How this multi-millionaire’s ‘3-hour rule’ can improve your golf and life

Welcome to Play Smart, a new game-improvement column that drops at noon (ET) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Director of Game Improvement content Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

I have no idea if Jesse Itzler likes golf, or if he’s even played it before. But I’ve been on a Jesse Itzler kick recently after first seeing him come across my TikTok feed dispensing thoughtful little tidbits about life and business. However, it’s easy to see how his various outlooks could apply to golf — and they were all rather interesting — so down the rabbit hole I went.

@jesseitzler

I have so many great takeaways from living with the monks, and this lesson will always stick with me… 🙏 #entrepreneur #mindset

♬ Epic Emotional – AShamaluevMusic

Itzler’s had a successful, eclectic and rather fascinating career, which started with him writing the 1994 New York Knicks theme song “Go NY GO.” Not long after that he co-founded the private jet company Marquis Jet (which was later sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and merged with NetJets), and then moved to become a partner in Zico coconut water, which was sold to Coca-Cola in 2012. He married Sarah Blakely, the billionaire co-founder of Spanx, along the way, and today spends his time as the co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks and training for a variety of incredible feats of endurance, like running 100 miles (which he’s done twice).

Over the past few weeks I’ve ripped through the two books Itzler’s written about some of the experiences he’s sought out to put on what he calls his “life resume.” The first involved living with a Navy SEAL for 31 days to take him through an insane training regimen; the second was a follow-up where he went to unplug and live at a monetary for a couple of weeks. They’re both fun and breezy reads, so if you’re into that sort of thing, I’d recommend them.

But anyway, back to golf! It was in that second book that Jesse shared his three-hour rule that he says is an indispensable part of his day — and golfers should take note.

Jesse Itzler’s 3-hour rule

Life can be hectic, and it’s easy to get swept away in it all. But amid it all, Jesse says that everyone should aim to take at least three hours per day total to do whatever you want, judgement free. In some cases that’s easier said than done, but those three hours are cumulative, so you don’t need to block three hours off your daily calendar all at once, and it doesn’t need to all be spent the same way. It can be as simple as taking 15 minutes here or there to putt around your living room; a few chips in your back yard; an hour at night reading that golf book you’ve had your eye on. Little pockets of time throughout the day reserved to do whatever you want, as Itzler explains:

“I’m a big believer that you have to carve some time out each day to do the things you love to do,” he said. “It’s my own rule that I call the ‘three-hour rule.’ You take three hours a day for yourself to do what YOU want to do. That time is cumulative. It can be going for a walk, watching TV, reading, whatever. But when you’re in that time you don’t feel guilty that you’re not with your family, at work, or doing something else. If you don’t take time for yourself — you’ll resent the people who are taking those things away from you.”

The power of allowing yourself to be unproductive for points in time is something researchers have been studying more and more recently. They find it can often lead to you being more productive when it is time to switch on, and happier overall — important mental-health benefits that shouldn’t be taken lightly during a year in which so many have been stuck inside.

It’s not always easy for golfers to play the game they love. Getting to the course and playing can often be a full-day experience that’s often reserved for the weekend — weather permitting, of course. But if golf is what you love to do as a way of getting away from it all, making conscious efforts throughout the day to weave it into your everyday life can make you happier, and healthier.

So go ahead, take a few minutes to practice your swing on the front lawn. Tell everyone GOLF.com told you it was OK.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.