A Good Lie.

A Good Lie.

As far as I am able to judge, there are many nine-hole courses in the East which are admirably constructed, - Meadow-brook, for instance, being very well laid out; but there is not one of the eighteen-hole rounds that approaches perfection. Take Shinnecock, for instance, which, from the nature of its soil, ought to be an almost ideal field for play: there is hardly a single hole of a good length; that is to say, the distances are so arranged that not only is the prowess of the good golfer seldom brought into evidence, but the chances of good and bad are in a fair way of being equalized. The chief thing to aim at in distributing the holes is to arrange them in such a way that each can be reached from the tee by one or two or three full shots, as the case may be. That is practically the whole gist of the matter. For it is obvious that, under such conditions, a player cannot miss a single shot, cannot even play an indifferent stroke, without being penalized. If, on the other hand, the length of a hole is such that it cannot be covered in one shot, and yet if the drive off the tee goes only a hundred yards or so, it can still be covered in two, by the aid of a good second; then it is evident that one drive is, for all practical purposes, as good as another. When there are many holes of such a description, a player may make a bad drive off every tee, and yet defeat an opponent who never misses a single shot in the round. A careful study of the best courses in Great Britain will show that the number of holes measuring from two hundred and forty to three hundred yards are exceedingly rare; in other words, the rule referred to above is the one essential toward excellence.

The St. Andrews Club, Yonkers, N.Y.

The St. Andrews Club, Yonkers, N.Y.

As for the hazards, they should be sand-bunkers, as far as possible. Sand should be procured, even at a considerable cost, because there is no other kind of hazard that answers the purpose so well. They should be of such a nature that a good player can always extricate himself from the difficulty in one stroke, and they should, above all things, be varied in their construction.

The everlasting line of cops seen on so many of our inland courses are both an offence to the eye and to the intelligence.

The difficulties thrown in the path of a discriminating golfer should be of a far more subtle nature. In driving off the tee, it is generally well to have something in front to catch a missed ball, and the hazard ought to be large and well-defined; a little ditch at one hundred and twenty yards distance is not nearly sufficient, because it punishes only a few out of the many bad shots. If possible, the hazard should extend in many cases over the whole distance between the tee and the carry of a moderate drive. Then, as regards the hazards near the putting-green, particular care should be taken to have them placed in various shapes and positions. A single bastion in front of every hole is more often an aid to success than a ground for misfortune; it is an easy guide to the eye, and induces a player to be bold in his approach, - a quality in which he is often deficient. Hazards should be placed on every side of the hole, more especially beyond it, so that every approach may call for careful calculation. Finally, let me repeat, that trees and stones must, at all costs, be removed; and the requirements of a good golf-course will have been fairly stated.

When we have arrived at such a measure of excellence as this, the difficulties of the rules and regulations of the game will begin to solve themselves. The United States Golf Association, for instance, passed a rule permitting a player in a match to lift his ball out of any difficulty at the penalty of two strokes. Now, this was in direct opposition to the original idea of the game that the ball should always be played under any circumstances, or else the hole should be given up. The excuse for the change made by the Executive Committee was that there were many courses in the country where conditions were different, and where it would often be impossible to hit the ball at all. The answer to such an argument is apparent. Such a course is not fit for the proper exercise of the game, and ought not to be admitted to membership in the Association. Although it is impossible always to reproduce the perfect turf and bracing sea air of the Scotch links, it is quite feasible to lay out a course in such a way that it may be as good a test as possible of proficiency in the game. Take, for instance, the Chicago Golf Club links at Wheaton. The course has been in existence only two years; and yet when a few additional bunkers are finished, which are at present under construction, it will present as fair a field for the settling of rival claims as any links outside of the first half dozen or so in Great Britain. Of course the quality of soil is different from that of St. Andrews or Prestwick, but the turf is excellent; a good drive is hardly ever punished by a bad lie; the hazards are of the proper sort, chiefly consisting of sand-bunkers, with an occasional water-jump; and, above all, there are no trees, stones, or buildings on the course. The holes are laid out in such a way as to eliminate as far as possible the element of chance; and, taking it all in all, it is probably the only eighteen-hole course in the country which can compare with the best links abroad. I state this, not as a matter of prejudice, but because it is an incontrovertible fact, and one which should be taken into consideration by all green-committees; for it is a simple proof that nearly all the Eastern courses could be improved to a similar extent by keeping the true ideal constantly in view.

A Foozle.