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Can One Become a Pro Golfer by Practicing for 10,000 Hours?

In his bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell posited a theory that anyone can become great at anything as long as they put 10,000 hours honing the skill.

Well, Dan McLaughlin decided to put the 10,000 Hours Rule to the test by becoming a pro golfer:

Could he stop being one thing and start being another? Could he, an average man, 5 feet 9 and 155 pounds, become a pro golfer, just by trying? Dan's not doing an experiment. He is the experiment.

The Dan Plan will take six hours a day, six days a week, for six years. He is keeping diligent records of his practice and progress. People who study expertise say no one has done quite what Dan is doing right now.

Dan spent last month in St. Petersburg because winters are winters in the Pacific Northwest. "If I could become a professional golfer," he said one afternoon, "the world is literally open to any options for anybody."

Link - via Kottke


I've heard the 10000 hours theory in Daniel Levitin's book "This Is Your Brain On Music", in regards to learning to play a musical instrument.

Though I've heard that it takes twice as long to learn the harp as it does any other instrument.
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it helps to have the luxury or spending six hours a day six days a week on something else besides working. he's also neglecting the fact that all the people mentioned in Gladwell's book had an aptitude for and interest in the fields that they mastered. the Beatles and Bill Gates didn't just randomly decide to do what they did. they each had a consuming desire to pursue their interest and enjoyment. for me that book just underlined the fact that a person could have all the talent in the world but without constant effort, without constant exercise of and thought about the particular field they might naturally excel at, their talent is wasted, pointless. so someone without an aptitude or interest in golf is playing against a stacked deck.

doesn't this book also talk about the time of year you're born and how old you are when you start kindergarten having an effect. i.e. a November baby will be farther behind developmentally and thus a little slower on the uptake than hir peers who are just a few crucial months older.and how that affect is cumulative. or is that from his other book which i read beck to back with this one?
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@dark victorius

Yes, in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell he describes how Canadian Little League hockey is selected for on a grade-level which puts children born at a certain time at an advantage over their peers.

As to your earlier hypothesis I can offer that scientists working in computational neuroscience have identified that a certain amount of emotional involvement in learning accelerates the process.

University of Illinois WikiEd lists the following emotions as negatively impacting learning:
Anxiety, Ennui, Frustration, Dispirited, Terror, and Humiliation.

WikiEd lists the following emotions as positively impacting learning: Confidance, Fascination, Euphoria, Enthusiasm, Excitement and Pride.

These are the extremes ends of a continuum listed at http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Learning_and_Emotion

I wonder if this is a big contributor to the Pygmalion effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_effect
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Ok, you start an idea like this by noticing that there's hardly anyone out there you'd call a genius who hasn't spent a seriously huge amount of time practicing that thing that they love to do. Mozart: precocious child but didn't get really, genuinely GOOD until he'd been working on it for years. So you come up with a figure and say that it takes 10000 hours to master a genuinely deep cognitive activity.

But can anybody say correlation not causation? That, I dunno, maybe 10,000 hours is a necessary not a sufficient condition?
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My experience is that 10,000 hours is both too much and too little. Most skills do not requite that much work. Most Olympic athletes practice only four hours per day. On the other hand, without expert tutelage, it does not matter how much time one spends on a skill.
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Fixed:

"If I could become a professional golfer," he said one afternoon, "the world is literally open to any options for anybody [who doesn't have to otherwise work to feed himself]."
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