The club must now be taken slowly backwards, until the left arm is at full stretch of the ball across and close to the body. Then bring the club upwards by bending the right elbow, the left arm still remaining in a nearly horizontal position. When the right elbow and arm describes a V and the right wrist is also bent back, the club has been taken far enough, and the downward swing must commence. The club is brought back again along the same line until it hits the ball, after which the club must be taken on and up until the hands are on a level with the left shoulder and the club-head has vanished over the player's back. The latter portion of the stroke is called the "follow through"
Fig. 4. Finish of the " follow through," with a wooden club. The lower and more sweeping the swing, the longer will be the flight
All is, of course, one slow, continuous movement, from the moment when the club begins to go backwards until the follow through is completed, and it is important to try to think of it not as a hit at the ball, but as a rhythmical swing in which the actual striking of the ball is only an incident. No attempt must be made to put brute strength into the stroke; the ball is sure to travel if the swing is rightly performed, and the eye of the player kept riveted to the back of the ball, where the club must strike it. Another essential point is that the club must be swung round the body, and not taken straight up. If the swing is a stiff, up-and-down movement, the ball will fly high, but it will drop quickly and without subsequently running along the ground; the lower and more sweeping the swing, the better and longer will be the flight and run of the ball.
With iron clubs the procedure is changed, for, instead of a round swing, the club must be taken upwards as soon as it leaves the ball. A full swing should never be taken with any iron club, the backward motion being arrested when the angle of the right elbow forms a wide V and before the right wrist can bend over at all. At this point a pause, slight but perceptible, must be made before the downward swing is commenced; this pause, together with the shortness of the swing, constitutes the chief difference between play with wooden and iron clubs. The follow through is proportionately shorter, finishing when the club points upwards in nearly vertical position, with the arms stretched out to their fullest extent.
The stance (as the position of the feet is called) is slightly different (vide Fig. 6), and the grip of the hands must be very firm. Any shot from 100 to 150 yards may be played with an iron, a cleek carrying somewhat further, but beyond that distance it is generally wiser to take a wooden club. No player is too advanced to bear in mind that it is better to take a club with which an ordinarily well-hit shot will reach the hole, rather than one less powerful which will demand an exceptional stroke.
The Use of the Mashie
Shots of less than 100 yards, especially if there is any obstacle to be surmounted near the green, are usually played with a mashie, as from that club the ball rises quickly in the air, drops equally quickly, and runs only a few yards. The first thing to remember is that no effort is needed to make the ball rise from the ground, for the club is so shaped that this must necessarily happen if the wrists and forearms are kept stiff. The stance is similar to that for the iron, but the left foot may be withdrawn a trifle more, and the feet brought nearer together. Pivoting on the toes must be reduced to a minimum. The club is taken back as for an iron shot, but for only half the distance, and the follow through must be equally short, care, however, being taken in this case to turn the wrists over to the left after hitting the ball. Whereas in other shots the ball should be hit cleanly, a mashie shot is more successfully accomplished if the turf on which the ball lies is hit at the same time as the ball. For this purpose the eye must be firmly fixed on a blade of grass about an inch behind the ball, for then the club will travel to that spot, ball and turf will rise together, the ball to fly on to the green close to the hole, the turf to be replaced and trodden down into the hole whence it came, in accordance with the golfer's strict commandment, "Turf must be replaced."
Fig. 5. A full swing should never be taken with an iron club, the backward motion being arrested when the angle of the right elbow forms a wide V and before the right wrist can bend over
Fig 6. A diagram showing the position of the feet and their relation to the ball when an iron club is being used
It is well to reflect that when the total of strokes taken for a hole are reckoned, a two-inch putt counts the same as the longest drive.
The putter should not be clutched, but held lightly, the entire control and guidance of the club being effected by the first finger and thumb of the right hand, these being slightly separated from the other fingers. The putter must be taken back quite as carefully as the driver or iron, with just a suspicion of a pause at the backmost point, and a complete follow through as if the club had to pursue the ball into the hole. The direst fault when putting is looking up too soon to see whether the ball has gone down; the head ought to be immovable for some seconds after the stroke is over.
To be continued.