There is a marked peculiarity about this stroke which should have been enough to show any one that it was very different from the regulation stymie stroke. On account of the blow not being an arc the hands are forced to move parallel with the head of the club as the stroke is being played.
It is very hard to wean golfers temporarily from the arc, or ordinary golf stroke. In teaching this new stroke to quite good golfers I have put down a match a few inches behind the ball and the same in front and said, " Now go back in a straight line to that match, so that the middle of the sole of your club is over it, and then go smartly forward to the other match without raising the club. "Even then I have had them raise the club on the ball, and come down for the finish, but that of course had spoiled the stroke.
George Duncan, after full experiment with this stroke, refused to be photographed for Modern
Golf, playing the ordinary short stymie stroke, for he asserted that my stroke had put it out of date.
One of my critics in England stated that a full description of this stroke could be found in any book on golf. In Advanced Golf, in describing how to pitch over the obstructing ball, James Braid says: " ... it is just an ordinary chip up, with a clean and quick rise, the fact being remembered that the green must not be damaged. To spare the latter the swing back should be low down and near to the surface, which will check the tendency to dig. The thing that will ensure the success of the shot, so far as the quick and clean rise is concerned - and often enough success depends entirely upon that-is the follow-through. Generally, if the club is taken through easily and cleanly, all will be well."
Could anything be more unlike the description I give of my stroke than that 1 With my stroke one cannot damage the green, for one moves in a line with it; also the hands follow the head of the club back and forth, which they do not in an ordinary shot; while the thing that "will ensure the success" of my stroke is not the follow-through but playing the first part of the stroke, up to and including impact, in the manner I mention. It is curious to see here again the persistent error about the follow-through affecting what has gone before. It is curious also to see no reference to the importance of the low follow-through, which is not, be it remembered, important in itself, but merely so as an indication that what went before was correctly done, and for its effect before the stroke was played-if one may put it so-in determining the arc in which the club head was to travel, since the player must have decided that he would play his stroke in such a way that his follow-through would be low.
In this stymie stroke-I speak now of the one Braid is describing-the club may be "taken though easily and cleanly" every time, and yet the stroke may be an utter failure. Much more depends on the attention that is paid to elevation and keeping the club down so as to give the loft a chance to fulfil its function, which is to lift the ball.
Many players, even quite experienced golfers, forget that their duty in the vast majority of strokes is to hit the ball and that the loft will do the rest. This is not of course true of some strokes, but it certainly is of the vast majority. More strokes are ruined on the golf course by hitting upward, by neglecting to trust the loft, than by anything else.
It is not altogether curious that this is so. In nearly every other implement with which man hits a ball into the air he makes his own loft by the manner in which he turns his striking implement on to the ball. I believe that golf is the only game of any consequence wherein the player strikes a direct blow towards the desired goal and leaves the matter of trajectory to be automatically settled for him by the angle at which the face of his implement is set. It is not therefore surprising that this fault of hitting upwards takes some fighting. Women are particularly prone to this error. In many cases it would be a good idea to put, three inches in front of the ball, a small white peg three quarters of an inch or so in height and to tell one's pupil that she must not only play a good drive or cleek shot but that she must also go on and cut down the peg in front of the ball in the follow-through.
In marked contrast to the manner in which ignorant persons received the new stroke in England was its reception by America's leading player, Mr. Jerome D. Travers.
I was talking to one of the directors of a large sporting goods house in New York one very hot day, when Mr. Travers came in, and he introduced him to me. "Jerry," said he, "Mr. Vaile will talk the theory of golf with you by the day, hour and minute."
"Not on your - life, especially on a day like this," I said; "but," I added, "I'll do something better than that. I'll take Mr. Travers out to your putting green and teach him a stroke he doesn't know."
"That sounds all right," said Mr. Travers, and without any delay we went out to the putting green, where I set Mr. Travers up the wicked little stymie I have mentioned.
"Can you get in there?" I asked him.
"No, I'm pretty sure I cannot," he said; and off an unyielding floor it is not too easy.
"If I do it three times running, do you think it's a shot worth learning!"
"Certainly I do " said the open champion.
I dropped my ball in three times and the famous little golfer took the club and got right down to work. He was not bothering to decry the stroke, to call it foul or old because he didn't know it. He saw me do it. He knew it was useful He wasted no time. He learned it. This incident is typical of the American's mental outlook. He is always ready to take up anything new and good. He may, like our Missouri friend, want to be shown; but if one tells him something he does not know he does not take it as prima facie evidence that one is a fool, a theorist, a faddist or a revolutionist. In England this is a very common error. The mentality of the ordinary Englishman, in England, is not very alert. Small wonder, for it is never stimulated. The consequence is that he views any-new thought with suspicion, for it is something that may tire, nay, even bore, him.
The Right Loft for a Putter.
More than this is dangerous.
The Shallow Putter.
Note the danger of its getting under the Ball.
The edge of the shallow-faced Putter is liable to get under the Ball.
The Putter of proper Depth does not get under the Ball.