There is not much difference in the swing for the cleek and that in the drive. The main difference is perhaps that it is more curtailed. The grip is also practically the same. In using this club, indeed in all iron clubs, one should grip very firmly with both hands. This may seem superfluous advice after my emphatic directions on gripping and swinging in the drive, but it is impossible to overemphasize the necessity for this with the iron clubs. One so often meets with a good deal of obstruction at and about the moment of impact that unless one's mind is specially prepared to fight it one's grip is found wanting, the club turns ever so slightly in the hand, and the stroke is ruined.
In the cleek stroke, more, possibly, than in the drive, will be found the importance of my instructions as to the distribution of weight at the top of the swing. It is of the greatest importance in the cleek shot that one keeps down to it. One must address the ball with the sole of the club quite parallel with the turf and must see to it that during the stroke the club passes the ball in almost exactly the same position as that in which it was laid to it in the address. Keeping the main portion of the weight on the left foot in the manner described by me is a wonderful assistance in this respect.
This is new doctrine to many players. It has already proved the salvation of many. It was called revolution when I first taught it. Now, many of them are going too far to the other extreme. Avoid that, for it is almost a worse error. In describing the push stroke, one journalist, writing a book for some one, says that at the top of the swing the weight should be on the left big toe. Poor toe! If you have anything from seven to fourteen pounds more on your left than on your right foot you will be doing better than if the balance is the other way.
James Sherlock weighs less than one hundred and forty pounds, or did when we were trying out the famous weighing machine experiment in London. At the top of his swing he had about seven pounds more on his left leg than on his right. He uses his left foot in the manner I advocate. Not long ago a writer in America tried to show that what I was saying was impractical and was not even in accord with Sherlock's own practise. He took a photograph from Sherlock's own contribution to a book on golf which showed Sherlock at the top of the swing and the weight very much on his right with his left toe merely touching the ground. That would have seemed bad but for the simple fact that Sherlock learned the truth after the book was published, and assisted in the demonstration willingly although it did-as the American writer said-show teaching contrary to that of his photograph; but even in that book, Sherlock, in his writing, advocates even distribution of weight at the top of the swing, and I am satisfied that anyone who consistently aims at that will not go far wrong; for in that event it will be hard to avoid that slight excess which effectually pins one down on to the left foot and is so useful, particularly in the cleek shot, in assisting one to keep the club low down in the impact.
In playing the cleek shot, as indeed in all strokes with iron clubs, it is of the first importance to get an easy yet firm action. Firmness and intention are of the essence of all iron work. This makes one statement of Vardon's about the swing in the cleek shot almost incomprehensible to me. He says: "When pivoting on the left toe, the body should bend slightly and turn from the waist, the head being kept perfectly still. Thus it comes about that the golfer's system appears to be working in three independent sections - first from the feet to the hips, next from the hips to the neck, and then the head."
This seems to me to be a most unfortunate idea to put into any one's head. In a properly conceived idea of the cleek stroke it is absolutely impossible to separate the body at the hips into two "independent sections." It is the wonderful hip movement founded on his fine foot-work, built up as I have indicated, that accounts for Vardon's perfect rhythm in his drive.
This description of the swing reminds me of a golf toy I patented some time ago. I took a figure of a golfer addressing the ball and cut him downward vertically at the neck and the hips. I then pivoted the parts together. I was thus enabled by drawing back the golfer's arms to make him put by gravity, but when I wanted him to play an iron shot his body engaged a spring which found some more force. Even in this toy the iron shot wanted more than gravity. The head remained still until the follow-through, when a pin engaged it and it turned forward with the body. After the stroke was played the figure behaved very much like many human golfers and proceeded to try the stroke over again with sundry wags of the head and downcast looks, as a matter of fact, quite a natural little golfer except that he was divided into "three independent sections."
Any attempt to get an idea of "three independent sections" or, so far as that goes, any one independent section of the golfer during the cleek shot is so bad, so untrue, so unlike real golf that it should be discarded utterly. The hip movement, instead of separating anything, is the wonderful joint that keeps everything together, that allows the left knee to go forward and a trifle inward towards the ball, that permits of the left hip following it and sets up the reciprocal backward movement of the right hip that tautens and braces the right leg to such an extent that, in Vardon's swing, the pressure on his right foot tends to be more on the right side of it than on the ball of the toe.
One must avoid any idea of working in independent sections in the golf swing. This same idea has been exploited as regards driving. It is bad golf and bad mechanics; moreover, it is somewhat of an exaggeration to speak of the head "working" as an independent section. It is no doubt performing its most important function but any one who thinks that the rest of his body is working independently of his head-and what's in it, or ought to be-is perhaps right. He ought to be the best judge. But if he is right, let him save his money and time and find some other game, for in that event he can never be a golfer.
I have emphasized the importance of keeping down to one's stroke in the cleek shot. Vardon is quite pronounced on this point. He says: "And remember that when you pivot on the left toe, the lift that there is here should not spread along to the head and shoulders, but should be absorbed, as it were, at the waist, which should bend inwards and turn round on the hips."
What you must "remember" about this critical part of a stroke that troubles so many people for a reason they never suspect, wrong foot-work, is that the proper "pivoting" (as it is so commonly mis-called) has no "lift" whatever in it so that there is nothing whatever to "be absorbed, as it were, at the waist." The proper foot-work, which I so minutely explain, tends to do the opposite to lifting one away from the ball. It really is the most wonderful cure for this very bad mistake as it keeps one pinned down to one's work.