I have given the reformation of Braid and Var-don as a useful lesson in putting. These anecdotes should be enough to prevent anyone's trying to put with drag, or backspin, which was practically what the old method of Braid and Vardon meant. Drag has its uses in billiards and misguided persons have repeatedly tried to apply the principles of billiards to strokes on the putting green; and in various articles have endeavored to show an analogy which does not exist. Golf is golf and billiards is billiards. If a player tries to teach one putting by the principles of billiards it is to be feared that he is not a very practical guide to follow.

The conditions that exist on a billiard table and on a putting green are totally dissimilar, as also is the nature of the strokes. I am aware that this seems to be almost a work of supererogation that I am performing, but it is amazing to find quite a number of people spoiling their putting by trying to put drag on the ball because they know that drag is used at billiards.

Drag is always dangerous on a putting green. I have already given various reasons for that. It is quite foolish even to think of using it in a long put, for the very good reason that a golf ball will not carry drag on a green for more than about a yard. The comparative lightness of the ball and the excessive roughness of the green and the ball as compared with the smoothness of the billiard ball and table, and also the fact that in billiards the blow is concentrated at a point well below the center of the ball's mass, go to show the futility of comparisons of this nature.

There is one case in which drag may be useful. That is in short puts of not more than three feet or so. In such a put the ball may hold its drag against the friction of the green until it gets to the hole. If it does so it has a greater chance of "working in" than the topped put, which often "rims" or "lips" the hole and runs out again. But even here the chances are that the plain put is the safest and the best. Any dragging, stabbing or topping of puts is dangerous. All cutting, pulling or slicing of puts is to be avoided, where possible, and it is possible in about ninety-seven per cent. of strokes on the green. There is one put that is the king put, the plainest of them all. One who can use this properly can let any one else have all the others with an easy mind.

Rather than waste time trying to learn how to put with drag one should go to the other extreme and try to put with top, not that this is necessary, but there can be no doubt that a very few good putters do use it to advantage. Most of them get it by hitting the ball as the club is coming up, that is to say, the ball is not hit until after the club has got to the lowest point in the swing. A ball hit thus has more run than a plainly hit put, but although such a stroke is superior to a put with drag, I cannot bring myself to recommend it, for I do not consider it necessary. Many people think that to get top in a put the ball must be hit above the center. This of course is not so. It might indeed be got by hitting the ball slightly below the center, as is often done in obtaining top spin in tennis. The difference, of course, between the put so hit and the tennis ball is that most of what goes into spin in tennis simply goes into extra run when the ball is on the green. Some writers refer to putting top "spin" on a put. Needless almost to say this is not practicable for the reasons already indicated.

I have already spoken of the false teaching of the most famous professionals and the leading writers on golf. In no case however is their teaching so pernicious as in the matter of putting. They, practically with one accord, declare that putting cannot be taught, that one must be born with the art or one can never get the secret, and then leave the unfortunate learner or golfer to despair. This is simply wonderful. We have seen that putting is at least half the game of golf. I am going to put before you the statement of the three greatest, or perhaps I should say the greatest three, professional golfers of all time, to the effect that not only are they unable to teach the most important half of golf, but that it cannot be taught; then I am going to tell you what I think about it.

Let us see what Braid, Vardon and Taylor have to say about putting. At page 143 of The Complete Golfer Vardon says: "For the proper playing of the other strokes in golf, I have told my readers to the best of my ability how they should stand and where they should put their feet. But except for the playing of particular strokes, which come within the category of those called "fancy," I have no similar instruction to offer in the matter of putting. There is no rule and there is no best way.

"The fact is that there is more individuality in putting than in any other department of golf, and it is absolutely imperative that this individuality should be allowed to have its way."

Following this we have what is possibly the most remarkable statement ever seriously put into a book on golf. Here it is: "I believe seriously that every man has had a particular kind of putting method awarded to him by Nature, and when he puts exactly in this way he will do well, and when he departs from his natural system he will miss the long ones and the short ones too. First of all he has to find out this particular method which Nature has assigned for his use."

Then at page 144 we read that when a player is putting badly: - "it is all because he is just that inch or two removed from the stance which Nature allotted to him for putting purposes; but he does not know that, and consequently everything in the world except the true cause is blamed for the extraordinary things he does."

This certainly is ingenious, but it is not very satisfactory. It does seem rather unkind of Mother Nature, after having "butted into" our golf in this manner, to hide what it is she intends us to do!