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An Average Guy Who Spent 6,000 Hours Trying to Be a Professional Golfer (theatlantic.com)
182 points by tangue 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

Going pro shouldn't be the mark of success on this endeavor. There are a very limited number of seats and very likely pros have committed well more time.

The fact he got to a 2 handicap is evidence you can become a master. Especially since he suffered a physical limitation after about 6k hours.

Talent matters. Age matters. The ability to "get it" faster matters. Access makes you get it faster.

But to go from no game to a 2 handicap is proof extremely hard work pays off. To be in the top 5% of anything makes you elite even if it doesn't make you a pro in an extremely selective occupation. A top-5% engineer can work anywhere and make top money.

You know, a 2 handicap is far from being a master. The gap from 2 to +2 is bigger than that from 12 to 2. And a +2 is quite good. But if you're a +2, how do you get yourself to be a +3? Pray to the golf gods? The gulf there is vast. And even then, you're far, far from PGA Tour level. Those guys are good.

The way I'd put it is, this guy made himself be a competent golfer. He could average 2 over the course rating on the better half of his rounds. Not bad. Really, that's an achievement many golfers would dream of. He's broken 70, and what more is there to life?

I met a guy that started in his 60's after retiring. He hit scratch by the time he was 70.

Hearing that there's only 326,000 active golfers actually makes hitting the PGA Tour sound much more realistic than I would have thought. You only have to be one in two thousand. Edit: Thanks, no, it's 1 in 326,000, which makes way much more sense.

2 handicap felt like "expert" but nowhere near master.

As a junior golfer I peaked at 2.4 (probably put in around 10,000 hours, though I obviously didn't keep track), and I agree that being scratch felt much much harder than going from 12 to 2, and +2 seemed impossibly far away.

Not to mention tour conditions for green speed, rough thickness, and length are much tougher than your average very good golf course. My home course at the time was a PGA Tour venue but theyd always close the course for a week to toughen things for the tour event.

For what it's worth, at a 2 handicap I believe you pass the bar to become a PGA of America professional (teaching pros and club pros), pending qualification exams and iirc 2 rounds of play test.

I'm not a golfer, I played a bit as a youth so I'm familiar with the basics but that is all.

I'm curious how they'd toughen the course just for the tour event? Was it things like changing the size/position of hazards or were there more subtle differences?

I don't know specifics to a pro tour, but here are things I know a golf course can do (has done):

1. Move the holes on the green. It's pretty easy to do, you basically have a giant cookie cutter that cuts a hole out, you drop in a cup and then move the bit you cut out into the old hole. On a well maintained course the seam will be gone in a few days. Most courses have a map of where the possible hole positions and a difficulty measure for each configuration.

2. Watering/not watering greens. If you don't water for a few days, the greens get harder and the ball doesn't slow down very much. On a sloped green this can make a decent landing turn into a gigantic overshoot.

3. Mowing height. A tall rough can suck energy out of your swing. A low green makes the ball roll fast. I'm not sure if they change the height for all areas of the course (especially if you're happy with your greens), but it seems trivial to let the rough get a little higher.

In your comment you mention moving the size/position of hazards. Moving bunkers is a bit of an ordeal and I'm not sure if they would do that for a PGA tour (but I could be wrong). Making the water level higher so the ponds get bigger seems easy enough though.

They can narrow the fairways, and with bunkers they'll put extra maintenance effort to get the sand just right. With the majors they might go a lot further. Courses will also modernize on their own just to be more attractive, for example Royal St. George's made some big changes to get the Open back.

You misread that. It's 326,000 PER pga tour spot.

Folks who decide to do a 10,000-hour challenge are probably already in some kind of elite group, in terms of wealth and free time (nevermind patience and perseverance). The average person isn't able to spend ~7 hours a day, every day for 4 years, on a non-salaried activity.

>The average person isn't able to spend ~7 hours a day, every day for 4 years, on a non-salaried activity.

