Tom Jackson is director of instruction at the Core Golf Junior Academy and general manager of OslerBrook Golf and Country Club in Collingwood, Ont. He says stressing the “10,000 Hour Rule,” as described by Malcolm Gladwell can be a foundation for students if they have aspirations of playing elite level golf.
Having been a member of the Canadian PGA since 1977, I have worked in just about every facet of the golf business.
For 13 years, I tried life as a professional golfer and there is one thing that I tell every aspiring young person who wishes to play golf for a living.
For every Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els, there are a thousand players like I was – a grinder who barely eked out a living and who went to bed every night as countless other golfers, amateur or professional alike do, thinking that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be the day I figure it out and break through.
Could I retire and live off my career winnings when I was done playing? Hardly. As I said I was a grinder, so I made enough (or didn’t lose enough) to keep coming back every January. I was living on hope for 13 years.
So why are some people more successful at golf than others?
Why are some successful for a period of time and why do some plateau, as I did, and never get to the top?
There are many reasons and I will explore some of them in the future, but for my first posting, I will simply talk about time.
In golf today, you are seeing players getting better at a much younger age than when I started out.
During my era, you got on tour in your early 20s, cut your teeth losing a few tournaments to the veterans, paying your dues and if you were lucky by your late 20s or early 30s, you started winning.
Now, players in their teens like Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa are winning on tours all over the globe.
One of the big differences today compared to 20 years ago is time spent practicing.
If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he discusses the “10,000 Hour Rule,” in which he explores some of the world’s most successful people from Microsoft’s Bill Gates to Mozart to the Beatles and how they were provided opportunities to practice their skills for many hours and the impact that practice had on their successes.
As Malcolm says in his book, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Instruction/ lessons; fitness / nutrition and mental performance are components that help players reach “world class,” but the foundation of all great players is time spent practicing their skills.
There is no better example of that than the late Moe Norman, who spent hours and hours hitting thousands of golf balls perfecting his unorthodox swing to a point that Moe was recognized as a world-class shotmaker.
While we may be at a disadvantage with our Canadian winters, the southern, warm weather destinations are not far away and if you want to become a great player, you need to find the opportunity to get your 10,000 hours of practice in.
It pays off.