A Foozle.

The rules of golf have always presented a difficulty to those who are intrusted with the care of framing them; and since there are many points under discussion at the present moment of writing, it will be well to take only a general view of the case. It is quite certain that many of the existing regulations as they stand are faulty, chiefly because, while they have the right aim in view, they leave so much ground for argument and discussion; and it is equally certain that before long the American golfers, who are not bound hand and foot by tradition, will introduce one or two remedial measures which will incense the conservative Briton, but will probably aid the true development of the game. Already an excellent innovation, for which the United States Association is responsible, is the method of deciding the Amateur Championship. It was considered a great step in the right direction when the competition by holes was first introduced into Great Britain; not by a Scotch club, but by the green-committee of Hoylake in England. Since the hole game is the only true golf, it seemed a pity that the Amateur Championship should be decided in any other way. A difficulty, however, has since arisen on account of the unwieldy size of the field, which threatens to make the tournament a very protracted affair. It remained for American golfers to solve the problem by inventing the dual method of play; first weeding out the poorer players by two rounds of medal play, and then selecting the champion by several rounds of hole play, - a plan which sounds very obvious and satisfactory as soon as it is suggested, for it cuts down the list of entries very quickly, and also necessitates excellence in both branches of the game; and, after all, the patience and accuracy brought out in medal play ought to count for something. Now, however, there is a proposal to go still farther into the weeding-out process by fixing a definite scratch score for every links, based upon the distances of the holes, and accepting no entry from any one whose handicap at his home club is above a certain limit. Whether this suggestion should be carried out or not is entirely a matter of expediency. If it is found that so many entries are made as to seriously militate against the success of the tournament, it will be necessary to adopt some such scheme for keeping out all those who have really no chance of winning, but merely enter for practice or amusement. The national tournament is not a nursery for embryo golfers, nor is it fair that a good player should be handicapped by having to go through the preliminary rounds with a duffer who has not the ghost of a chance of winning. One of the arguments against the acceptance of a definite scratch based on distance, is that it can be so easily obviated by a slight alteration of tees, so as to make the score as high as possible, and include a number of players who would not otherwise have qualified. Still, it must be remembered that it is always easy to defeat the ends of any government for the time being; and a certain reliance must be placed upon green-committees to do their best, not only for the interests of their respective clubs, but for the future of the game itself. In this matter of qualification, experience alone will show whether a new regulation is necessary or not; but as a general principle it ought to be remembered that golf is still a very new game in this country, and the would-be iconoclasts should be discouraged from taking any premature action which would alienate us from golfers on the other side of the Atlantic in the meantime, and in the long run prove to be quite unnecessary.

Those who look for instruction in the science of golf must turn to the pages of the Badminton book, which is still the highest authority on the subject; but it may not be out of place to throw out a few suggestions as to the spirit in which the book should be read. It must be remembered, in the first place, that nearly all the men who have taken up the game in America of recent years have reached an age when it is impossible to acquire the easy suppleness of youth. They ought, accordingly, to modify the instructions which come to them, not only from the literature upon the subject, but from many of the professional teachers, who always seem to forget that their pupils have not had the same advantages in early youth as themselves. It is nearly always wrong for a grown man to attempt a full swing to start with. I have so constantly heard the most promising beginners reproached for what the conventional book-learned player calls a lack of form, that it seems very necessary to point out that a short, clean sweep at the ball is not only far more effective, but far better form, than the angular contortions which go to make up what many beginners are pleased to call a full swing. In driving the ball, the main object is to keep the head of the club travelling as long as possible in the direct line of flight; and this must be achieved, at first, by letting the club go back only so far as is possible without making an angular bend in the swing. If this steady sweep is constantly kept in view, the beginner will find that gradually he is able to swing farther and farther back as the muscles become more accustomed to the motion, until finally he attains the proud distinction of possessing a real St. Andrews swing. In all other things, moreover, he should exercise his common-sense, and make up his mind that it is his duty to hit the ball clean every time, even if in so doing he sacrifices a good many yards in distance. Above all, let him watch the best players, and get into their style by unconscious imitation. If our beginners would only walk round with their professional teachers, and feel, as it were, the easy method of sweeping away the ball, they would learn far more than they do in a hundred verbal lessons; and when they play they should always play matches, and not trudge round the links with a pencil and score-card, trying to lower a record of their own which is absolutely meaningless. The young player who can take odds from his elders and betters, and compete with them more or less successfully, is far nearer the road to grace, although his total score should mount up ever so much higher than the record of the solitary and introspective knight of the pencil. Life would be far more worth living on a golf-links if there were a rule in every club forbidding a member to mention his score, or talk at length about the lowering of a record which nobody but himself cares about, and even he himself only half believes in. The game was originally intended to be a friendly contest of skill; the middle-aged beginner has made it a fruitful source of lying and self-deception, and a very scourge to his friends.