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Meaning of "Golf Bugs"

The 15th Secret

The basic fundamentals of golf are well known and provide no problems to beginners. Yet, within the framework of these principles, there is enough variation of form among topnotch golfers to confuse us. If we become tempted to model ourselves first after one player and then another, we are headed for disaster. The inherent trouble lies in the "golf bugs."
Many golfers of equal ability have easily recognizable differences of form. For each of these different forms, there are adjustments and modifications that must be made. We call these modifications "golf bugs" and no swing is without them.
You see then the danger of modeling ourselves after more than one person. The over-all swing may be fine, but we have to be shown or find out for ourselves what these new "bugs" are. ("Bugs" are also apparent to a degree in different sets of clubs, particularly with putters.)
Hogan is an advocate of placing the ball close to the line of the left heel. This is done for both woods and irons. Such placeĀ¬ment is good according to our theory, since it eliminates the variable of changing the position of the ball with each club used. However, in order for Hogan to hit shots with accuracy he has had to develop a compensating variable by changing the position of his right foot.
On the other hand, Peter Thomson has demonstrated that he can regulate distance and maintain accuracy by shifting the position of the ball. In order to do this, he has had to work out a number of modifications which in turn compensate for "bugs" inherent in his method.
Perhaps the matter of the "bugs" can be highlighted by reference to the radically different methods of Jimmy Nichols, the former one-armed world champion golfer, and Ed Furgol, former open champion. Both play par golf, but the similarity virtually ends at that point. Nichols lost his right arm in an auto accident many years ago. He was already a very good golfer. He tried desperately to play left-handed and failed miserably. One day, while practicing, he gave up in disgust, but as he left the fairway, he drew back his two iron and took a back-handed swipe at the ball. To his amazement it took off in a perfect trajectory over the caddy's head. He had used a "right-handed" swing with his left. (Incidentally, we might point out that in effect he had removed at one swipe all the variables he had added when he was using the unfamiliar left-handed swing.) Nichols had to make a number of modifications in stance and grip in order to perfect his swing and bring his scores back to the low 70s. He had to find out for himself what the "bugs" were. This led to modifications of stance and grip that are not orthodox at all.
A similar condition exists with Ed Furgol. In his case, it was his left arm that was rendered almost useless. With all due respect to a courageous golfer, his swing contains contorted action incompatible with the orthodox idea of how to make a club meet a ball. He, too, had to discover the "bugs" in his particular manner of hitting a golf shot.
This is true for all styles of play. There is danger in modeling oneself after more than one player. It was Bobby Jones' great fortune that he modeled himself after Stewart Maiden, with his famous Carnoustie swing. It is said that, at a distance, the form of the two players looked identical. Jones was able not only to capitalize on the learning and experience of his teacher, but also had a ready source of information about "bugs" peculiar to that swing and how to correct them.
Some methods of play have more "bugs" than others. In such cases a swing may have to be rebuilt from the ground up, or the golfer will play in a blind alley. Therefore, as many good teaching professionals know, if you already have a heavy investment of time in a swing, it is more efficient to stick by it, working the "bugs" out one by one.
One of my golfing friends changed from a fair putter to an excellent one when he abandoned a number of compensatory adjustments and simply eliminated two variables. His problem for some time had been that of direction. Ostensibly there was nothing wrong with his putting stroke. He had adopted the form of a golf professional who was quite good and had had considerable instruction from him. Something minute was apparently occuring during the process of the stroke, a random variation that caused some putts to go to the right of the hole and some to the left. I suggested that he set up an experimental putting situation on a carpet. After a number of sterile putting sessions in which there seemed to be no consistent pattern, he noticed that, on occasion, when he appeared to "get in the groove," he would make a very nice run of putts. Suddenly he had a flash of insight. He realized that after those occasions when the putting device did not return the ball properly and he had to retrieve it himself, he would generally miss. He concluded that his trouble lay in a change of stance or grip or both. He became considerably more accurate by simply marking his feet positions on the carpet and his thumb position on the grip during a "good run."