a variety of professions. Some are industry giants in the technology world, others are top professional athletes or musicians. They are some of the most successful people in their field, and all attribute a huge portion of their success to the hours they dedicate to their craft.
Most golfers are more than ready to win tournaments and hit great shots, but how many are prepared to do the work required to get there? How is that massive amount of time devoted to a sport possible? If you have the desire to get to the top at any profession, you will need to find a way.
I have attempted here to break down what the journey might look like for a golfer beginning at age 6 on the road to reaching 10,000 hours dedicated to the game by the time he or she graduates from college.
Living in a location like Chicago makes this more difficult due to the weather, but it can be done. Here is an outline of what it might look like for a player who wants to hit the 10,000 mark by college graduation.
Ages 6-11: A junior golfer will hit balls at the range twice a week and play once per week in the summer, while hitting balls once a week indoors in the winter (practice in one-hour sessions, playing for 4 hours). This equals 200 hours per year for six years, which totals 1,200 hours.
Ages 12-18: The player will double that amount and add one more playing round per week during the summer months. This equals 364 hours per year for 7 years (2,548 hours). Adding in about 12-15 tournaments per year every year equals an additional 500 hours. With this level of practice, a player can reasonably expect to become a college golfer. The total now becomes 4,348 hours.
Ages 19-22: College golfers are expected to practice or play 30 hours per week in season and 20 hours per week out of season. Following this model for four years will add 5,200 hours. The total amount by graduation equals 9,248 hours, which is just short of the 10,000 hour mark.
Intersperse extra time spent off the golf course on things like regular lessons, training sessions, and outside competition and one can hit the 10,000-hour mark by the time a collegiate golf career concludes.
• Ian Grant is a PGA Teaching Professional and a former member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He teaches at Oak Brook Golf Club during the summer and McQ’s Golf Dome in the winter. Contact Ian at Iansgolf@aol.com.
For more information, visit IPGA.com
• With assistance from the Illinois PGA, the Daily Herald provides golf tips each Wednesday from a PGA Professional.