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Key to Golf Accuracy

The 14th Secret

The greatest single principle to apply in the development of accuracy is to eliminate variables. It is the most important single rule for experimentation within the broad framework of the known fundamentals, and it can lead to the discovery of important techniques. This is the only way in which the so-called "repeating swing" can be achieved. The secret is so important that with it, it is possible for a novice golfer to take charge of his own instruction after he has learned the simple fundamentals of grip, stance, and swing.
To understand what we mean by "eliminate the variables," let us imagine that there exists a mechanical golfer built like a human. However, when we start the motor, we note the operation of the robot is very erratic, so we decide to tighten the machine up at the points that seem logical.

First, we see that the top of the mechanical man sways a good bit, so we bolt the head to the ceiling in such a way that it does not move. We have eliminated one variable. (The head is still.)

Second, we see that the guiding lever arm has a loose joint in the middle, so we tighten this section so it does not bend. (We now have a straight left arm.)

Third, we note the lower part of the machine dances about the floor, so we eliminate this variable by tightening up the bolts that hold it to the floor. (Controlled foot action.)

Fourth, we find that the club twists as it strikes the ball. We eliminate this variable by seeing that the robot's hands and the shaft are firmly welded together. (Improved grip.)

We continue doing this for every variable we can find, until accuracy can no longer be improved upon. Of course, we make some concessions. Sometimes we find we can have a permissible error in accuracy in order to develop additional power, but this will occur in the relatively few distance shots.
The principle of eliminating variables will serve as a guide to instruction when the experts disagree. For instance, a good playing professional recently advocated re-gripping the club at the top of the backswing. This introduces a variable. Again, on principle, it is risky to habitually slice or hook shots. By so doing we are introducing variables. Some years ago, one of the finest putters in Georgia cut all his putts. This introduces a variable. He would have been better without it. Further, there is some disagreement among professionals as to the proper action of the left foot. Is it better to roll it, or to lift the heel off the ground? According to our theory, a variable would be eliminated if the foot is rolled rather than lifted. Hence if you are strong enough to obtain satisfactory power, it would be best to eliminate the variable of lifting the heel.
Another application of the principle: If you are faced with a problem shot, use the method which has fewer variables. For
instance: there are two ways of playing a cross-wind. One is "always play into the wind," which would mean that such shots would have to be hooked or faded. The other is "use your normal swing, but allow for the wind." The first method involves the addition of two variables—the wind and the degree of hook or fade to be imparted. The second involves only one variable— the wind. The second method has the probability of greater success.
Other illustrations of eliminating variables follow.
You have finally learned to hit a straight shot with the woods and you now wish to be able to slice when necessary. You have a choice of three methods of slicing.

1. Open the stance.
2. Open the blade.
3. Cut the ball by hitting outside in.

The second method seems to involve the addition of the smallest number of variables. Only the position of the club in the hands is changed. No muscular changes are required. In the other two methods, considerable muscular re-orientation is demanded.

Eminent golfing authorities are in disagreement on how to control distance in blasting out of traps. Some advise regulating distance by taking more or less sand. Others advise using the same stroke but varying the power. Of the two, the latter seems to involve the addition of fewer variables and is theoretically sounder.
The wind is in your face on a par three. You have the ability to play a choked four iron, a medium five iron, or a full six iron. You feel confident with all three clubs. If we follow our plan of eliminating variables, we will play the five iron. This is not too doubtful a case, as I believe most good golfers would play the hole in this fashion, but there are many golfing situations, from putts to drives, in which the decision is not quite so clear.
We can see from the above examples that the use of matched sets of clubs is of distinct advantage to the modern golfer, since they have removed many muscular variables which old-timers had to bring to bear to achieve long shots, medium shots, and short shots with one club. The sand wedge has removed some variables in trap shots. The steel shaft has eliminated the ever-changing variable of the "whip" and "torque" of the wood shaft. The all-weather grip removed another variable, and the elimination of the stymie removed an interesting variable that should have been retained.
There are many kinds of variables. There are the mechanical ones we have indicated above. There are also times when rain, wind, or the lay of the land introduces variables. There are even psychological variables. In all cases, performance is more accurate to the extent that variables are eliminated. If this rule is successfully applied, improvement is automatic.