The United States Golf Association will not sanction any substantial departure from the traditional and accepted form and make of golf clubs, which, in its opinion, consists of a plain head shaft and a head which does not contain any mechanical contrivance, such as springs; it also regards as illegal the use of such clubs as those of the mallet-headed type, or such clubs as have the neck so bent as to produce a similar effect.
The shaft of a putter may be fixed at the heel or at any other point in the head.
The term mallet-headed, as above used, when applied to putters, does not embrace putters of the so-called Schenectady type. U. S. G. A.
I think it was a great pity that the United States followed St. Andrews' questionable lead in any way. The good sense and sportsmanlike spirit of the golfer would at all times have been sufficient safeguard for the interests of the game. As the rule at present stands it is bad. The full interpretation of the St. Andrews authorities about the head being all on one side of the shaft is not included in the copy of the rules that I have.
Under the American rules one might be excused for asking how can the neck of a club be so bent as to produce a mallet effect. What they really mean, but do not express, is a center shaft effect, and it would indeed be a great mistake if they were to try to introduce such legislation. A club with the center shafted effect is always a better driver than one with a straight handle, if the effect is properly obtained.
A friend one day handed me an old driver and said, "I cannot understand how it is, Vaile, I can always get thirty yards farther with this club than any other and I am always on the line with it. Can you explain it?"
I ran my eye along the shaft and saw that it had a most pronounced warp so that it was bowed quite a lot towards the line of flight, speaking now of the club as at the address. I told my friend that he had, in effect, a center shafted club for the warp in his shaft was the same thing as the curve in the old St. Andrews putter and as my angle at the neck of the Vaile clubs, that he had by accident got hold of a club that was scientifically constructed or had taken on a proper shape on account of climatic effect. There is a young professional in America who strips the shaft of every driver he gets until he produces this effect. He is one of the longest and straightest drivers in America. I sometimes wonder what would he the result if some cantankerous person seriously challenged the stupid "anti-mallet" rule. As a matter of fact there never was any necessity for it. It really started from the innocent question of a little club in New Zealand called the Nga Motu Golf Club. They made golf history by asking if it was legal for one to use a club fashioned like a small croquet mallet. St. Andrews seized on the opportunity to perform a work of supererogation and used its official position to oppose the scientific evolution of the golf club.
Can any one imagine a person, in an event of any importance, daring to appear on a green with "a small croquet mallet"? I think not, indeed. Nor would any one who knew anything about golf be so stupid as to try to do so, for, as I have shown, the deep (in this case it would be the long) sole is an added chance of error, without any adequate advantage that cannot be obtained better in another way; for instance, by shifting the shaft of the "Schenectady" into the center of the club, or, rather, so that the center line of its shaft cuts the point of impact, thus making it a true center-shafted club and therefore a better golf implement than it now is. If this were done, nobody with any sense of the meaning of words could speak of its mallet principle, unless perchance the owner took to putting with the actual heel instead of the face!