Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Man Quits Job, Attempts to 'Malcolm Gladwell' the Game of Golf


There are rare people in this world that can just live. They don't care about tonight, or tomorrow, or retirement or even what is going on in the next presidential race, they just spend each day trying to get the most of out, and when it is time to go to sleep, they will enjoy that as well, expecting to wake up in the morning but not hoping to. It's a ability that is both incredible and sometimes scary. I have a friend like this that I envy most of the time. He never stops living, no matter how many times life kicks him in the teeth. He isn't scared of the kick.

It appears I'm going to add a man by the name of Dan McLaughlin to this list. A fellow southpaw, McLaughlin decided a year ago to quit his job as a photojournalist and try to actually live out a theory from a book by Malcolm Gladwell. Dan was going to become a professional golfer in 10,000 hours.

Now, like many people, I read "Outliers" and thought it was really interesting the amount of research that went into that perfect number of 10,000. Never in my right mind did I think to experiment with it.

But that is what the 31-year-old McLaughlin is doing, and you might hate him for it right now, but after you get through the lengthy profile of him that Michael Kruse did for St. Peterburg Times, you'll probably love the guy (seriously, stop what you're doing right now at work and just read it).

This isn't a "Paper Tiger" like experiment - Dan had never played golf before in his life. He's been on this six year experiment for a year, and still hasn't hit a driver. His coach told him that he couldn't start putting 3-footers until he was good from 1-foot away. The amount of commitment by this guy is astounding. He is trying to become a professional in one of the toughest things in the world, and by the end of the story, you actually feel like he could pull it off.

Here's the really interesting thing, and this is coming from someone that has played professional golf and still tries occasionally to catch lightening in a bottle - the older you get in the game of golf, the more the negative thoughts creep in your head. Look at Tiger Woods, for instance. He never thought about missing putts before, but it seems now those thoughts have found time in between his ears and he seems to be missing more and more of the short putts he never did in his younger years.

Dan is getting to be a kid on the greens, and with full shots, that we were when we started the game. He doesn't know about lip-outs or shanks or anything, and he's 31. If he has the right mindset, and sticks to this incredible schedule, who knows?

I love it. I really do. I thought the profile was interesting, and my next stop is to get him on our Devil Ball podcast. I want to hear more about what he's doing. I just hope he has time for us between all those 3-footers.

(If you want to follow his progress, you can on his site right here, or on his Twitter @thedanplan.)

SCOTT KEELER | Times

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