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The Dan Plan - 10,000 Hours to Become a Pro Golfer (Dan McLaughlin)


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Originally Posted by nevets88

This has been making the rounds. I read the original article in a Tampa Bay paper and was in Hacker News and other golf blogs. Seems to have hit a nerve.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2438300



This response is typical of anyone trying somethign like this. Irishman John Richardson wrote "Dream On", a book about his quest to go from 100+ to shooting a par round in 1 year. He was bagged with similar responses. He also accomplished his goal. But once he had, he went back to being the family man he was before his experiment. I wouldn't be surprised if this Dan guy was very succesful with his 10K hour challenge, but then was so sick of golf that he barely played afterwards!

I just hope he has a REALLY good chiropractor/physio.

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There once was a man named Dan He thought that he had a grand plan He drummed up some money Though most thought it funny That he spoke like a confidence man   Dan thought

Dan's a ****ing moron. And there is no clearer evidence in regards to how stupid Dan is than in his concluding statements. "I just don't know what to write." Really? You're THAT obtuse, dude? You

Ah, the Dan Plan. I wouldn't change anything I said in my article roughly a year ago. I feel that was the best post mortem we were going to get. I mentioned in that article that we were not going to h

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Originally Posted by turtleback

In his book The Complete Golfer, Harry Vardon recommends the exact opposite.  He says to start with the driver and work your way in.



While I'm not going to disagree with the great. I do tend to find it to be the opposite of what he's saying. IE when you warm up you don't start out smacking a driver, you hit chips, wedges, irons, woods, driver (usually)

But when trying to learn a new swing or concept, they start with 1/2 shots or smaller clubs and groove the swing, then work your way up.

So I think his method of starting on the green and working back is actually a good idea. However.... It's 5.34 years of practicing.. if you dont practice short game for 3 years, you're gonna lose it by the time you come back to it?

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While I'm not going to disagree with the great. I do tend to find it to be the opposite of what he's saying. IE when you warm up you don't start out smacking a driver, you hit chips, wedges, irons, woods, driver (usually)

Tom Watson on the Golf Channel said he always starts his practice with a 3 Iron.

On another note, I expect that the real goal of this guy is to write a book about his experience.  It seems everyone wants to write a "Paper Lion"-type book these days.

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Originally Posted by plugged

Tom Watson on the Golf Channel said he always starts his practice with a 3 Iron.

On another note, I expect that the real goal of this guy is to write a book about his experience.  It seems everyone wants to write a "Paper Lion"-type book these days.



I doubt the book would sell very well unless he actually became a pro golfer.

I think this is a pretty cool idea, I wish I could afford to do something like this.

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I'll go out on a limb and say the guy has zero chance.  If he proves me wrong good on him but golf is much more than working on thing for a year another thing for a year and another thing for a year.  Learning to play is just as important has learning to hit the shots.  It's a nice novelty and he'll get plenty of press for it but i would guess a guy that hasn't worked on his short game or putting in 5 years will not be a good enough putter or have the short game necessary to even compete at a high amateur level.  If you can't make it to match play in the US am you're not ready for a career on tour.  Any dolt with a decent game could make a cut now then  but making a living out there would be tough.  He won't make it.

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  • 10 months later...

Just checked up on this guy the other day, he's doing pretty well.  He's 2,600 hours in, or just over 1/4 of the way.  I haven't really kept track of him recently, but he started in April 2010, now it's almost 2 years later and he's shooting in the 80's (HCP of 8.6 as of 2/12) on what seems like a somewhat consistent basis.  I honestly thought he would have given up or toned back on it all by now, but from some random samplings of his blog it seems like he's kept up and is really improving.

For those that aren't familiar with it, he literally started from the hole and worked his way back.  The first (forget the exact amount of weeks/months) were spent just putting, first from 2 feet then once he achieved his success rate of shots made (based on I believe PGA averages) he moved to 5 feet, etc, then on to chipping, pitching, full iron shots, etc, etc until he got to the driver which I think took him more than a 18 months to reach.

It's a pretty interesting read even if you just sample one post every few months. http://thedanplan.com/blog.php . Like I said, I'm impressed that he made it 2 years doing essentially nothing but golfing, considering he wasn't a "golfer" before the project.  If someone asked me to do this with Tennis or some other sport that I trip over myself at, I'm not sure I could stick to it like he has.  I did see at one post where he mentions that if by 5,000 hours (so another 2 years roughly) if he isn't down to scratch he'd be somewhat upset with himself.

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2600 hours to get to 8.6 HCP seems fairly long based on what I've read.  Many of the threads here posted by scratch and + handicappers indicate that getting to scratch is a quicker process compared with getting to the level required to be a pro.

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

2600 hours to get to 8.6 HCP seems fairly long based on what I've read.  Many of the threads here posted by scratch and + handicappers indicate that getting to scratch is a quicker process compared with getting to the level required to be a pro.



I definitely think he originally under estimated the difference between scratch/+ and pro.  I would bet he understands it a lot better now after spending 2 straight years playing that starting at age 30 and thinking you can turn pro by 36 is quite the dream.  I was more impressed with the fact that he stuck with it so far (financially, mentally, physically) and got good results, so far.

