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how many hours does it take to get good at golf ?

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The following golf story is about my 17 year old son, Spencer.

From the time he was in a baby stroller I took him to driving ranges. He got some sunshine and, or, napped while I struck balls for a 40 minutes. Later, from about age 4-11, Spencer would use the different clubs I picked up for him to strike balls along side me at the driving range. For each of those seven years Spencer probably put in 12 hours of driving range , chipping and putting green time. I would take him on average once per month and we would stay at the course for an hour each time.

Early on Spencer learned a traditional, fundamentally sound grip-posture-alignment. Consequently, the swing he naturally developed over these years looked attractive, like an accomplished player might have.

Once Spencer turned 12 years old he continued to visit a driving range on average of once per month, and I began taking him to play par 3 courses five or six times per year as well. 

During his 14th summer he took 3 lessons from a PGA pro , visit driving ranges and putting greens, and he began for the first time to play full length regulation courses. The last couple of years, as a 15 and 16 year old, he has had a lesson with a PGA teaching pro each year,  averaged about 15 hours per year of riving range-chipping-putting green practice, and also each year played 7 to 8 rounds at a par 3 course, as well as 5 or 6 rounds at full length regulation courses.

In summary, from age 4 to his current age 17, Spencer has put in roughly 250 golf related hours:

 

170 hours driving range-chipping green-putting green

80 hours playing either par 3 or full length regulation courses.

4 to 5 hours of lessons from a PGA teaching professional.

 

The golf performance result of the above hours is that now 17 year old Spencer shoots somewhere between 95 and 110 on a  par 72, 6,500 yard course.

Spencer is an above average athlete. From age 5 to 10 he spent four hours per week at a karate studio en route to earning a 2nd degree black belt. From age 11-13 he performed well on his grammar school soccer, basketball, and baseball teams. For the past 3 years he has been a high school student, each Fall playing on the football team (offensive tackle and defensive end) and during the Spring he competes for the track team ( throwing the shot put, discus, running 200 meter sprints, and 4X100 relays).

Throughout his years Spencer never "got the golf bug", he has visited the  the range or played rounds only when I asked him to do so. Once there he seemed to enjoy himself reasonably well, but not as much as he does playing other sports. Sensing his preference for other sports, I have tried to be a "good father" and not push him too much towards golf. He is a great son, I could not imagine having a better one.  :)

Now back to the original question........."how many hours does it take to get good at golf"?

Based on my own experience as a junior player, including knowing kids who dedicated probably 7,500 hours towards golf (during the 6 years from age 12-17), driving range-chipping-putting green-junior tournament play etc... to be able to consistently shoot par by age 17. And others less naturally gifted who put in the same 7,500 hours but only achieved performance of about 75-78 scoring average. Other kids who "liked golf" but didn't love, or because of other reasons could not commit so much time to the game, maybe put in 3,000 hours during that 6 year , age 12-17 time frame and ended up being high 70's, low 80's scoring players.And all of the above are kids. It's reasonable to believe that kids learning to play golf, or ski, or play a musical instrument have several advantages over adults trying to do the same thing.

The reason I told the story of my son's golf background is that his is one which I have witnessed . For him putting in more than the 250 or so hours he's put in was not something he wanted to do. He had other interests, which is fine.

Maybe later in his life he will want to spend time playing golf, and hopefully the bit he has played up until now will be of some benefit.

The point of the novel I have written here, I think, is that learning and developing golf skills takes a lot of hours. If one wants to call shooting high 70's low 80's "good at golf" I think it is fair to say that for most, this takes a minimum of 3,000 hours, including instruction, driving range, chipping-putting green practice, and playing. And if one wants to consistently shoot around par,  the hours needed probably go up to a minimum of 7,500.

 

Anybody here agree, disagree that there is no short cut of time to get the skill necessary to hit fairways and greens, play a course the way it was designed to be played etc...?

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I think the official answer is that it takes 10,000 hours to become good at something.   But,  "good at golf" is a vague definition and that definition will vary by individual.  As you have mentioned there are a lot of variables and for some people all the dedication and practice will result in their being a mediocre golfer while others with little dedication and no practice/lessons end up being tour pros.    