I basically did this over 6 years, 3-5 hours per day on a non-earning activity to eventually launch the business I now run. In the last 3 years I've averaged 60-70 hours per week at work, only recently earning close to my last salary (about 65% as of last check) as a Data Scientist.

It's doable enough. Just very hard. Can only really be done if it's your life's calling, which this was and I correctly identified it as such in year 2.

Also the "10,000" hour rule (which has obviously been debunked) isn't really about 10,000 hours of focused practice on the task alone. Focused work and previous experience in other domains transfers into the activity/goal you chase.

Being a Data Scientist gave me a huge leg up about understanding data structures and statistical analysis, huge in my field.

Formerly a software developer, I was able to install, configure, and hack together a workable WooCommerce/WordPress PHP/MySQL CMS that generated content and still is our main shop, selling millions of dollars of merchandise per year.

I used to work retail and retail management when I was young and putting myself through high school and college. Lessons about stocking, shipping, marketing, sales, logistics - all transferred into my online retail business.

None transfer perfectly, but all make an impact. True, I knew nothing about "sports science" at the outset. But I had a big leg up from my limited college education and my extensive work history. That cut the "10,000" hours down significantly.

Just wanted to offer some kind congratulations and best wishes on your endeavors.

Thank you. I really do accept it. :)

This is how I like to think about my journey, stolen directly from the link I posted in these comments from Lyle McDonald (perhaps without the DEGREE of acerbic attitude...):

"Quick note: I’m turning off comments for this series of posts. The first reason is so I don’t have to delete the invariable trolling. The second is that I’m also not interested in atta boys or whatever. I spent the last 5 years pursuing this goal for myself. Whether folks supported it or thought I was an idiot was never relevant to what I was going to do. So neither positive nor negative feedback is needed nor wanted."

I've had to pivot the company twice, both times destroying much of what I thought it was going to be, once breaking my heart. But I've reached a zen-like mode as I grow older with the ability to simply... well, work. As it gets tougher, I get better at churning and slogging and fighting. I think that is the true way to know if something is your life's work, whether it is "successful" by any measure other than your own.

I'm lucky in that it generates revenue and I employ a lot of people and provide for them, and my family. But I can say without a doubt I'd be doing it anyway even if it didn't, because I did do that for 6-7 years not only without pay, but at negative returns given that I self-funded the entire venture.

> As it gets tougher, I get better at churning and slogging and fighting.

Can you please elaborate on that point? How did you get better at that skill? Was it acceptance? Something else?

As far as I can tell, I got better at it due to growing up in adverse conditions. Nothing terrible, but my family never had it 100% easy, grew up in the inner-city, was working since 14 years of age, full-time at 17 while taking community college classes and opting out of SR year of HS.

I really don't mean to turn it into a classist meme or anything, but working is just in my blood and my family's blood. The more you do anything, the better you get at it. Work under adverse conditions defines my life from 17-25 years old, so I got good at it.

But 10000 hour rule isn't about being competent. It's about being an expert.

> Formerly a software developer, I was able to install, configure, and hack together a workable WooCommerce/WordPress PHP/MySQL CMS that generated content and still is our main shop, selling millions of dollars of merchandise per year.

But anyone could really do that just following simple online guides/examples. CMS is child's play especially when you didn't even build one from scratch but just pieced ready made software together.

> I used to work retail and retail management when I was young and putting myself through high school and college. Lessons about stocking, shipping, marketing, sales, logistics - all transferred into my online retail business.

Sure, but you aren't an expert in any of those.

Of course cross domain knowledge helps but I think you are missing the point of the 10000 hour rule. It was a rule to make you an expert, not a jack of all trades.

I think you are missing the point of the parent post.

He is not stating that the 10,000 rule will make you a jack of all trades. He is saying that he was able to cut down the "10,000" hours to less because of his transferable skills. S/he might not be an expert in these transferable skills, but s/he might be an expert in his business which is sports science.

> He is not stating that the 10,000 rule will make you a jack of all trades.

But that's not what he described.

> S/he might not be an expert in these transferable skills, but s/he might be an expert in his business which is sports science.

