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Has anyone ever 'figured it out?" ie garbage to glory?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I found myself wondering while reading the board that it's interesting that there doesn't seem to be any accounts of anyone just 'getting it figured out' or 'finally finding the game'

 

It's strange but you would think this kind of thing would happen. Does anyone ever go from a normal crappy men's leauger to top notch amateur or pro? If not, why?

 

It seems to me if it were the case the golf were the kind of thing that you could learn or improve on like a skill you would routinely see people quickly going from a 5 to a +3 handicap but that really is never the case. It seems the best golfers find themselves (quickly) in a situation where they recognize that they are really talented and that drives them to become better or the best but rarely do you find someone that has not been very good for quite some stretch (Say a few years) all of sudden start to get it together and perform at the highest level.

 

After spending years practicing golf now and following a lot of other people's progress I'm starting to think that its an either you have it or you don't situation. It seems rare if not non-existant that someone struggles for a long time as mediocre player and then has some kind of breakthrough where the become one of the best. Is this true and if so why?

post #2 of 30
People certainly do figure it out. Tiger Woods was not a spectacular junior player for years but started to blow out fields in his late teens. Ben Hogan was an irrelevant pro until his 30s.
Myself and im sure others have experienced breakthrus in ballstricking that happen literally overnight.
post #3 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by theworldengine View Post

People certainly do figure it out. Tiger Woods was not a spectacular junior player for years but started to blow out fields in his late teens.
To be fair, Tiger was a late bloomer. As a junior, he was smaller than his competition and lacked the power and distance they possessed. It was part of the reason why he developed such a powerful swing. Once he hit his growth spurt, it was lights out, but his "mediocrity" had more to do with physical limitations than skill.

As to @Williamevanl's point, golf is hard. People don't go from 90's hacker to scratch overnight. It takes work, practice, dedication, and experience; there is no magic bean that will transform your game.

Honestly I'm not sure why you find this odd. Are there other sports where people go from bush league to professional all the time? I would think most, if not all, sports are no different than golf in this respect.
post #4 of 30

Duhhh, the Dan Plan obviously! 

 

JK :-P

post #5 of 30

Most good players started very early so when they were "normal crappy" they were young enough that nobody noticed or cared.

 

Good players that did start later usually had a knack for it (athletic ability or whatever) and they didn't stay in the "normal crappy" group very long.

 

The guy that's been a high handicap player for many years either doesn't have a knack for it, is perfectly happy to play like they do, or simply don't have either the time or the money to really do the things they would need to do to get better.

 

I have a feeling most people fall into the underlined group. It really does take a lot of time if you really want to be good at golf.

 

One day my boss showed me a list he had of the golf handicaps of the CEOs of the top 100 companies in the country and the company profits. The thing that jumped right off of the page was the that the better the profits the worse the golfer and the worse the profits the better the golfer (almost without exception).

post #6 of 30

What MS256 said largely.  But both physical athletic ability and mental aptitude have to play a part.  I think most of the pros and plus handicap type armatures have the golfing athletic ability and the mental aptitude when they start.  I say "golfing athletic ability" because I find it interesting when I see various stars of other sports playing golf.  Some are very good, some... meh, not so much. All have proven athletic ability, but it may not be the type that lends itself to golf or they just may not be able to get the mental/strategic parts of the game going.

 

So to the original question, there are probably some people that were hackers for some years then "got it" and began playing really well, but I bet they are few and far between.  Most that have what it takes (whatever the heck that is, I don't seem to have it) to be plus handicappers' discover that within a short time of taking up the game and get better fairly rapidly. 

 

All of that said, I expect that there are quite a lot of people who play rather poorly for some time then "get it" and become pretty good golfers, meaning somewhere in the mid to upper single digits handicap wise.  That is attainable by practicing and playing smart.

post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Williamevanl View Post
 

I found myself wondering while reading the board that it's interesting that there doesn't seem to be any accounts of anyone just 'getting it figured out' or 'finally finding the game'

 

It's strange but you would think this kind of thing would happen. Does anyone ever go from a normal crappy men's leauger to top notch amateur or pro? If not, why?

 

It seems to me if it were the case the golf were the kind of thing that you could learn or improve on like a skill you would routinely see people quickly going from a 5 to a +3 handicap but that really is never the case. It seems the best golfers find themselves (quickly) in a situation where they recognize that they are really talented and that drives them to become better or the best but rarely do you find someone that has not been very good for quite some stretch (Say a few years) all of sudden start to get it together and perform at the highest level.

