Of course, I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. At the highest levels of competition most players have dedicated their entire lives up to that point to the game. Ever heard of the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell? It is about how some people master and excel in their respective crafts from sport to artistry. In it Gladwell describes the “10,000 hour rule.” According to this principle, mastery of any subject requires 10,000 hours of focused training and practice. That is, to master a specific task requires practicing it about 20 hours per week for 10 years.

Yep, golf falls into that category.

When I talk to people about golf they don’t understand how hard it is, perhaps because it just isn’t that glamorous. I try to tell people that to become the best at golf requires the same amount of time, effort, and long term devotion as becoming an Olympic athlete. It’s not the kind of activity that you can just pick up, play around with for a little bit, and lo and behold, suddenly you’re really good at it.

Consider my post on the book Hacker to Hero in 12 Months.

In it, Dr. Michael Oliff describes the journey he took to become a scratch golf over the course of a one year period. One year to scratch sounds like a great feat. However, there are three important points to take away from his lesson:

1.       When Oliff began this journey he was already a 26 handicap.

Most people first beginning the sport have 40+ handicaps. (Annika Sorenstam in her book says that her very first handicap was a 54). Oliff, with just a 26 handicap, could already be considered at least an average golfer and not new to the game.

2.       He worked ridiculously hard hitting well over 100,000 balls.

On his journey Oliff practiced and played 12 hours per day, six days per week for the first six months followed by 8 hours per day, 3 days per week for the second six months. In January alone he carded 70 full rounds and hit 10,000 golf balls. By comparison Michael Phelps swam and practiced for 5 hours per day 6 days per week for the 4 years leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and for 5 hours per day 6 days per week for one and a half years leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London.

3.       Michael Oliff was a scratch player but still not good enough to play professionally.

On the same course from the same tees a tour player would arrive and shoot a -10 or -11, not just par. Elite players are better than scratch. So although Oliff put in roughly 2,500 more hours towards the 10,000 goal of mastery, he only reached one stage in the game – shooting par.

Back to being a mom who plays golf….

It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to get good at, and maintain, a high skill set in golf. Given this fact, perhaps you have already “mastered” golf and are playing competitively in tournaments. You will still need time to practice and to play to maintain your skill level. Perhaps you are like me and had children while you were still new to the game.

  • If you’re not already a pretty solid player do you really want to try this?
  • Are you ready to practice and play as much as you need to while being a mother?

Remember the 10,000 rule: To master golf you will need to put in roughly 20 hours per week for 10 years.

Golf represents a unique challenge, not only because it takes years to develop but because of how much money it costs. When you have a new baby money goes to diapers, formula, wipes, safety gadgets, bottles, etc. Do you really want to add the expenses of golf on top of that? Having a baby also means you must be flexible. You never know when you’re going to be up all night with a sick baby, what their sleep schedule might be for the day, or how fussy they may be. Every day is a new adventure of trying to figure out what they will eat, how they will sleep, and whether or not you will be able to put together 30 minutes to do something for yourself or just keep the house from looking like a disaster area. (Fear not, it gets easier). Golf represents a unique challenge time-wise as well. A round of golf takes 4.5 hours not including time to travel and practice. You will have to budget your time tremendously well; my solution was to bring the baby with me. To pursue golf with children you must tighten up everything else in your life.


I was new to golf when I became a Mom. In the last round I played before having my son I shot 140. I didn’t have a handicap back then but shooting twice par (in the 70s for nine holes) was normal for me. My son is now 5 years old and just beginning Kindergarten. I now have an 18 handicap and shoot in the low 90s during tournaments. I have accomplished this all while working on a Ph.D., being a full-time mom without daycare, and living in upstate New York where playing for 4-5 months out of every year is impossible.

If I had done things differently I think I could be a much better player than I am now. However, I was simultaneously new at golf and new at being a mother. I had no idea how much effort either of these took! This blog is designed to help women like me, who want to do well at golf and do well at being a mom, and do both at the same time.

Read: How to sneak in practice when you have a baby


Photo: Matb