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Make Universal Out of Particulars

The 35th Secret

It has been said that the mark of the thinker is one who can develop universals out of particulars. Applied to golf this would mean that if we discover something about hitting particular shots, our learning can be made more useful if we can express it as a general rule. For instance, our principle of "eliminate variables" makes it easier to determine the value of techniques we may wish to try. Another "universal" or generalization on a particular course could be "all putts break toward the river." The more such generalizations a golfer has, the easier golf thinking becomes.
A practical application of this comes to mind in respect to the apparently unpredictable breaks on the old putting greens of the Augusta Country Club. Some said they had been putting the greens for 20 years but still couldn't figure them out. Others tried to memorize as many of the breaks as possible. One golfing group even went so far as to make liberal use of the "trial run.
In order to make order out of nonsense, two club members dropped a circle of balls around the hole on each of the greens. From this it was discovered that in almost all cases the ball broke in an exaggerated manner either to the north or the west. Although this generalization did not help on every hole, it improved their ability to read the greens.
However, we cannot rely entirely on generalizations, unless we adopt another generalization: generalizations are only guides. One must consider whether there are particular conditions that modify the generalization. Otherwise, generalizations will become dangerous fixed ideas.