 

After spending years practicing golf now and following a lot of other people's progress I'm starting to think that its an either you have it or you don't situation. It seems rare if not non-existant that someone struggles for a long time as mediocre player and then has some kind of breakthrough where the become one of the best. Is this true and if so why?

 

It sort of depends on just what level of "getting it" you mean.  My game went through an overnight epiphany from being a bogey golfer to having the game of a 10 handicapper (it actually took a month and a half for my index to actually improve that far as new low scores were added).  I went from a personal best of 88 to a personal best of 84 to a personal best of 73 over two weekends in the 1989 club championship, and played at a 10 handicap level for most of the next 22 years.  I would shoot 6 or 7 rounds each year in the mid to high 70's, but averaged around 82 to 84.  Just 5 years ago I was playing with the head pro at my home course and was 3 under par through 11 holes.  I finished with a 4 over par 76, and that was my last legitimate round under 80.  I have only played 10 rounds in the last 2½ years because I have no access to a golf course here in the Bahamas.  

 

At age 67, I don't expect my game to ever be what it once was, but when I start playing more regularly later this month, I think I can get it back to the mid to low 80's again.  I am looking forward to living in Colorado again.

 

By the way, my epiphany came with minimal full swing practice - mostly short game chipping and pitching.  I probably could have gotten into mid single digits if I'd ever really figured out the full swing.  My problem was that I preferred playing to practicing, and I was satisfied to be where I was without having to work at it.  I was mostly self taught, and I learned how to play a lot of recovery shots, which kept me mostly out of triple bogey range and worse.  I like to think that I played smart golf and added that to a decent short game and that was what worked for me.

post #8 of 30
No. Nobody EVER "figures out" this game. z7_no.gif

And to be clear, just as soon as you think, or worse, say that you have, the golf gods will hand you a beat-down of epic proportions!
post #9 of 30

I think quite a few golfers "figure it out" and are able to play the game to what ever competitive value they are capable of. Some folks are just going to be able to score lower than others regardless of how much instruction, and/or practice they put into the game. Let's not forget the other side of the coin. Those golfers who do figure it out, will lose it at some point, and will need to figure it out again.

 

I read a book some years ago that had a theory, that a person's genetic timing barrier is what makes them the best they can be, at whatever they are trying to achieve. Part of the book discussed sports that involved balls. One example given was why can't a championship golfer become a championship baseball player? 

 

I always like that thought in the movie Bagger Vance where he says the game of golf is a  game that can't be won;  only played, or something similar to that. Some folks just play better than others. 

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao View Post


To be fair, Tiger was a late bloomer. As a junior, he was smaller than his competition and lacked the power and distance they possessed. It was part of the reason why he developed such a powerful swing. Once he hit his growth spurt, it was lights out, but his "mediocrity" had more to do with physical limitations than skill.

I can attest to physical size being a huge contributor to performance. I skipped a grade, which meant that through high school I was constantly being outhit just because the older kids (who were still in my grade) were able to put it out past my shot without putting as much effort into the swing. This meant I'd try to swing harder to match them, which lead to inconsistency.

 

This year I gained 2" and 30 pounds over the fall and winter, which made a huge difference coming back in the spring. What used to be a great drive for me is now an average one, and that's without trying to swing out of my shoes.

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post

No. Nobody EVER "figures out" this game. z7_no.gif

And to be clear, just as soon as you think, or worse, say that you have, the golf gods will hand you a beat-down of epic proportions!
This is correct! In fact, this is the only thing there is to figure out, and once you figure this out, you accept it, and begin to enjoy it for the frustration and constant striving to be as good as you possibly can!
Which for the majority... Isn't very good!😉
post #12 of 30

You also have to remember that we all have different standards.  Dave2512 is a 9 index, something that most players would kill for, yet every time it comes up he says what a crappy player he is.  I was happy for many years as a 10 and never cared if I got any better.  I have a good friend and avid golfer who is lucky if he's an 18, yet he enjoys the game more than many of the single digit handicappers I know.  I've never, ever seen him get down on himself.

 

Some players never seem to be satisfied, and those players will have a different definition for "figuring it out" than I do.

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post

No. Nobody EVER "figures out" this game. z7_no.gif

And to be clear, just as soon as you think, or worse, say that you have, the golf gods will hand you a beat-down of epic proportions!

 

Truer words have never been spoken.No one will ever figure game out to play good all the time because its just not possible because every strokes counts unlike baseball where your foul balls give you another swing or in football where a quarterback misses 30% of his passes and is still considered great.This game isn't for everybody.Some love it and others just don't care for it.Its probably a good thing its not for everybody because the courses would be even more crowded and slow play would be even worse.

post #14 of 30

I'll take a shot at this.  First off, I think you have to distinguish between different skill levels and the transitions between those skill levels.  From newbie (can't break 100) to bogey golfer is one such transition, and can be managed by anyone with lessons, some practice time, etc.

