If The Pros And I Both Have Trouble, Am I A Pro?

Yesterday I played in my usual Monday game. It’s a stableford format tournament with a group called the Good Old Boys, full of guys ranging in age from their 50’s into their 90’s (no joke). Everybody competes against their previously established points average, so it smooths out the ability differences in the players.

The weather here in the Texas Hill Country was the same as it was at the HP Byron Nelson Championship over the weekend – hot with a screaming wind. We had gusts to 35 or 40 mph with a steady wind of at least 15. It was a tough day to shoot a better than average round, and we all had fun joking about how this kind of weather gave even the pros a lot of trouble. The day was full of “It was fun seeing those guys have to contend with what we have to play in,” etc.

The book Paper Tiger, by Tom Coyne, is a nice antidote whenever you go too far down the road of comparing your game to the pros.

Paper Tiger, by Tom Coyne

Coyne was a good junior golfer who didn’t play seriously for quite a while and then decided to spend a year rehabbing his game and trying to make it through Q-School. The book recounts his up and down year, in which he reportedly played 5,418 holes, spent forever on the range, dropped his handicap to a +.4, and lost over 26 pounds while getting fit. All this was in 2003-2004, before Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hours of effort to get to expert theory. Gladwell’s theory’s application to golf got some attention here, and is being tested by golfer Dan McLaughlin now.

Paper Tiger is an entertaining tale of Coyne’s experiences, and all golfers will find themselves identifying with his successes, failures, and collapses at critical moments. He finally can’t get into the PGA Q-School because of his lack of tournament experience, but he plays in the Canadian and Australasian Q-Schools. At the end, it’s a nice commentary on golf being about the journey rather than the destination, about the play rather than the score.

And if you ever start to think that you might be able to play with the big boys, read this book and call me in the morning.

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