Sure. We all have transferable skills. I don't think the 10000 hour rule meant that you start off with a blank slate and went from the basics of learning language, mathematics, etc.

The 10000 rule is part learning and part practice/muscle memory/etc.

In other words, it "includes" transferable knowledge.

If you know latin, you'll have an easier time getting competent in italian. But to become an expert in italian, you still need to go through the 10000 hours. That's the idea of 10000 hours. I don't believe in the 10000 hours mantra, but that's my understanding of it.

I am an expert in my field now. It is indisputable. It took me less than 10,000 hours because of the other work I did.

You are indeed missing the point.

> But anyone could really do that just following simple online guides/examples

That's simply not true. There's a huge sea of bad (out of date or simple ignorance) and non-working examples for all sorts of technology, which is amplified by any tech stack. Being able to sift and qualify that you're doing the right thing, or even starting over after a lengthy failure is not a common trait.

Of course it's doable if your aim is to acquire skills and enter a high-paying profession that already employs millions of people. Your opportunity cost all along the the way is lower than if you were on some quixotic bid to join the PGA.

It is arguable that my job was about equal in viability to either becoming a PGA pro or a pro golf instructor along the way.

TV? The stats are that the average person watches 5 hours and 4 minutes of television per day, every day, for decades.


Does the average person, coming after work and taking care of family has the energy to do serious work ? TV time isn't a good measure for that.

Well, yes, IME the primary limiting factor on getting productive work done after work is energy, not time. But the article is about golf, which for many people is a relaxation pursuit akin to TV.

Holy shit. I hope a significant amount of that is background noise rather than an actual use of time.

Some of it undoubtedly is, but I suspect that there are a number of people who actually watch 7+ hours of TV per day. Remember that TV watching is concentrated among older people; the average for 18-24 year olds is 2 hours/day, for 65+ year olds, it's 7 hours/day, and even for just 50+ year olds it's > 6 hours/day. [1] "Media multitasking" is concentrated among the young, those < 35 years old, who watch the least TV anyway.

Just thinking back to my childhood in the 80s, I could totally believe this. I'd come home at 3:30, watch the entire Disney Afternoon until 5:00 when my mom would get home, pretend I hadn't been watching anything, then watch the news with her (6:00-6:30), have dinner, and then usually watch an hour or two more of primetime. That's about 4 hours a day, as a 9-year-old.

These were the habits of three whole generations (Silent, Boomers, and Gen-X) and half of another (Millenials). I don't watch any TV now, but that's because computer games and the Internet replaced it in my teenage years.

[1] http://www.marketingcharts.com/featured-24817

Maybe having one's future life at stake plays a role in one's effectiveness in practicing?

Too bad we don't have scorecards, though.

I remember when I found out that Gladwell was a journalist not a scientist. In science, cherry picking your data is malfeasance, and in journalism it is just good story telling. Which made me sad because I'd like to believe that you could 'practice your way' into some amazing profession.

I also followed Dan's progress for the first couple of years. Here was a guy who was putting things to the test in a way that had not been done before. I expect if he writes a book on the topic I would not be the only one who bought it.

So it is with some surprise that I read that Dan didn't know how to 'end it'. He did an amazing thing, and the results weren't what he expected or hoped but they were authentic and that is important. I don't think anyone who followed his story would say "oh he just slacked off for years" or any of that. I would hope he could sit back and evaluate it not as someone who 'failed to make the PGA' but rather as someone who tested this hypothesis of 10K hours and found it wanting. That is an excellent achievement and I hope he can see it that way.

I actually randomly looked this guy up months ago after thinking about him and wondering whatever became of his experiment. Sad to see how it ended.

Side note: the Atlantic's shit-tastic anti-ad blocker wouldn't let me in even though I'm a paying subscriber, AND I whitelisted them, so here's the AMP link: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article...

Funny, I did the same a few weeks ago. The idea is still fascinating.