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Or "The Talent Code".

 

Also read a study somewhere that suggests a MINIMUM of 10,000 hours (yes: TEN Thousand) of focused, dedicated, consistent practice.

 

Your guy Spencer will very clearly be very good at golf later in life, if he so chooses to pursue it.

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Instruction, hours practicing and proper equipment are important. However, the ingredient that separates those that are average and those that excel is passion - living, breathing and continuously thinking about the sport. So while the quoted 10,000 hours is probably right on there is a difference between showing up for practice and being passionate about the the game and the practice to get better.

 

 

 

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The 10,000 hour rule is wrong.  It was put forward by Gladwell in his book "Outliers."  Unfortunately, he got it wrong.  The original studies on which he based his 10,000 rule did not support the conclusion.  The original research was done by Ericsson, the Author of "Peak", mentioned in my post above.  

 

https://www.inc.com/nick-skillicorn/the-10000-hour-rule-was-wrong-according-to-the-people-who-wrote-the-original-stu.html

 

I recommend anyone interested in getting better at golf read "Peak."  While not a golf specific book, it lays out the concept of Deliberate Practice quite well.  A follow up would be to then read a golf specific books, such as "The Practice Manual," "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose" and "Be a Player."

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And then there's Larry Nelson.

 

"Nelson took up golf at the age of 21 after he returned from serving in the infantry in Vietnam (Nelson was a 20-year-old newlywed when he was drafted into the U.S. Army). Nelson was first introduced to golf by Ken Hummel, a soldier and friend in his infantry unit, and Nelson carefully studied Ben Hogan's book The Five Fundamentals of Golf while learning how to play the game. He soon found that he had a talent for the game, breaking 100 the first time he played and 70 within nine months. He went on to turn professional when he was 24, and qualified for the PGA Tour at 27. His breakthrough year came in 1979, when he won twice and finished second on the money list to Tom Watson. Nelson won 10 times on the PGA Tour, including three Major Championships."

Wow ... talk about an "outlier"!
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..Cleveland CBX2 54 (Rotex graphite) and Callaway X-Jaws 60 (TT-DG S300)
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Instruction, hours practicing and proper equipment are important. However, the ingredient that separates those that are average and those that excel is passion - living, breathing and continuously thinking about the sport. So while the quoted 10,000 hours is probably right on there is a difference between showing up for practice and being passionate about the the game and the practice to get better.

 

 

 

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Yes, good point - a passion for what you're doing plus the desire to improve certainly have to be key "ingredients".
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WITB of an "aspiring"  😉 play-ah ...
..Tour Edge Exotics EXS 3W/HL (17*) and EXS 7W (Tensei CK Blue)
..Callaway Big Bertha 4H (Recoil ZTR) and/or Callaway XR 4H (Project X SD)
..PXG 0211 6i-GW (Mitsubishi MMT) 
..Cleveland CBX2 54 (Rotex graphite) and Callaway X-Jaws 60 (TT-DG S300)
..Evnroll ER5 (33", 385g)
..all in a Datrek Hybrid bag on a Bag Boy Quad XL push cart.

Forum Member tester for the ExPutt Putting Simulator

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The 10,000 hour rule is wrong. It was put forward by Gladwell in his book "Outliers." Unfortunately, he got it wrong. The original studies on which he based his 10,000 rule did not support the conclusion. The original research was done by Ericsson, the Author of "Peak", mentioned in my post above.

 

https://www.inc.com/nick-skillicorn/the-10000-hour-rule-was-wrong-according-to-the-people-who-wrote-the-original-stu.html

 

I recommend anyone interested in getting better at golf read "Peak." While not a golf specific book, it lays out the concept of Deliberate Practice quite well. A follow up would be to then read a golf specific books, such as "The Practice Code," "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose" and "Be a Player."

Good article .. thx!

