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Gradually, he moved farther from the flag, adding clubs. Eighteen months in, he played his first full round. At peak practice, he was putting in four hours on the practice green and driving range and playing 18 holes daily. He was stingy in tallying hours toward the 10, mark, only counting concentrated practice. But for the academic observers like Ericsson, it offered the spectacle of an attempt to test an idea, founded on retrospective studies, in real time. Moreover, McLaughlin would evaluate whether the dividends of long-term intensive practice were operative for adults as well as hothoused kids.

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As he progressed, McLaughlin found that many of our instincts turn out to be self-defeating. When his complimentary membership at an upscale club with a roster of serious players lapsed, he joined a cheaper club where it was hard to maintain focus among the weekend warriors. Bjork believes that the Dan Plan was popular because it resonated with the regret-tinged curiosity many people feel about the roads not taken in their lives. Fearing the Vietnam draft, he enrolled in grad school instead. But he still wonders how good he could have been.

But not for McLaughlin. McLaughlin stuck to his task for years, but 6, hours in, his back would no longer comply. Ericsson, for one, wants closure. He dreams of a foundation that would fund multiple Dans to devote themselves to excellence in different domains, mapping their steps for others. If Dan could document his path more [that would give others] a trajectory. But the Dan Plan crystallizes the sheer number of variables, beyond deliberate practice, involved in attaining excellence in a field—not least, reliable access to effective instruction and the support system and motivation provided by a cohort of peers striving toward the same goal.

McLaughlin struggled to find both of those. And what about psychological factors, even the role of negative emotion—gnawing insecurity , for example—as a driving force behind high achievement? Cramped by a shoestring budget and flawed on multiple levels, the Dan Plan raised more questions than it answered about the road to mastery. But that—appreciating how much more there is to understand—is progress, too. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Watch: What is the future of the Republican Party?

Karl Rove and Rich Lowry discuss. A professional golfer loses grip of his club during this year's Open Championship in England. Stephen Phillips is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. Golf Digest says Callaway's design of the grooves in the Mack Daddy 4 delivers an amazingly high level of grip and spin on the ball. Because there are so many different lofts and bounce angles within this family of wedges, you'll be able to more often find just the right wedge to allow for a full swing shot, according to Golfalot.

These new Callaway wedges are becoming popular on professional golf tours, and National Club Golfer says it's easy to understand why. They look great and have a cutting edge technology in the redesigned grooves. The Left Rough says Callaway made a smart decision to use indentations in the back of the club face to shift the center of gravity upward as the loft increases in these wedges, giving them a natural feel. You likely will receive additional distance with these wedges versus what you're using now, according to Worldwide Golf Shops reviewer KK Bodie , because of the impressive ball striking ability you'll have with these clubs.

Pros: Impressive design of grooves on the club face for higher spin rate, great looking wedges that pro players use, multiple options for loft to allow for more full swing shots, should receive added distance. Cons: Expensive wedges, high handicap players won't need the extra spin the club face delivers. If you're someone who needs to receive feedback from your clubs when you make contact, you'll appreciate the Mizuno S18 family of wedges.

When you strike the ball even a little off-center, you'll feel the difference. Fortunately, though, the weight balance on the club face in the S18 gives you some forgiveness for those off-center strikes. So you'll feel it when you mis-hit the shot, but it won't travel as far off line as it could have.

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Mizuno offers its S18 family of wedges in lofts between 46 and 60 degrees, giving you plenty of options for finding just the right club. Mizuno engineers have increased the width and depth of the grooves in the club face for the higher lofted wedges, which will allow the club to throw off moisture and dirt collected during the swing, ensuring a higher level of contact with the ball.

The design of the Mizuno S18 wedge places more weight toward the top of the club face.

This pushes the center of gravity higher on the blade, giving you a high level of balance as you swing the club. You'll also receive a high level of spin on the S18 because of the balanced design in the club face, as well as better control of the ball off the club. This balance should help you achieve greater distance on shots from the rough, where you may be striking the ball higher up on the club face, according to the Golfalot review. Golfers will have better forgiveness on wedge shots with the Mizuno S18 , according to Golf Monthly , because it has a wider sole than most wedges, as well as relief in the heel and toe areas.

This balance certainly can help you hit shots more squarely. Plugged-in Golf says the S18 has a high level of feel, so when an experienced golfer hits a shot slightly off-center, he or she will feel the difference versus a perfectly struck shot. This feature may not be of much use to high handicap golfers who haven't yet learned how to feel shots.

Experienced golfers will appreciate the different sole grinds on the Mizuno wedges, as they'll be able to pick the right wedge from the S18 family to match their individual swings. Golf Magazine says the S18 family is the best group of wedges Mizuno has ever developed.

Pros: New design generates better control over the ball, extensive feedback when you have an off-center mis-hit, forgiving design because of the balance of the weight in the club face and sole of the club.

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Cons: Expensive price point for a wedge, most features aimed more at experienced golfers instead of high handicap players. Advanced players talk a lot about the feel of the club, the feel of the golf ball, and a feel for the course. As an inexperienced player, the only feel you may experience on the golf course is the feel of the sand under your feet after you've put another ball into the trap. But as you gain experience playing golf, you'll gain a feel for playing the game and how different clubs perform. You'll be amazed at exactly how even the slightest difference in the contact point on the club face gives you the knowledge that a shot will be off line before you even see where it's going.

