Why You Aren't a Pro Golfer
A video slide show.
This series is available as an e-book for the Kindle. Download it today.
"What an incredible Cinderella story! This unknown comes out of nowhere … to lead the pack … at Augusta. He's on his final hole. … He's about 455 yards away. … He's gonna hit about a 2-iron, I think." So begins the legend of Carl Spackler, and the finest improvised golf monologue in cinematic history. Not to be too literal-minded about a riff from Caddyshack—but why couldn't a former greenskeeper win the Masters?
One of the many ways that golf boggles the mind is how you can be both so bad at it and so good. Golf will allow moments of grace, like the 5-iron that rolls to two feet or the 40-foot putt that finds the cup. For that brief, shining moment, you hit a shot as well as a human being possibly could. You will never wrongfoot an NBA defender, you will never turn on a 95 mph fastball—but on the golf course, you can occasionally equal the best in the game. Right?
Actually, no. Golf researcher Mark Broadie has a database full of amateur shots: the drives we shank, the 9-irons that go sideways. He compared the amateur game with the pro game. The results were instructive, but they were not pretty.
Let's take a video tour.
Next: Zen Golf vs. Moneygolf
To hear Michael Agger, Josh Levin, Mike Pesca, and Hanna Rosin discuss Agger's "Moneygolf" series, click the arrow on the audio player below and fast-forward to the 16:35 mark:
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Golfer illustration by Robert Neubecker. Photograph of Tiger Woods by Jeff Gross/Getty Images. Photograph of putter and golf ball by Flashfilm/Thinkstock Images. Photograph of angry golfer © Getty Images. Golf hole illustration by Donald Sawvel/Shutterstock.