Pulling and Slicing - Bunker Play - The Golfing Temperament, and How it Wins - Etiquette
In the majority of games there is a certain point of excellence after reaching which the player is comparatively immune from the mistakes of the beginner, but in golf the most experienced may play badly for no apparent reason. Consolation for this uncertainty may be found in . the fact that correction is easier than in other games, because in golf the stroke must be executed in a certain way, and so the offending action can be discovered and remedied.
The commonest faults, which attack even the best players at times, are pulling and slicing. To pull is to send a ball to the left of the direction intended, and up to a certain point a pulled ball travels better than any other, because a pull can only occur when the shoulders have been brought well through after the ball is hit, but if this follow-through is exaggerated, length is actually lost instead of gained, and accuracy of direction can never be assured. The cause of pulling is generally a too tight grip with the right hand, and also a tendency to sway the body backwards and then lurch it forward as the ball is hit. The cure is to hold the club lightly, and to keep the body as still as possible during the swing, merely pivoting from the hips. Slicing, or sending the ball too much to the right, is even more fatal, for a sliced shot travels no distance, and the generality of courses abound with hazards placed to punish.such shots.
The commonest source of trouble is standing too close to the ball; this means that the swing will be arrested as soon as the ball is hit, instead of there being a good follow-through, and if the follow-through is neglected, the weight of the body remains on the right foot instead of being transferred to the left at the moment of impact, so that the player falls back away from the ball.
As, however, no one can hope always to drive perfectly straight, it follows that certain number of shots will find out the hazards at the side of the fairway, in the shape of natural sand dunes or bent grass, heather, rough ground, or artificial sand bunkers. To extricate the ball from any of these requires a special stroke, which a woman especially should take pains to practise, as she naturally lacks the muscular strength which gives a man his superiority in this department of the game.
The beginner must use her mashie for such strokes, but she who possesses the full
Figure 2. Position of the hand and club at the finish of a mashie shot from turf complement of clubs will rely on a niblick with a stiff shaft and plenty of weight in the head.
The first essential is to stand well behind the ball, particularly if it lie in loose or heavy sand, so that it is a trifle in front of the left foot, for the ball must be made to rise quickly. To further ensure this, the club face must be turned slightly outwards at the moment of impact and during the follow-through (Fig. 1), contrary to the method with a mashie shot when the ball lies on grass, when the hands and club turn to the left after striking the ball (Fig. 2). In the backward swing the stroke resembles that with a mashie, and again the club must not be directed at the ball itself, but at the sand or grass a couple of inches behind it. The club cannot be gripped too tightly, and though the backward swing must be deliberate, it is well to hasten the return journey, so as to apply all the force possible consistent with keeping the club under control.
Occasionally, the player is confronted with the problem of playing a ball that is floating in water, for though the ball may be dropped without penalty from casual water on the course, such as pools formed by rain, there is a penalty of one stroke if the ball be dropped from casual water in a hazard, and the finished player, rather than incur this loss of a stroke, will find it worth while to attempt desperate measures.
Courage and keeping the head still are the chief requisites, with a determination not 1o shut the eyes to avoid the splash. This, however, is small if the stroke is properly executed, for the ball should be taken almost clean, the club being aimed no more than half an inch behind the ball, not several inches, as so often is done. A niblick or mashie is the usual club, but a daring full iron shot which sent the ball at least 150 yards out of the water has been made. The heroine of this exploit was Miss F. Hezlet, now Mrs. Cramsie, the Irish Internationalist, and the occasion the Open Ladies' Championship, played at St. Andrews in 1908 - an event famous for sensational shots from hazards, as it was in the final there that Miss Maud Titterton, the winner, made a marvellous recovery from between the sleepers on the railway line which skirts the world-famed links.
Though all have not the skill with which to execute these tours de force, the golfing temperament which inspires them should be cultivated by all, for at no other game do an unruffled temper, cool judgment, pluck, and a philosophical acceptance of good and bad luck reap their own reward so quickly as at golf.
There are four points in this connection which none can grasp too soon or too clearly. First, that it is impossible to play well if one's own bad shots or the opponent's brilliance are allowed, even temporarily, to act as an irritating factor. The player who is out of temper, with herself or anyone else, hits at the ball so as to propel it by brute force and not by accurate swinging; in golfing parlance she "presses," and the results are disastrous.