WITB of an "aspiring"  😉 play-ah ...
..Tour Edge Exotics EXS 3W/HL (17*) and EXS 7W (Tensei CK Blue)
..Callaway Big Bertha 4H (Recoil ZTR) and/or Callaway XR 4H (Project X SD)
..PXG 0211 6i-GW (Mitsubishi MMT) 
..Cleveland CBX2 54 (Rotex graphite) and Callaway X-Jaws 60 (TT-DG S300)
..Evnroll ER5 (33", 385g)
..all in a Datrek Hybrid bag on a Bag Boy Quad XL push cart.

Forum Member tester for the ExPutt Putting Simulator

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Wow... only 10,000 hours? 14 months? I think I'll start over. I've must have done it all wrong these past 50 years. Maybe next time I'll peak. LOL

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People all have different athletic abilities, coordination, skill floors, skill ceilings and physical limitations.

 

There is a no answer to this question.

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Back when I got to my best (around a 2 handicap) I was going to the golf course 6 days a week.  I would divide that time up between the course, driving range, wedge range, and chipping green, and always work on my putting while I was there too.  The only reason I didn't go 7 days was because the course was closed on Tuesday for maintenance.  I don't know that I will ever be able to play that much again, but I'm getting out there a couple times a week now so I'm able to pretty much maintain where I am now.  


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As JLukes eluded to earlier in the thread, folks are all different. Heck, you've seen the video of the 6 year old kid with the perfect swing already that's all over Twitter and Instagram? How many hours there? 3?

Point is, most of the hours needed are all dependent upon genetics. Some could spend 50,000 hours and never be better than a 36 handicap, it's just not going to work. Same with me and math... No matter how many hours I spent, it just wouldn't click, thus I'm not an engineer or doctor. Some folks go to college at 16. Again, there's no answer, and there's no magic number, otherwise we'd all spend that specific time and be very good.

 

 

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The following golf story is about my 17 year old son, Spencer.

From the time he was in a baby stroller I took him to driving ranges. He got some sunshine and, or, napped while I struck balls for a 40 minutes. Later, from about age 4-11, Spencer would use the different clubs I picked up for him to strike balls along side me at the driving range. For each of those seven years Spencer probably put in 12 hours of driving range , chipping and putting green time. I would take him on average once per month and we would stay at the course for an hour each time.

Early on Spencer learned a traditional, fundamentally sound grip-posture-alignment. Consequently, the swing he naturally developed over these years looked attractive, like an accomplished player might have.

Once Spencer turned 12 years old he continued to visit a driving range on average of once per month, and I began taking him to play par 3 courses five or six times per year as well. 

During his 14th summer he took 3 lessons from a PGA pro , visit driving ranges and putting greens, and he began for the first time to play full length regulation courses. The last couple of years, as a 15 and 16 year old, he has had a lesson with a PGA teaching pro each year,  averaged about 15 hours per year of riving range-chipping-putting green practice, and also each year played 7 to 8 rounds at a par 3 course, as well as 5 or 6 rounds at full length regulation courses.

In summary, from age 4 to his current age 17, Spencer has put in roughly 250 golf related hours:

 

170 hours driving range-chipping green-putting green

80 hours playing either par 3 or full length regulation courses.

4 to 5 hours of lessons from a PGA teaching professional.

 

The golf performance result of the above hours is that now 17 year old Spencer shoots somewhere between 95 and 110 on a  par 72, 6,500 yard course.

Spencer is an above average athlete. From age 5 to 10 he spent four hours per week at a karate studio en route to earning a 2nd degree black belt. From age 11-13 he performed well on his grammar school soccer, basketball, and baseball teams. For the past 3 years he has been a high school student, each Fall playing on the football team (offensive tackle and defensive end) and during the Spring he competes for the track team ( throwing the shot put, discus, running 200 meter sprints, and 4X100 relays).

Throughout his years Spencer never "got the golf bug", he has visited the  the range or played rounds only when I asked him to do so. Once there he seemed to enjoy himself reasonably well, but not as much as he does playing other sports. Sensing his preference for other sports, I have tried to be a "good father" and not push him too much towards golf. He is a great son, I could not imagine having a better one.  :)

Now back to the original question........."how many hours does it take to get good at golf"?