When you're making precise shots around the green, you'll want the highest level of feel from your club, because you want to precisely control spin, distance, and trajectory. The Ping Glide 2. Even less experienced players will notice the difference in the way the ball feels coming off the Ping Glide 2. You can pick from four different sole grinds within the Stealth family of clubs, ensuring you can find a design that will match your swing. Ping offers the wedges in lofts ranging from 46 to 60 degrees. The Stealth is a slight upgrade over the Glide 2.

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MyGolfSpy says the biggest change in the Stealth is the carbon steel manufacturing that yields improved durability and feel. Today's Golfer says those who like a high spin rate on their wedge shots will appreciate the extra groove Ping placed on the , , and degree wedges in the Stealth family, which generates a greater loft and control, even when you strike the ball low on the club face. The dark color on the club face in the new design of the Ping Glide 2.

One reviewer named Vlado says the Stealth wedges helped shave four to five strokes off his score, as they provide a high level of feel for all types of shots. Another reviewer named Marc L says he wished Ping made a set of irons that featured the same materials and design as the Glide 2. Pros: Provides a great feel for shots around the green, high loft Stealth wedges include an extra groove for additional spin on shots, plenty of choices in loft and sole grinds within this family of wedges. Cons: Expensive price per wedge, minimal differences in design from the Glide 2. The Wilson Harmonized wedge certainly isn't designed for low handicap players or for those who like a lot of choices in their wedges.

But don't let its basic design cause you to ignore this wedge, especially if you're golfing on a budget. The Harmonized wedge gives average and high handicap players a solid looking wedge that ensures the maximum level of spin on your shots … even if you aren't purposefully trying to spin the ball. A backspin on the ball will help you hold the green better on your wedge shots. This style of wedge will give you a high level of durability, as it has a steel construction in both the club face and the shaft.

Wilson's designers gave the Harmonized a classic look and blade shape that will appeal to veteran golfers and newcomers alike. You can pick lofts between 50 and 64 degrees. The Harmonized wedge doesn't offer a few different sole grind options, like the other wedges we've listed here, but Laser Golf Rangefinder says the single sold grind in this club is designed to give you the maximum level of versatility, whether swinging from the fairway, the rough, or a sand trap.

Amazon reviewer Goliver says the Wilson wedge gives you a high level of ball spin with nicely shaped grooves built into the club face. Whereas some wedges have so many features aimed at low handicap players that high handicap players can have trouble controlling them, A Great Golfer says you won't have those problems with the Harmonized wedge from Wilson. It delivers a true ball flight when you connect with the ball in the center of the wedge.

Even with several nice features, Honest Golfers says the best aspect of the Wilson Harmonized wedge is its very low price compared to other wedges. Amazon reviewer Craig says this Wilson wedge was a perfect addition to a set of clubs purchased earlier, as the set did not ship with a sand wedge, which is common for sets of clubs aimed at average to high handicap players. Pros: Nice looking all-steel design with a polished finish, will give you a great level of durability at a low price, delivers a good backspin on the ball, provides nice versatility for use with multiple lies.

Cons: Doesn't have the customization of more expensive wedges, not made for low handicap players looking for a high level of feel or personalization. All golf wedges are not created equal. They're differentiated by a few different features, but the loft of the club is the most prominent feature for all levels of golfers. The loft of the wedge is the angle of the club face to the shaft. A wedge with a higher loft or a more severe angle to the shaft will create a golf shot with a higher trajectory and a shorter distance, says Golfalot.

A wedge with a lower loft will send the ball farther with a lower trajectory versus high loft wedges.

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Whereas 5-irons, 7-irons, and 9-irons all have the same general loft range from set to set, wedges are available at many different lofts. A 7-iron's loft usually ranges from 37 to 39 degrees, for example, while a wedge will have a much larger potential range of lofts, from 44 degrees to 65 degrees, as The Golf Warehouse explains.

Wedges come in different categories. It's important to select the right gap between lofts in the wedges you carry. For example, if you're carrying two wedges, you may want an 8-todegree gap between the two. For those carrying three wedges, a 5-todegree gap is desirable. And if you're carrying four wedges, a 4-degree gap is ideal. Selecting the right gap between your wedges gives you more shot making abilities, versus carrying two clubs that have almost identical lofts. Beyond loft, wedges have a few other types of features that you should consider. Understand that golf club designers will aim many of these other features at low handicap players who are looking to precisely control the ball.


The old saying in golf is: Drive for show, putt for dough. But there's one more step in there: Iron play. Put a great set of irons in the hands of almost any golfer, and he or she can show improvement in shot making skills. All golf balls aren't created equally, so we've done the research to find the best golf balls you can buy. Our top pick, the Titleist Tour Soft golf ball , delivers outstanding performance and it has a distance that'll work nicely for mid- and low-handicap players. When it comes to a product as simple as a golf bag, finding innovation isn't easy. You can rotate the inner segment to be certain the golf club you need is close to you for easy access, even when the bag is attached to a riding cart with a roof.

A golf glove does more than prevent blisters. It also gives you a high level of comfort, durability, and longevity. The best all-around golf glove is the Bionic StableGrip , as it gives golfers all of the features they need to enjoy a round of golf without getting in the way. A shot from the tee box should be the easiest one you have on the golf course, as you have control over the lie.

But to get a good shot, you need the right golf tee. The color-coded Pride Professional Tee System is the best set of tees you can buy because it includes different tee lengths for driving with different types of clubs. Subscribe to our newsletter. Find all the best offers at our Coupons page. Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team.