How To Remember
The 21st Secret
Shots are often missed because of an attempt on the part of the golfer to concentrate on two or more things
simultaneously. This produces confusion. It is much easier if we remember things serially. On an important shot,
for instance, the "countdown" might be: ball at left heel, feet firmly planted, firm left hand, right elbow close
in, head still, straight left arm, and finally, firm hit!
If such a series or a similar one is run through until it is automatic, good form will be easily remembered. If a
fault develops, whatever remedy is suggested by the pro can be incorporated in the series. Eventually the only
thing to try to remember is your final improvement.
It is a good idea to use words or labels to help you recall how to hit certain shots. I once had a great deal of
trouble with a trap shot when I was close to the bank. I noted the ease with which Snead made this in a Master's
tournament. I copied his form and I can recall this form by simply saying to myself, "This requires the Snead
shot." By recalling "Hogan's chip", I also automatically adopt a reasonable facsimile of the Hogan method of
chipping. I find that in the areas in which I thus verbalize I have the least difficulty in remembering how the
shot is to be played.
This makes use of the Gestalt principle in psychology, which, in general, means that we tend to learn by wholes
rather than by parts. It would be very difficult for a caddy to analyze piecemeal the swing of any particular club
member, but he can often mimic the swing in its entirety if he recalls the total image. In this connection, Bobby
Jones states that there is too much concern with the niceties of the mechanics of the game and not enough emphasis
on just hitting the ball with the club.
Perhaps a compromise is in order. Learning in the early stages can be broken up by verbalizing serially—the
countdown —until it becomes automatic. Then concentrate only on the last thing learned. The latter will not only
assist you to incorporate an improvement in your swing, but will also prevent you from thinking of those parts of
your swing with which the conscious mind should not be concerned.