It'd be interesting to see how his time compares to other golfers on here.  Personally I started playing when I was a kid, maybe 10 or 12, just during summers because of my location.  If I played one round per week during the summer, one range session, figure 5 hours per week?  In high school I played on the team for a year, but then in college I never played, so it's an average.  So over the last 20 years (I'm 30 now) 5 hours per week, May-Oct so 6 months max, that's 2400 hours.  He just condensed his time into 2 years, where it took me 20 haha.

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I know for a fact he will not succeed ...

"During this time, Dan plans to develop his skills through deliberate practice, eventually winning amateur events and obtaining his PGA Tour card through a successful appearance in the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School, or 'Q-School'."

Wink, wink.

Seriously though, I think it's a really cool experiment.  In "Outliers" Malcolm Gladwell discusses this at length.  I'm trying to scan through it (while I'm supposed to be working) and see where he might discuss what level of innate talent researchers think is required to start.  I can't find any specifics, but there certainly is some required.  Quick excerpt (Section 2, Ch. 2):

"The striking thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals," musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any "grinds," people who worked harder than everybody else, yet just didn't have what it takes to break the top ranks ."

I hope he pulls it off.  Of course, that won't mean that any of us could do it, just that he had some ability locked up inside him waiting to get out.

Back to work ... sort of

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Originally Posted by WUTiger

' Trappers were discussing "10,000 hours" back when I first joined this blog. 10K hours comes from some psychology studies which estimate it takes about 10,000 hours of focused activity to really become good at a complex activity. Becoming pro golfer, concert violinist, or heart surgeon all fall into this area.

But, "really good" has different criteria depending on the activity.

One drawback of 10K theory: We like to tell little kids that "you can be anything you want to be if you really try hard."  But, does the person have the minimum level of intelligence / athletic ability / neural predisposition to eventually do well in the chosen activity?



Good point (almost a year ago - thread revived today). I've seen at least a couple "My Swing" threads where the guy might be a high handicap now, but has talent and with proper guidance could reach scratch or beyond. .

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Seems interesting. I might start following him now that I've seen this.  But I doubt he will make it as a pro.  To be a pro athlete in any sport requires something else than just hard work and practice.  You have to be born with "it".  To be the Top 0.5% of all the golfers requires you to be born with the talent to be that good.  Some people are and some are not.  Now that doesn't mean he will be a bad golfer, he will probably make scratch or close to it, but I don't think he will ever be a pro.  You just can't decide to be a pro, you actually have to have skill to go along with it.  But best of luck to him.

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Hah!  8.6. Now if he can just get the tour to spot him two strokes per hole, he might be halfway there.  Is the guy getting intsruction before he builds some seriously unbreakable habits with all that practice?  I'd be more inclined to spend less time repping until I'm absolutely sure that I'm on the right track.  Then just rep the crap out of it.

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I've played for 2.5 years, started when I was 30. I had my own clubs for just over a year, and I am now at 12.3, hoping to get into single digits this summer. I am living in Czech Republic, so I am not golfing during winter (November through March) and I have a fulltime job.

I like the Dan Plan, but I would say that with that amount of hours, he should be much lower handicap by now to have any chance of getting trough Q School.

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Originally Posted by bunkerputt

Hah!  8.6. Now if he can just get the tour to spot him two strokes per hole, he might be halfway there.  Is the guy getting intsruction before he builds some seriously unbreakable habits with all that practice?  I'd be more inclined to spend less time repping until I'm absolutely sure that I'm on the right track.  Then just rep the crap out of it.


I imagine he'd be getting instruction, or that would be an awful waste of time learning how to do everything wrong.  Does anyone know if he's getting lessons or anything?

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Originally Posted by benredik

I've played for 2.5 years, started when I was 30. I had my own clubs for just over a year, and I am now at 12.3, hoping to get into single digits this summer. I am living in Czech Republic, so I am not golfing during winter (November through March) and I have a fulltime job.

I like the Dan Plan, but I would say that with that amount of hours, he should be much lower handicap by now to have any chance of getting trough Q School.



I agree with that. I didn't base my comment on his original goal of turning professional (didn't read the entire thread). I was just thinking about reaching 8.6 as a very respectable level for a guy 2 years into playing regularly. Didn't know he'd essentially dropped out and this was his life. He accepts donations at his website - like that's gonna happen

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He is getting lessons from a somewhat respected instructor (lets not argue that he should be using swing pattern xx). The reality is that he has no chance. Let say the theory is correct and say that the amount of practice is the biggest factor in having a pro level golf game. Guess what when he shows up at Q school most of those guys are going to have a lot more hours of practice than he does. How many hours of practice do you think a 27 year old minitour pro who picked the game up at 14 and played through HS and college before turning pro has?  Its a lot more than 10k for most of them.

It is easy to look at the 2500 hours and say he is only like a 8 but you have to remember he is not trying to optimize his handicap at 2500 hours. He spend a shit load of hours chipping and putting  (personally I think this was a big mistake) and I think he only started iron play like 1000 hours ago. Thats still a lot of hours. Playing with VR blades probably isn't helping his handicap much either. I will be a bit disappointed if he isn't a scratch golfer by the end. I would be a bit shocked if he is better than a +3 or so.

Originally Posted by RichWW2

I imagine he'd be getting instruction, or that would be an awful waste of time learning how to do everything wrong.  Does anyone know if he's getting lessons or anything?



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