A year later ...
“I have written enough,” I told family and friends when I retired from Sports Illustrated. “I shall devote my remaining years to jazz piano and golf.”
True to my word, I plunged into a rigorous schedule of late-night keyboard exercises on my 7-foot Kawai, bolstered by mid-afternoon wedge workouts at Kansas City’s Heart of America Par-3 Course. One wonderful year later, I can sum up the results in a single word: tendonitis. My elbows feel like someone injected drywall mud into them. My wrists ache when I scrub a pot.
“Has it occurred to you,” my wife, Pat, asks repeatedly, “to rest the afflicted body parts?”
“If only I could,” I reply.
Unfortunately, I am a slave to the “10,000-Hour Theory” — the widely-accepted notion that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to master a discipline. To play the piano like Bill Evans or Monty Alexander, I have to practice five hours a day for the next five years. To groove a golf swing like that of Freddie Couples or Phil Mickelson, I must put in an additional five hours per day at the golf range, not counting the commute.
“And it’s not like I can double my practice time on one while I take a break from the other,” I explained to Pat. “The fingers, wrists and elbows are key components of both.”
Twelve months on a pension, however, has convinced me that I was wrong about one thing. I haven’t written enough. (Not if I want to keep spending July in Scotland and Ireland!) To placate my muse, I have promised 15 or so pieces to SI Golf Plus and GOLF Magazine, including a five-part reprise of “This Old Course,” the award-winning series about golf-course renovation. I will also continue to write and produce my golf course blog, “John Garrity’s Top 50.”
Going High Tech
Also in production is the long awaited sequel to Tour Tempo, John Novosel’s best-selling golf instructional (published by Doubleday and co-authored by yours truly). Tour Tempo 2: The Short Game and Beyond is packed with new discoveries and insights about golf’s most neglected fundamental. And because video and audio are an integral part of tempo training, John and I are publishing Tour Tempo 2 as an e-book on all the leading digital platforms. Expected pub date: uh, soon.
Makes a Great Gift
For you dead tree fans — and that includes most golfers — I am still flogging the trade paperback of Ancestral Links: A Golf Obsession Spanning Generations.
Here's what Carne Golf Link's seventeenth looks like from behind the green. A par 4 of 436 yards, it reminds some of the Road Hole at St. Andrews — the principal differences being that it's longer, tighter, scarier looking, infinitely tougher ... and there's no road. I played this hole more than 500 times during my sabbatical (read the book to find out why). I birdied it just once.
You’ll find Ancestral Links in the sports aisle of your bookstore, unless some knowledgeable clerk has shelved it with the Irish travelogues or the books about genealogy by writers, like myself, who have absolutely no interest in genealogy. The $15 price is pretty steep for a golf writer’s memoir, but it’s still less than I spend for a month’s supply of Aleve.
Speaking of which, it’s time for me to pop a couple of pills, rub my elbows and fire up the digital rhythm track for Horace Silver’s “Song for my Father.”
Eight thousand hours to go.