Golf is so well played nowadays that it is scarcely exaggeration to call it an exact science. Certainly those who excel at it require to play it with almost mathematical precision. For this reason, if for no other, it behooves the intelligent player to see to it that he is provided with the best possible implements wherewith to play the game.

Consideration of this question opens up at once a wide field of debate which goes to the very heart of the principle of the modern golf club. Originally every ball-striking implement was crooked, or curved. The cricket-bat was a kind of curved club. It has been straightened. The "crosse" used in la-crosse was originally so made that the blow fell off the line of the handle. That has now been altered. The tennis racket was in the old days lop-sided. Even the billiard cue was crooked, the original billiard cue being shaped like the ladies' bagatelle cue.

These, however, have all been straightened, and there is a general tendency on the part of all ball striking implements to come into line with the principle of having the point of impact in line with the shaft or handle.

This is shown in a marked degree even in those clubs or bats which retain the curve or angle between the shaft or handle and the striking portion. For instance, the hockey-stick has had its head much curtailed in order to bring the striking point nearer to the handle, as it is recognized that this gives greater power and accuracy.

Those who are familiar with the construction of the old golf clubs will remember that the head was very long. In the modern golf club, especially in the driver, the tendency is to "ball" the head as close as possible to the shaft, and Harry Vardon in The Complete Golfer says that this tendency is justified by results.

There cannot be the least possible doubt of this. The tendency to put the point of impact in line with the shaft marks the irresistible march of progress in the evolution of ball striking implements and in due course the golf club must both metaphorically and actually "come into line."

In the "Schenectady" putter, a very well-known club, the principle was carried a step farther, inasmuch as the shaft was made to come out of the head very nearly at the center. This was a perfectly proper and legitimate development of the golf club, but this club was barred by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews on its links. The United States Golf Association very properly ignored the ruling and the "Schenectady" remains to this day one of the most popular putters in America.

In the "Vaile" putter I have carried the center shafted principle to the full length. The shaft runs in a straight line towards the center of the club's face, but at about two inches from the head the socket turns at an angle and runs into the heel of the club.

Neither of these clubs contains any principle which is not expressed and embodied in the time-honored St. Andrews putter with its curved shaft. Instead of allowing the curve to sprawl all over the shaft I have concentrated it at the socket. My putter is simply a modernized form of the revered St. Andrews putter. I put it up to the rules committee of The Royal and Ancient Club to say whether my club was a legal club or not on their links. I had an object in doing so.

They decided that it was not a legal club. Then I showed them what they had done by the famous -or infamous-"mallet" resolution. They had barred the old "St. Andrews" putter and almost every club in every bag on every links. Certainly every socketed driver is an illegal club; so also is every iron club where the shaft runs into the head, for, according to their ruling, the head must be "all on one side of the shaft"!

It is of course sheer futility to speak of the "Schenectady" as a mallet-headed club. Any mallet I ever used or saw was longer in the driving line than across it. That is the essential principle of a mallet, it seems to me. How then can the "Schenectady" be called a club made on the mallet principle.

I am dealing at length with this matter, for I am sure that it is of fundamental importance to the game and that it will recur again and again and ultimately in such an acute form that probably The Royal and Ancient Club will have to reconsider its ill-advised attempt to define, or partially to define, a golf club.

More than seventy per cent. of the golf clubs now used are illegal according to the rules of St. Andrews. The position of this club in the world of golf is quite anomalous, is not for the best interest of the game, and should be altered. Nothing more ridiculous can very well be imagined than the simple fact that on St. Andrews your open champion is not allowed to use his favorite putter, an implement whose fame was made by another American golfer, who mainly by its assistance won the British amateur championship.

The march of progress is closer and ever closer towards the shaft, and its "logical conclusion," to use the well-worn phrase, will not have been reached until we are driving from a point in line with the shaft of the club. When this is done there will be increased accuracy in the game and increased enjoyment in it for many thousands of players who now suffer because of the unscientific construction of the golf club.

The American is a keen and analytical sportsman. He is already on the way to the truth; but in the Schenectady putter he is merely paltering with the principle. He is only half way to the actual thing. It will not be long before this is realized and then we shall see a revolution in the manufacture of golf clubs.

Vardon's actual words in speaking of the short head were: "The tendency of late years has been to make the heads of wooden clubs shorter and still shorter, and this tendency is well justified."

Perhaps the greatest structural defect in golf clubs outside of that already mentioned is the narrow face. Far too many golf clubs have narrow faces. Generally speaking the narrow faced club is a delusion and a snare. Rather should the faces be deeper. Especially is this so with many wooden clubs. I am convinced that without altering the balance or adjustment of weight materially it would be an improvement to give many of the wooden clubs a little more depth in the face. As they are now they lack "room" for some of the finest shots in the game.

The American rule on the subject of the construction of golf clubs reads as follows :