Absolutely true story: A friend of mine could make a golf ball do just about anything and was a wonder to watch. He was a scratch player or better (I don't recall his exact handicap). On paper, he was professional standard. He could sink 10 foot putts all day long (my hyperbole), but what he could not do was sink a 10-foot putt, when it counted. By his own admission, he just did not have the match temperament to perform when the pressure was really on.

Golf at professional level is not just about skill, but also mental preparedness, fitness and probably a lot of other factors.

I've played my entire life, and run a handful of people with the exact same game.

Nick Faldo did an interview with Joe Buck where they touched on the subject, and he said without the complete conviction that you're going to sink the putt/make the birdie/win the tournament - you'll never accomplish any of it.

At the Pro level, the mental aspect of the game is more important than the physical.

While this is true, I think golf etiquette makes it easier to handle the mental side. No screaming fans and flashing lights to deal with during the game like in other sports.

That helps with the external distractions, but it doesn't help with the pressure you put on yourself - the internal mental pressure.

There's a reason everyone recommends "The Inner Game of Tennis" in this context.

Also, depending on how you handle pressure, a period of absolute silence when people concentrate on seeing whether you fail or not can be a lot more nerve-wracking than a colourful crowd of people relentlessly booing your team.

"The Sports Gene" [1] is an excellent book on this topic backed up by not only research but entertaining stories as well. It has a section about Dan but also has stories about a world champion high jumper who dedicated his life to high jumping only to be surpassed by someone who wasn't really interested in it and had been practicing for less than a year.

I think the lesson to take away from Dan's experience and what the author of this book argues as well is that yes, practice can make you a lot better. But to be among the best in the world, you'll need to have some sort of genetic advantage.

[1] https://www.amazon.ca/Sports-Gene-Extraordinary-Athletic-Per...

I highly recommend people reading a similar story by Lyle McDonald, called No Regrets [0]. He drops everything to become a world-champion short-track speed skater, which is miles and miles less competitive than professional golf.

[0]: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/training/no-regrets-part-1....

I sort of did a similar experiment from 15-35 with boxing. Trained a lot and became pretty competent. But to get to the top hard work is not enough. You also need talent. There are people in the gym that had speed and strength without any training that I couldn't reach with daily hard training.

But I think doing this was probably still the best thing I did in my life. Doing something that seems out of reach and then becoming competent is great. Even without having success in the sense of winning.

As a former boxer, I believe that there are a few body types that are well suited for boxing (and different types fit different styles) the same way in soccer you want different types/skills for a goalkeeper and a striker.

I started doing kickboxing but my leg speed/flexibility was a very limiting factor and I sucked at it. I would be floored by people that were training for half the time I was, but my hand and upper body agility was suited very well for a 'in-fighter' kind of style in boxing. I changed and was able to very quickly start having boxing matches and winning them.

I truly believe different sports require different body types (fast/slow, tall/short, etc etc) and sometimes is just the problem of finding the right sport for you to be proficient in. (I was a very good goal keeper when I was a teenager, top in the region, but when the other kids started to have their growth spurts and I didn't, my 'skill' compared with the other kids started to decline.)

There are people in the gym that had speed and strength without any training that I couldn't reach with daily hard training.

I'm inclined to wonder if they were lucky & came with it, for whatever reason. Like, they happened to grow up playing basketball and shoveling dirt, so they have years of formative training already.

I heard an interesting hypothesis once about ski stars- basically, that many pro skiers today had just the right foot & shin geometry as kids such that ski boots fit really well. A kid whose foot is NOT a great fit for the boots, might have plenty of latent skill & ability, but nobody custom-fits boots for kids. That's not to denigrate the pro skiers today, just to say, everyone comes to a sport with a different background, and having certain lucky prerequisites help you stand out right from the beginning.

I'm on the verge of attempting something like this in Tai Chi. I'm pretty sure I have only moderate (if any) talent, and age is against me as well, but I plan to give this an all out try.

