Golf is unlike most sports in my opinion, in that with football for example, if you are not over 6 feet with a great arm, great decision making, ballerina like footwork, with mental toughness, you are not going to be an NFL quarterback (for the most part). Thus if you do not play high school or college football, and you lack the physical/mental traits, you know you definitely are not going to play in the NFL anytime in the future.
With golf, it's so different. I was watching an interview on GC with Lee Westwood and his father at Pebble Beach. They are going to play together in the pro-am. Lee and his father started golf at the same time together and in just 6 years, he went from never hitting a golf ball in his life to being a pro golfer on the European Tour. Lee is built solidly and is right around 6 feet. Aside from that though there is nothing that jumps out at you that tells one that the potential is there for him to be the number 1 golfer in the world.
How can you get an estimation on what your maximum golf potential is? Why do I ask? To me it's important for me to know because if I know that I've "over-acheived" if I get my hc down to 5 for example, that's critical to know. Just like most of you out there if you were to find out that you had the potential to be a scratch golfer or better, chances are that would be something that you would not only want to know but also use to motivate yourself to practice and work on your game even more!
I understand that there is no magic forumula that tells you what each persons ultimate best handicap is or anything like that, but there has to be a way to estimate maximum potential with a certain degree of confidence instead of randomly guessing.
For example, I ran cross-country and indoor/outdoor track in college on scholarship at a D-1 NCAA school. After my dreams of being quarterback for the New York Giants were shattered (I realized when I was 15 or 16 that it was not going to happen, also because I did not even play football anymore), I dreamed of competing in the 1500 meters in the Olympics for the USA. By the end of my college career, I had posted some pretty good times, but, I knew that being a professional or even running in the Olympics was not going to happen. I had not even broken 4 minutes in the mile and my 400m speed (used as a good rule of thumb or indicator of what your fastest 1500m or mile time would be) was not even close. That is when I figured that I had reached my maximum potential in track and since that was the case, I stopped running after college.
So that's what I am looking for.....how do I know how to figure out how good at golf I can be?