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Malcolm Gladwell's take on golf


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#1 newbsauce

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 02:53 PM

I'm sure many of you know Malcom Gladwell.  He's written some of the most influential books of our time, including two of my personal favorites Outliers and Tipping Point.  Rather than writing another book, he decided to start making podcasts.  The first season of his podcast Revisionist History was some of the best journalism I've ever experienced.  The first episode of the second season of Revisionist History was just released this week.  The new episode is entitled "A Good Walk Spoiled" (which was Mark Twain's take on golf in his notoriously pithy style) and is subtitled "Rich people and their addition to golf: a philosophical investigation".

I don't think much of Gladwell's criticism applies to the average WRX-er (I'm boldly assuming none of us are Fortune 500 CEOs or LA country club members).  Still, the episode is relevant and interesting; so I thought I'd share.  If you're not already podcast savvy, here's a more traditional website link: http://revisionisthi...lected=season-2

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#2 wmblake2000

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 05:30 PM

Thx for that. I haven't listened yet but I like gladwell and will ... maybe listen to the whole set of podcasts...
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#3 MtlJeff

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 05:41 PM

I like Gladwell a lot, but he does take some liberties overall i find. I've read all his books, i really like David and Goliath which i just read

Will listen
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#4 cmb71

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 05:47 PM

D&G was my favorite of his books.  I'll take a listen later as well.
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#5 MtlJeff

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 05:56 PM

After 10 minutes not super impressed. Again Gladwell is good at arguing things and brings interesting data, but it's funny i mentioned he takes a lot of liberties above and this is no different

He says there's a correlation between golfing CEOs and failing businesses but out of the 300 or so they found the average amount of rounds was something like 15, which is not a lot but he makes it sound like it is. He said the "high" average (of the top golfers) was like 35. Which he equates to "5 weeks of work".....even CEOs are allowed weekends? 35 rounds a year in a warm weather state isn't crazy. But to suggest outright that golf contributed to these companies struggles is a MASSIVE reach without presenting all data. But he presents it like it's hard data. Again i think he assumes most of his listeners are smart enough to see through this, but it's just his style, he takes a lot of liberties

But i do agree with his overall "vibe" that golf is a sport of the elite, and that land could be better used for other things (i have argued this in "grow the game" threads). I also think that as distribution of wealth continues to shrink, golf will become less relevant in the next 30-50yrs so that will probably take care of itself

Anyway, running out to a dinner but will finish later

Edited by MtlJeff, 15 June 2017 - 05:57 PM.

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#6 LansingMI

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:07 PM

One sided and narrow focus. Its a super rich guy complaining about other super rich guys....

he should look into joining that club, he would probably fit right in.



*EDIT

Im a fan of the guy and his podcast and his books(ontape). Sometimes he just smells a bit disingenuous and phoney.

Edited by LansingMI, 15 June 2017 - 06:15 PM.

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#7 acemandrake

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:23 PM

Anyone who thinks that golf is a sport for the elite has not spent much time at a public course.  There's a lot of activity (& happy, healthy golfers) beyond the private clubs.

BTW, what is wrong with an aging populace getting exercise through golf?  

I'll never understand the level of hate from those who don't know what they're talking about.

Golf is just an easy target for the intellectually lazy.

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#8 CMCSGolf

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 07:08 PM

View PostMtlJeff, on 15 June 2017 - 05:56 PM, said:

After 10 minutes not super impressed. Again Gladwell is good at arguing things and brings interesting data, but it's funny i mentioned he takes a lot of liberties above and this is no different

He says there's a correlation between golfing CEOs and failing businesses but out of the 300 or so they found the average amount of rounds was something like 15, which is not a lot but he makes it sound like it is. He said the "high" average (of the top golfers) was like 35. Which he equates to "5 weeks of work".....even CEOs are allowed weekends? 35 rounds a year in a warm weather state isn't crazy. But to suggest outright that golf contributed to these companies struggles is a MASSIVE reach without presenting all data. But he presents it like it's hard data. Again i think he assumes most of his listeners are smart enough to see through this, but it's just his style, he takes a lot of liberties

But i do agree with his overall "vibe" that golf is a sport of the elite, and that land could be better used for other things (i have argued this in "grow the game" threads). I also think that as distribution of wealth continues to shrink, golf will become less relevant in the next 30-50yrs so that will probably take care of itself

Anyway, running out to a dinner but will finish later

Yes, I completely agree with this assessment of Gladwell's work.  He is one of the best story tellers of the last few decades and brings a lot of interesting ideas to light, but the conclusions he draws (and states as facts) are absurd sometimes.  I didn't listen to the podcast, but the example here of the causal nature between number of rounds and company performance is a great example.  There is almost surely a confounding factor that is the actual cause (if there really is one) because the theory for golf causing business declines is weak.

