Can a complete novice become a golf pro with 10,000 hours of practice?
By Michael Kruse, Times Staff Writer
On his 30th birthday, June 27, 2009, Dan [McLaughlin] had decided to quit his job to become a professional golfer.
He had almost no experience and even less interest in the sport.
What he really wanted to do was test the 10,000-hour theory he read about in the Malcolm Gladwell bestseller Outliers. That, Gladwell wrote, is the amount of time it takes to get really good at anything — "the magic number of greatness."
The idea appealed to Dan. His 9-to-5 job as a commercial photographer had become unfulfilling. He didn't want just to pay his bills. He wanted to make a change.
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. ...
Here's how they have Dan trying to learn golf: He couldn't putt from 3 feet until he was good enough at putting from 1 foot. He couldn't putt from 5 feet until he was good enough putting from 3 feet. He's working away from the hole. He didn't get off the green for five months. A putter was the only club in his bag.
Everybody asks him what he shoots for a round. He has no idea. His next drive will be his first.
In his month in Florida, he worked as far as 50 yards away from the hole. He might — might — have a full set of clubs a year from now.