Great comment. Directly spoke to me. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

I hope you do :) I hope you also get to practice the real deal, with the real Chi (and the Chuan) ;)

ha! I know exactly what you speak of (chi/chuan)

I practice a 'non fluff' variant, emphasizing lots of 'real world testing' against uncooperative opponents ;-)

"I sort of did a similar experiment from 15-35 with boxing."

Did you stop ? If so, why ?

Would have been a different story and probably had a better chance if would have started at 20. You'll find kids in high school and younger that have 2 handicaps, alot of physical abilities but less mental aspects for the game.

Steph Curry (basketball star) carries a 2 handicap so just having athletic talent can really make a difference, give him <2000 hours of practice and I'd bet he could play on the web.com tour.

I wonder how much the back problem mattered here. Because you see the same, in fighting sports. Every 3 years or so someone comes and starts intense practice, thinking they can just do this. And you can ...

But not if you practice hard enough to dislocate your knee in (the current record is) 2 months. Unless you're a kid, you need regular, long (as in a week minimum) breaks in practice. Every few months.

> Unless you're a kid, you need regular, long (as in a week minimum) breaks in practice. Every few months.

Moreover, I wonder if he'd become "automatically" better after a downtime of say 2 months. I could imagine his brain still has a lot of processing to do from this extreme time.

After spending some time machine learning golf for daily fantasy wagering, I came to the conclusion that I will never take up the sport. As a social activity it has its positives, but on the sporting side consistency and improvement are hard to come by.

* Professionals miss the cut n times in a row, then win next tournament.

* The ridiculous "tips" videos with all the machinations and methods they put forth to help you with your game - I'd rather play Twister.

* Equipment - costs and technology changes. Drivers are getting closer to looking like a sawed-off bowling ball attached to a shaft.

However, I do enjoy watching the pros play and Spieth's 13th hole in the British Open and follow up was a memorable event.

The PGA has to be commended for making public a great amount of super-detailed data for use in analysis. I wish the bigger sports did this.

The book "Every Shot Counts" by Mark Broadie may help guide you to improve your game, if you are interested in a data analysis approach.


How did you get on with the machine learning part of it?

"There is golf, and then there is tournament golf." - Bobby Jones. Dan picked one of the most ridiculously hard endeavors to 'master' and never even had a cup of coffee at a mini-tour event, let alone advancing in any of his state qualifiers or local invitationals. Even the pros who have their tour card but are not in the field for the next tournament sometimes play in a 1-round Monday qualifier, and they have to shoot in the mid to low 60s to top a field of 125-185 players to grab an open slot. Even then they likely will miss the cut at the event, as most tour players do week in week out - except the true superstars. A 2-handicap shows you can manage your way around a course, but it's miles away from tour-level. Tour players are in the +5 to +8 range at their home clubs, and those are all championship tracks they play from the tips - just for practice.

I haven't read Gladwell's book, but I would imagine that time spent practicing is only one of several multipliers. Natural talent and the right coaching at the right time would be too others.

Outliers is a fun read, and short. Just as with all Gladwell it's long on idea consistency and short on numerical rigor.

But this is sort of a misinterpretation anyway. The point isn't that 10k hours is enough to make you a master in isolation, it's that masters don't get to be masters before 10k. At the top end of elite practitioners of any art, talent still matters.

And the studies he (Glad we'll) references are an average of 10000. Average. Sucks to be you if you are the 20k hours person.


I read this book. It is well written and better researched than outliers by far.

I think it's the worst multiplier.

Deliberate practice and perceptual exposure can cut this down rather much.

Since Malcolm Gladwell's book about 10,000 hours of practice, there must be dozens of stories that of people trying to reach that milestone in various pursuits (music, programming, arts). Would love to read a series of those (or maybe that's Gladwell's next book deal).