Based on my own experience as a junior player, including knowing kids who dedicated probably 7,500 hours towards golf (during the 6 years from age 12-17), driving range-chipping-putting green-junior tournament play etc... to be able to consistently shoot par by age 17. And others less naturally gifted who put in the same 7,500 hours but only achieved performance of about 75-78 scoring average. Other kids who "liked golf" but didn't love, or because of other reasons could not commit so much time to the game, maybe put in 3,000 hours during that 6 year , age 12-17 time frame and ended up being high 70's, low 80's scoring players.And all of the above are kids. It's reasonable to believe that kids learning to play golf, or ski, or play a musical instrument have several advantages over adults trying to do the same thing.

The reason I told the story of my son's golf background is that his is one which I have witnessed . For him putting in more than the 250 or so hours he's put in was not something he wanted to do. He had other interests, which is fine.

Maybe later in his life he will want to spend time playing golf, and hopefully the bit he has played up until now will be of some benefit.

The point of the novel I have written here, I think, is that learning and developing golf skills takes a lot of hours. If one wants to call shooting high 70's low 80's "good at golf" I think it is fair to say that for most, this takes a minimum of 3,000 hours, including instruction, driving range, chipping-putting green practice, and playing. And if one wants to consistently shoot around par,  the hours needed probably go up to a minimum of 7,500.

 

Anybody here agree, disagree that there is no short cut of time to get the skill necessary to hit fairways and greens, play a course the way it was designed to be played etc...

how many hours does it take to get good at golf ?

 

Answer: ALL OF THEM!

:P 

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As JLukes eluded to earlier in the thread, folks are all different. Heck, you've seen the video of the 6 year old kid with the perfect swing already that's all over Twitter and Instagram? How many hours there? 3?

Point is, most of the hours needed are all dependent upon genetics. Some could spend 50,000 hours and never be better than a 36 handicap, it's just not going to work. Same with me and math... No matter how many hours I spent, it just wouldn't click, thus I'm not an engineer or doctor. Some folks go to college at 16. Again, there's no answer, and there's no magic number, otherwise we'd all spend that specific time and be very good.

 

 

 

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From "Peak", the chapter "But what about natural talent."  

 

"In our culture, the reason that most nonsigners cannot sing is simply that they never practiced in a way that led them to develop the ability to sing....Could the same thing be true about a subject like math?  There is perhaps no area in which more people will tell you, 'I am no good in...' But a number of successful efforts have shown that pretty much any child can learn math if it is taught in the right way."

 

The author then goes on to talk about a curriculum called Jump Math.  "The program uses the same basic principles found in deliberate practice: breaking learning down into a series of well-specified skills, designing exercises to teach each of those skills in the correct order, and using feedback to monitor progress.  According to teachers who have used the curriculum, this approach has allowed them to teach the relevant math skills to essentially every student, with no one left behind."

 

 

"I have observed gennerally in a variety of fields, not just singing and math, but writing, drawing, tennis, golf: People do not stop learning and improving because they have reached some innate limits on their performance; they stop learning and improving because, for whatever reasons, they stopped practicing--or never started.  There is no evidence that any other wise normal people are born without the innate talent to sing or do math or perform any other skill."   

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The 10,000 hour rule is wrong. It was put forward by Gladwell in his book "Outliers." Unfortunately, he got it wrong. The original studies on which he based his 10,000 rule did not support the conclusion. The original research was done by Ericsson, the Author of "Peak", mentioned in my post above.

 

https://www.inc.com/nick-skillicorn/the-10000-hour-rule-was-wrong-according-to-the-people-who-wrote-the-original-stu.html

 

I recommend anyone interested in getting better at golf read "Peak." While not a golf specific book, it lays out the concept of Deliberate Practice quite well. A follow up would be to then read a golf specific books, such as "The Practice Manual," "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose" and "Be a Player."

I'm glad someone mentioned Gladwell. His 10,000 hour stories from Outliers were convenient data to support his debate; the idea that in conjunction with proper timing, these folks were at the right place at the right time. With this thread, we are discussing psychomotor skills and not the cognitive domain.

