"Stance" means in golf the way in which one stands in relation to the ball as one puts one's club down near the ball preparatory to hitting it.
In addressing the ball one usually rests the club on the ground close to the ball and behind it. This is not permitted when the ball is in a hazard. The club may not then be grounded.
The stance which is most generally favored now is what is called the "open" stance. This means that in facing the ball the player's left foot has a greater tendency to point towards the hole than in the square stance which was formerly most popular. In the square stance, still used by many good golfers, the player stands so that a line across his toes would be nearly parallel to the line from the ball to the hole.
The consensus of opinion and the practise of experts undoubtedly points to a moderately open stance as being the most generally serviceable. Here again, as elsewhere, I strongly advise the continual examination of photographs of the best players. Imitation is probably the best way to learn any game so far as regards the actual playing of the stroke. Unless, however, one knows a good deal of the reason for the positions that one is imitating one will lose a very great amount of time. The ideal way to learn golf is to get the analysis of the motions and the reasons from the book and then watch these being translated into action, not by one, but by dozens, of the leading players. This will be inconvenient for many people. The next best thing is to see all the photographs one can. One will not realize for some time how much benefit one is deriving from this method, but it is bound to make itself felt. Insensibly the outstanding points of importance impress themselves on one's mind and are finally incorporated in one's game.
This will not come to pass without intelligent effort and critical examination and comparison; but with these there is no doubt of the benefit to be obtained from photographs. Let me give an illustration. One of the commonest, and ugliest, faults of players is turning on the point of the left toe at the top of the swing and presenting the heel to the hole. If one has any idea of ever getting to know what rhythm means one must watch this left heel. After one has seen a dozen or two photographs and has compared the positions of the left heel at the top of the swing one will very thoroughly have learned the position in which it should be and probably much else of importance about what the left foot is doing at this time.
The ball is generally addressed so that it is roughly speaking opposite the left eye. Some books give one the measurements in feet and inches. This cannot successfully be done. No two people "come at" a ball in the same way. This really is a case where one requires to let the pupil assert his "individuality," provided always that he does not immediately proceed to outrage Nature instead of trying to support the theory that she has especially interested herself in the production of golf strokes.
Another way of indicating the relative position of the player to the ball in the drive is by saying that if a line were drawn from the ball towards the player at a right angle to the line to the hole it would run six to eight inches behind the player's left heel. Even this must be taken as a general indication. There is nothing worse than getting it into one's mind that one must take up some particular attitude, for the truth about the golf stroke is far removed from that. It must be the most natural, unconstrained thing that my teaching and your thought and practise can produce or you will not get the enjoyment from it that you should.
It must be remembered that in this chapter on driving I am writing of the driver and the brassy,
A Short Approach.
Stance and Address with Mashie or Jigger.
JEROME D. TRAVERS.
for, generally speaking, what applies to one applies equally to the other.
In addressing the ball one must endeavor so to regulate one's distance from it that one can hit it with a free easy swing without having to overreach, as this, of course, must tend to inaccuracy. On the other hand it is almost a worse fault to get too close to the ball, as this is quite fatal to good driving. It is only natural that it will take some little time for the beginner to find out his right position and, even when he is assisted by a professional, he need not expect to get it all at once. This is another case where sometimes the hard letter of the law must be relaxed to allow for personal idiosyncrasy. The main thing to be kept in mind, or rather to be assimilated, stowed away in the pigeon-holes of the mind and sub-consciously used, is that, so far as regards this particular matter, there is a lot of centrifugal force behind the head of a driver in the golf swing and that one should allow just so much as is necessary for the consequent swinging out of the club head. To correct this swinging out some golfers, without knowing why they do it, address the ball with the toe of the club. This is not to be recommended as a general practice. One should always address the ball, as nearly as possible, as one intends to return to it.
At the address the weight of the body should, as nearly as possible, be distributed equally between the legs. This again is one of those important things which nevertheless can be dismissed from one's mind almost as soon as one is told about it. It is so natural that having done it once or twice it will never occur to any one to do anything else. So, indeed, is it with the address. Nine of ten persons if given a driver and told to drive a ball would, so far as the relative position of feet and ball is concerned, take up a fairly good square stance. The alteration from this position to the open stance is very easy and is not unnatural.