The 2nd Secret

It was a source of irritation to me in high school geometry when the teacher insisted that we figure each proposition out for ourselves. Many of my classmates memorized the proof, but I tried conscientiously to arrive at the answer. As a consequence, my grades were not what they should have been. My final conclusion was that if it took civilization some million years to discover that parallel lines cut by another line had certain peculiarities, I could not be expected to discover them overnight for myself.

The same is true of golf. A great deal of time can be saved if we absorb what is already pretty well known about the game. Each generation of golfers is better than the preceding one because use is made of the experiences of those who have come before us. Hence the individual can speed up his mastery of the game by sticking close to present orthodox form.

A description of this form is the stock in trade of the professionals and should be acquired from them. It is true that there are good golfers who profess never to have taken a lesson, but most of these have been good imitators. Further, there are hundreds of thousands who have not taken lessons who are still duffers and thus are not in a position to boast. There is no greater frustration in golf than to find out, ten years too late, that a golfing flaw could have easily been corrected by a competent professional. All would be well advised to seek the services of one and to stick to him until what he had to teach had been absorbed. This does not mean that many lessons should be taken ad infinitum. Fewer lessons, spaced so that ample time is allowed for the learning to sink in, is the better way.

In addition, it is an excellent idea to obtain all the visual instruction one can. This can come from a study of still pictures, or films, or from observing professional golfers, particularly when they are practicing. Written instruction from golf books and magazines is also valuable, provided it is followed by the objective observation of your professional. Otherwise, a misconception of what the author intended will bring about confusion in your golf learning. It has taken golf 500 years to develop the modern grip, stance, and swing. It is the height of folly not to take advantage of these discoveries.

In the early stages of lesson taking, it is advisable to spread the instruction time over many parts of the game. If, for instance, you had the good fortune to be able to take a series of lessons from someone of the caliber of Arnold Palmer, it would be best to obtain instruction in all broad aspects of the game, such as might be obtained from a playing lesson. Generally speaking, it has been found that learning is tied together much better if one goes through the whole process than if he learns it piece by piece. This should be followed up with considerable practice before the next lesson. By “considerable,” we would mean at least a thousand shots each for woods, irons, chips, and putts.