 

Gladwell wrote that “No one succeeds at a high level without innate talent, I wrote: “achievement is talent plus preparation.” But the ten-thousand-hour research reminds us that "the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play." In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals. Nobody walks into an operating room, straight out of a surgical rotation, and does world-class neurosurgery. And second—and more crucially for the theme of Outliers—the amount of practice necessary for exceptional performance is so extensive that people who end up on top need help. They invariably have access to lucky breaks or privileges or conditions that make all those years of practice possible.”

 

So, 10,000 hours and proper timing could relate to great success in golf.

 

And with that...beat of luck!

 

 

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I think we could all agree that...10,000 hours of practicing doesn't necessarily mean you'll drop your handicap. 10,000 of objective feedback, proper conditioning and timing and sure, you're setting yourself up for success.

 

 

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Timing, talent, practice, preparation all matter for success in anything.

 

Paul Azinger talks about how he he never broke 70 until his second year of college. It's not just the amount of hours that matters for becoming successful. There are so many other factors to any success story.

 

 

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People all have different athletic abilities, coordination, skill floors, skill ceilings and physical limitations.

 

There is a no answer to this question.

 

 

... Exactly. There are so many variables to playing really good golf. The first hurdle is understanding the principles of hitting a golf ball and how they go against common sense and natural instincts. You want the ball to go high in the air? Obviously you need to scoop the ball and throw it up high right? Common sense tells you this and of course it is the opposite of the truth as spin produces high shots and you have to hit down on the ball or at a minimum straight thru the ball but never with an ascending club head (other than a driver). And seriously, you have a big tree you have to get over and you should hit down on the ball seemingly driving it right into the tree? It just makes no sense if you look at it logically. I see people that have played their entire lives and never get past this first fundamental. 

 

... The second huge hurdle to playing really good golf is not caring about the results but focusing on the shot needed to produce the result. Again it just goes against common sense. My second year playing I bladed another chip because I was looking to see if I hit my spot on the green. Right then I dedicated myself to never looking at where I wanted my chip to go, instead focusing on the shot required to get to there. I allowed my head to rotate slightly but kept my eyes on the ball and where it was long after the ball as gone to a count of 1-2-3. Then allowed my head to swivel up and see where the chip ended up. It took great concentration to break myself of the habit of seeing where my shot ended up, but after about 6 months it became second nature without counting. I see golfers scooping, twisting their bodies and of course looking up well before contact on chips with predictable results. 

 

... And a third hurdle is understanding opposites. Your ball is fading/slicing to the right and you start the ball on the left edge of the fairway only to see it slice all the way to the other side. Again common sense tells you that you need to align more to the left and that causes the ball to turn right even more.

 

... The bottom line is it takes tremendous discipline to play this game well. Most go thru years making the same mistakes over and over again. You have to be dedicated to improving and that usually means a love for the game and a constant desire to get better. Almost always that means a step back to make several steps forward. Yes, athletic ability really helps initially and really good athletes can pick up the game quickly shooting in the mid to upper 80's. But getting into the low 80's or the 70's and lower, takes time and total dedication both physically and even more so mentally. If you have not had days where you considered quitting, only to wake up the next day more dedicated to getting better and doing whatever it takes to do so, you probably aren't invested enough to really get good at the game. 

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Driver:   Cobra Speedzone Xtreme 9* ... Atmos TS Blue 6s
Fw wood: Cobra Speedzone 14.5* ... Atmos TS Blue 7s
Utility:   TaylorMade UDi 18*  ... HZRDUS Black 6.0 85 hy
Irons:    4-Gw Titleist T100-S ... Kuro Kage 105 Tini s-flex
              4-pw TaylorMade P760 ... Recoil Prototype 95 r-flex
Wedges:  SM6 52* F Grind /SM7D & SM8M 58* ... Recoil 110s
Putter:  Newport 2.5 at 33"
Ball:  TaylorMade TP5x

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Wasn't it Ben Hogan who once said: "for every hour you don't practice, you're one hour further away from becoming good" (or words to that effect). Or was it Gary Player? Whatever - practice is the key point we're making here lol.

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