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Big Lex


I took up golf when I was 23. I had played some rounds at a pitch and putt as a kid, but I didn't really get hooked on the game until I was already finished with college and engaged in post-graduate studies. It seemed I was always scrounging for time to play. Like most of us, I was hooked quickly and wanted to be a good golfer - a scratch. That made it seem like I needed even MORE time. 

In his autobiography, Jack Nicklaus describes his early to mid-teen years as a virtual gluttony of golf: entire summer days, dawn to dusk, spent at the course....hours hitting practice balls...anywhere from 36 to 63 (yup, he once played sixty-three in one day!) holes, late day short game and putting practice, etc. He says his family never took vacations, and that in those early years, he doubts if he missed more than a day or two per summer of this routine, apart from weather related interruptions. And he did it all on a top-ranked golf course (Scioto CC in Columbus), under the tutelage of an accomplished PGA pro (Jack Grout).

Did he become great because he spent all that time learning the game - simple repetition-based learning - or was it something else? Malcolm Gladwell would place Nicklaus firmly in his category of people who achieve greatness because of special opportunity: How many people have the opportunity to practice golf so much, at so young an age, on such a great golf course, with the financial resources to supplement it with teaching? Not many.

Yet how many people, given those opportunities, would have done as Jack did? For a teenager to pursue ONE activity, to the exclusion of all else, for ONE day? Sure...just about any kid can do that. For a week? A few would drop out. A month, or an entire summer? I'm sure we would be in single-digit percentages at this point, if not lower. 

Golf is a great game, maybe the greatest of all, because it challenges us in so many ways. What is the greatest challenge? Is it to have enough time? Or is it how to use the time we have?

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This ones about as deep as my avatar!

The question seems to be (1) Quantity vs Quality and maybe there's even a little (2) how good do you want to get to be? question in there too.

Let me address the latter first. These people like you see on TV, no matter what sport, are super human. For the rest of us normal people, who today can't throw a ball 95mph, can't run a sub 4 minute mile, and can't drive a golf ball 325 yards.......it's likely we never will no matter how technically perfect we become. When you first crack the book to learn how to become a PGA teaching professional one of the first things that it says is that "people have physical limitations". It's those with all the right combinations of skills, opportunity, and desire that actually get to reach the levels of professional and even then it's not easy for most of them. Some people have the skills but they lack the desire, some have the desire but they lack the opportunity. Some even have all three but can't seem to get them in the right combination. So how does one get to become one of the lucky less than 1% of the people that become professionals in their sport? Well, I'm not saying don't try, but make sure you have a backup plan. And me? I want to get to be as good at golf as I can be, as good as I can afford to be, but without shirking my other responsibilities to family and friends. How good my game is is personal between me and myself and if along the way it allows me to get some minor recognition for my accomplishments at it, that's even better...... but I ain't quitting my day job if ya know what I mean. 

As far as Quality versus Quantity, that is a really good question. Balance I think is my answer but I think everyone's balance is what they deem right for them. I try to play good golf as much as I can, but I realize that just doesn't mean going out and playing golf. Practice and Training have a lot to do with good golf and I agree  it's hard to find the time.

I think the key is being happy with what you are able to invest in trying. 

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Simple answer: it's not just quantity, but the quality of that quantity, plus a dash of "natural talent level" thrown in to boot.

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"Golf is a great game, maybe the greatest of all, because it challenges us in so many ways." It also is a passion, one which affects everyone in different manners but similar to most.

What is the greatest challenge? There are many, the expense, the travel, the schedule, family, friends, health, etc.

Is it to have enough time? Generally, most will make time for any desire in life, or make plans.

Or is it how to use the time we have? I think most enjoy the opportunity when they can.

Yet how many people, given those opportunities, would have done as Jack did? Many may have the same dream, but everyone has their own journey.

I agree with iacas  "it's not just quantity, but the quality of that quantity"

Club Rat

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I think if it were about having the time we would see far more people with III IV and such after their names dominating the game with family money spent at the country club golf courses.  How many of these rich kids that have every resource available and grow up on a golf course are out there doing what Jack and Tiger did (and yes I know there are a few but even they are the exception)?  As iacas has said it also has to do with the quality of the quantity and also just athletic ability in my opinion.  I had a friend who practically picked up a pool cue and just knew how to play, he was truly a natural.  Not everyone is like that and not everyone is as good no matter how much time they put in or if they have the same instructor(s).

Edited by Gator Hazard

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