I started learning golf a few years ago and to me it definitely seems like something most people can master with practice. Especially if you are good at putting your mind in the right place. It's really easy to become too stressed in golf or too careless or get too focused and overthink the shot. It is most mindful than any sport I've played. [1]

With that said, I think there are two hard requirements for golf:

- Time

- Money

The first one comes with the second as someone who has f* you money can make a lot of time. I know someone who "retired" at 40 for two years to exclusively practice golf. He eventually went back to work, not because he had to but because he was bored (serial entrepreneurs have to start companies... it's an addiction)

I unfortunately am in the middle. I have been able to spend hundreds of dollars on the sport not thousands like some people I know. I have a hitting net at home I can go in my yard so I don't need to go to the driving range and that helps (a few hundred dollars well spent) but if I went to the course every weekend I'd be broke in no time. And I most certainly can't go on "Golf Vacations" half way around the country (though if I happen to be on vacation near a course I will go).

[1] I found my shot improves ridiculously if I step back, breath, and stop thinking so hard about it. I've spent a long time thinking about shots only to slice it then gone up to the tee and swung without giving it a second thought and hit a perfect shot... repeatedly.

It's the "Talent bound" vs "Effort bound" mindset.

I side with "Effort bound" as a life motto. To challenge myself, if not for correctness relatively to the reality.

Effort in any field has the property that if you are bloody-minded enough it can bring you up to the wall beyond which talent lies. I hit this wall as a result of over-practicing piano aged 28 which I had to give up due to repetitive strain injury. The good news is that a few years later, in a separate development, the wall suddenly and completely dissolved. I can't describe the experience without sounding mystical. Still less can I explain it. The closest psychological concept I've found is Low Latent Inhibition and my guess is that this phenomenon lies behind all talent.

We should be careful drwaing conclusions about the value of practice here.

The main problem with this endeavor is the definition of success. The outcome is strictly binary. That is either he makes a pro tour or not. Apart from publicity, there is not a whole lot that can be redeemed if Dan gets, say, only 90% there.

There are numerous ways one can challenge himself or herself and benefit enormously along the way to the top 6% in the respective field. For example, if it were finance, then he would have been very wealthy. If it were triathlon, then he'd be in great physical health. Etc.

In real life going for it is not the only thing that leads to success. It's also choosing wisely what you do.

>“We [talked] about the idea of quitting everything to pursue something single-mindedly and whole-heartedly,” McLaughlin recounts. “Did you need talent or was it all about hard work?”

Why not apply that mindset to commercial photography, the field he was already in?

The article said he felt indifferent about his previous and current careers.

If you like this story you may also be interested in the book "Paper Tiger" by Tom Coyne. Same idea of total dedication to making the PGA, but starting as a guy who played competitively in his youth, but had gotten rusty. He was shooting in the 80s, and decided to dedicate a year to it. Entertaining read I thought.

10,000 hours is taken from the book Outliers, but it's not even true mastery. It's said to be the level where Bill Gates entered Harvard. 10,000 hours is more journeyman level than mastery.

The book Mastery goes into much more detail, where it repeats that 10,000 hours is necessary, but there are other components to mastery. Among them is mentorship and creating some form of masterwork.

The pro athletes have gone far past the 10,000 hours mark, but chances are they also had mentors and they've also taken some risks and invented their own styles. Keep practicing.

I think there is a misconception with that number. It originally comes from a paper on deliberate practice from Anders Ericsson.

You could spend 10,000 hours playing golf but it's highly unlikely you have spent 10,000 hours in deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is the relentless drill on areas you need to improve that sit outside your comfort zone. A game of golf, like anything, will include a variety of skills, some comfortable, some not so.

I can't speak for the validity of the research but it's not as simple as doing something for 10,000 hours. The idea is to breakdown everything that you need to do in a golf game, analyse objectively where you stand on each and relentlessly nail the weakest areas.

It's not fun, it's hard and I guess the key thing with talent is that it makes all of that a little bit easier plus a burning passion for the bigger picture (I wonder if that's the source of talent - a burning passion and some other innate advantages)?

He is not an average guy if he decides to do such a thing.

Pure marketing and zero professionalism it seems. A real person attempting pro will have real trainers. They will help him make plans that don't overstress his body in a way that kills his back in 5 years. Then you set goals that are hard but reachable, not outright impossible. Of course some "impossible" goals can be reached, but not without first achieving some goals from the "possible" category.

