The article about Dan McLaughlin's quest to go from zero-to-PGA Tour through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice got linked around a bunch yesterday. Several people who pointed to it made a typical mistake. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000 hours theory in his book, he did not come up with it. It is not "Gladwell's theory" and McLaughlin is not "testing Gladwell". The 10,000 hours theory was developed and popularized by Dr. Anders Ericsson (here for instance) -- who you may have heard of from this Freakonomics piece in the NY Times Magazine -- before it became a pop culture tidbit by Gladwell's inclusion of Ericsson's work in Outliers.
Dan McLaughlin read about the 10,000 hour theory in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers -- basically that it takes someone 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become really good at something -- and decided to try it for himself. He plans to practice playing golf for six hours a day, six days a week, for six years in order to have a shot at making the PGA Tour. He's already a year in.
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.
You can follow Dan's progress at his Dan Plan site. (via @choire)