 

But I think the OP is focused on going from playing to a single digit handicap to becoming a competitor  in the game at a national or at least regional level.  That's a much different proposition.  And rather than time, lessons, a modicum of athleticism, etc. (the ingredients that will eventually get you to single digits, if not scratch), that transition requires, I believe (not being anywhere close to it myself as a golfer), a competitive temperament and some athletic talent.  A guy has those all along, or doesn't.  They don't suddenly come into existence as he becomes a better golfer.

 

Many years ago, as a junior I played tennis at a regional level and had cousins who played on a national level.  Simply put, they were so much better than me that it was stunning.  At a very early age, I learned not to kid myself.  We could play on the same court, but we were playing different games.  In golf, the same goes for the guys booming drives from the tips--unless you're playing tournament pin placements against serious people, don't kid yourself about the game you're playing.

 

BTW, the only situation I can recall in golf where unknown middle age guys came out of the woodwork happened when the Senior Tour started.  There were some club/teaching pros who did very well in the early days, although they'd never been on tour (or been on tour for just a couple of years).  I can't remember names, but I think David Duval's father may have been one of them.

post #15 of 30

It took me about 6 years of intense work to go from a ~27 to a 4.2.  I think that transition is possible, but it took me a long time and a lot of work.

 

I don't know of anyone who has gone from 100+ to a professional career.  Seems impossible.

post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MS256 View Post
 

Most good players started very early so when they were "normal crappy" they were young enough that nobody noticed or cared.

 

Good players that did start later usually had a knack for it (athletic ability or whatever) and they didn't stay in the "normal crappy" group very long.

 

The guy that's been a high handicap player for many years either doesn't have a knack for it, is perfectly happy to play like they do, or simply don't have either the time or the money to really do the things they would need to do to get better.

 

I have a feeling most people fall into the underlined group. It really does take a lot of time if you really want to be good at golf.

 

One day my boss showed me a list he had of the golf handicaps of the CEOs of the top 100 companies in the country and the company profits. The thing that jumped right off of the page was the that the better the profits the worse the golfer and the worse the profits the better the golfer (almost without exception).

 

Someone once said that a business man golfer should shoot around 90.  Lower than that, he's neglecting his business.  Higher than that, he's neglecting his golf.

post #17 of 30

To me, I think there are so many different components to the game (sand play, greenside feel shots out of the rough, fairway bunkers, tee shots on intimidating tight fairways, moving the ball one way or the other, chipping it nice and tight from all kinds of lies, lag putting, etc) ... that it isn't possible to just get it - one may "get" certain components of the game, but not all of them.     Lastly, I think it is possible to eventually "get" the full swing shots ... putting - you can improve on it, but to be an exceptionally good putter & be able to read greens well, I think it's an inherent skill - either have it or you don't (after playing for nearly 4 years, I'm convinced there's black magic and mojo required to be a really good putter).


Edited by inthehole - 7/14/14 at 10:54am
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post
 

You also have to remember that we all have different standards.  Dave2512 is a 9 index, something that most players would kill for, yet every time it comes up he says what a crappy player he is.  I was happy for many years as a 10 and never cared if I got any better.  I have a good friend and avid golfer who is lucky if he's an 18, yet he enjoys the game more than many of the single digit handicappers I know.  I've never, ever seen him get down on himself.

 

Some players never seem to be satisfied, and those players will have a different definition for "figuring it out" than I do.

This is how I feel. I go out and shoot 76-79-76-75 this week in tournament play against professionals and it is NOTHING. I feel as if I am a crappy golfer even though I can shoot those rounds in tournament golf. No one is good at this game until 50 percent of their rounds are under par is the way I look at it. Even par through 3 rounds in any tournament with a solid field will get you a top 10 and that is about it. The only thing that could satisfy me in golf is winning an individual stroke play tournament. Scratch golf isn't anything once you get to tournament level play. They are dime-a-dozen players. Figuring out golf requires consistently having under 30 putts, consistently hitting 10-12 GIR, Consistently staying away from trouble, consistently hitting wedge shots tight, and consistently getting up and down 90 percent of the time. So "figuring it out" requires a ton of practice and learning to be consistent on every level. That is why you don't see a 5 go to a +3 overnight. There is no room for error when you play to a +3 or 4. Yeah you might make a penalty but you have the ability to ring off 4 birdies in a row at any time. 

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