What it seems is that you have read neither Dan's blog nor the article you're commenting on. He did hire real trainers.

Correction: He did pay people to train him. That's different from hiring real trainers. See the word "real" in "real trainers"? It's part of their job to protect your key body parts during training.

"real trainers" is a marketing concept, and their knowledge is far from scientifically valid.

Yeah there are like 100 who will claim that title and 2 who really earn it. You need to be a fanatic yourself (about anything, not necessarily the same topic) to understand who is a fanatic in his claimed area as well.

I feel like there is some confusion between being successful and being professional. You could deliberately practice a sport or music for ~10,000 and be really damn good, but that doesn't mean you will go pro. That part is about luck and connections. Just because you are very skilled doesn't necessarily mean you will be "spotted" or "discovered" for example.

golf has open tournaments. no need to be spotted

it's literally just up to your ability and nothing else

You need access to expertise, equipment, grounds, peer competition. These all require money and/or connections.

Golf is cheap. You could spend $1000 on equipment, get a yearly pass for $2300 right outside Google HQ. Spend $50 or is it $100 to join the men's club -- they'd love for you to join -- and get your NCGA handicap. Done.

Read the greatest kung fu manual ever written, "Five Lessons" by Ben Hogan, or use some other book. I met one kid that modeled his swing off of YouTube videos and with that got himself to a scratch handicap.

The real cost is time.

> Golf is cheap. You could spend $1000 on equipment, get a yearly pass for $2300 right outside Google HQ.

$3300 is not in any way "cheap" for the majority of Americans.

I like HN, but it's disheartening how many of my peers in tech seem to think that a West Coast programmer's salary is normal.

It's cheaper than smoking. Edit: Well, depends on the accounting. The median U.S. income is $51K so by all means it's affordable. The main cost is time.

Median household income is $50k. Median individual income is $30k, leaving the aforementioned year of golf taking about 10% of ones (median) income. That is a fairly large expense.

If you're trying to go pro, 10% of income is nothing compared to the time investment. Like, it's an amount. But plenty of people get by on $27K.

That's pre-tax income though. There will be some variation by location and situation, but if we say post-tax is $24k that does not even leave $21k.

That is not a lot to live on. And, since we're talking about the median, 50% of the earning population are going to be left with even less than that.

Even then you're talking a cost for something you'd be devoting most of your free time to doing. You don't have to do it in California.

It's cheap compared to 6000 hours, unless you make under 10 dollars per day.

West Coast programmer who feels adequately compensated here and $3300 ain't cheap for me, either. At $275/month, that's more than my current grocery budget for a single person.

Golf is cheap.

Hmm. You could say much the same about tennis, surely?

I suspect the biggest cost at the top level is coaching time: Is it possible to get good enough to match the elite players without access to a coach who is good enough to train players at that level?

It's possible. Bubba Watson did it.

Going pro depends significantly on the economics of supply and demand, if it's defined as 'finding enough people to pay you to do this for a living'. It's easy to go pro as a plumber. Not so easy when you have to compete vs 300000 people for a PGA slot.

There's an episode of My Name is Earl based on this premise.

Should've gotten a Meeseeks

People seem to have a maximum skill level that they can attain, and hard training keeps them at that level, but can't get them any higher. If they quit hard training their skills drop quickly.

Children's sports is a process where you have a bunch of kids play and the coach looks to see which kids have an affinity for the sport. It is essentially a weed-out process that eliminates most kids.

Natural Talent + Dedication = a chance to be great at something.

I was an over achieving 6'2" power forward in junior college. Led the team in rebounding and blocked shots, but was always matched against guys 6'5" and taller, and 20 or more pounds of muscle heavier.

So I don't care how much practice I did under what regime, I had already found my limits. 6'-2".

Neat article, I wonder how much of that concept really belonging in the athletic arena, however. Also, Gretzky is spelled with a Z

Kudos to him throwing caution to the wind and trying it. That took guts

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