I listened to the first season of his podcast and had to stop because of the liberties he takes.  If he presented his arguments in a less certain way and explained the caveats of what he finds in a more honest way, I would find his work more palatable.  It's been well documented that his book Outliers misrepresented the 10,000 hour genius rule.  I believe I have even heard the original authors of the study call him out for this.  

Either way, this is just a long way of saying I'm not too surprised that Gladwell is not fairly representing the game we all love.

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#9 acemandrake

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 07:08 AM

Back in the early 1980's when running/jogging were very popular, a business publication (WSJ, Fortune or Forbes) said that a person's career may be suffering if they are spending too much time running and not enough time at work.

Golf:  The easy target for the angry and intellectually lazy

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#10 Oldboy

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 02:06 PM

the more interesting portion of the podcast was the property tax exemption issue with private golf courses in california .. and the fact that the LACC property is probably worth upwards of $9 BILLION and they pay nothing close to what they should in taxes through some loopholes because of state propositions.

the other point about Los Angesles not having any public parks of note compared to the other large metro areas like NYC or SF and having all these private golf courses as greenspaces made me pause for a second

and the guy opens with the fact that he doesn't like golf .. so it is what it is


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#11 Gamble Gamble

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 09:37 PM

View PostMtlJeff, on 15 June 2017 - 05:56 PM, said:

After 10 minutes not super impressed. Again Gladwell is good at arguing things and brings interesting data, but it's funny i mentioned he takes a lot of liberties above and this is no different

He says there's a correlation between golfing CEOs and failing businesses but out of the 300 or so they found the average amount of rounds was something like 15, which is not a lot but he makes it sound like it is. He said the "high" average (of the top golfers) was like 35. Which he equates to "5 weeks of work".....even CEOs are allowed weekends? 35 rounds a year in a warm weather state isn't crazy. But to suggest outright that golf contributed to these companies struggles is a MASSIVE reach without presenting all data. But he presents it like it's hard data. Again i think he assumes most of his listeners are smart enough to see through this, but it's just his style, he takes a lot of liberties

But i do agree with his overall "vibe" that golf is a sport of the elite, and that land could be better used for other things (i have argued this in "grow the game" threads). I also think that as distribution of wealth continues to shrink, golf will become less relevant in the next 30-50yrs so that will probably take care of itself

Anyway, running out to a dinner but will finish later

I agree with this 100%.  My biggest issue with Gladwell is that his arguments are great until you peel back his correlations and realize he's likely just p-hacking to find interesting points.  He takes too many liberties and I try to adhere to a maxim that the greater the accusation the greater the evidence you need to make me believe it.  

Evidence should scale with the size of what someone is asserting.

Edited by Gamble Gamble, 05 July 2017 - 09:37 PM.

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#12 Dseebera

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 11:01 AM

View PostOldboy, on 20 June 2017 - 02:06 PM, said:

the more interesting portion of the podcast was the property tax exemption issue with private golf courses in california .. and the fact that the LACC property is probably worth upwards of $9 BILLION and they pay nothing close to what they should in taxes through some loopholes because of state propositions.

the other point about Los Angesles not having any public parks of note compared to the other large metro areas like NYC or SF and having all these private golf courses as greenspaces made me pause for a second

and the guy opens with the fact that he doesn't like golf .. so it is what it is

Oldboy you nailed it.

He admits to an anti-golf bias at the outset so you know exactly where he is coming from. He doesn't play golf and it appears that he doesn't know (or like) many people who do -- which is his loss. Many of his points are valid though and while I won't necessarily bring this up with friends of mine who are members at LACC and Brentwood, the tax exemption thing is fascinating. The green space is a constant discussion in LA and people often cite proximity to the ocean as a defense for the lack of parks.

I did enjoy the discussion about changing planks on a ship. is it a new ship?

worth a listen.
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#13 bscinstnct

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 11:27 AM

Bet if he pured an iron just once

Hed break out in a huge smile and be hooked ; )

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#14 Gamble Gamble

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 06:18 PM

View Postbscinstnct, on 13 July 2017 - 11:27 AM, said:

Bet if he pured an iron just once

Hed break out in a huge smile and be hooked ; )

have you seen the guy, i would bet he has never played a sport in his life*




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