© Brown Bros., N. Y.
FRANCIS OUIMET Top of Swing in the Drive for the obvious reason that one is practically sure to go into the tightening up process at an inconvenient moment.
If I were not a person of infinite patience and some degree of civilization this kind of stuff would make me write things that I know that I should never dream of wanting to say to Braid or Var-don, for the very good reason that they would never make the curious statements that are ascribed to them.
This "opening up" of the right hand at the top of the swing is wrong, absolutely wrong. Braid himself in another book says so. Let us turn to what he says about the top of the swing in Advanced Golf: "Now for the return journey. Here at the top, arms, wrists, body-all are in their highest state of tension."
Now how can "arms, wrists, body," all, be "in their highest state of tension," if the right hand is to " open a little at the top of the swing to allow the club to move easily"?
The instructions are absolutely contradictory. I may therefore be excused if I take the liberty of saying that all advice from any one about easing up and fooling about in any part of the golf swing before impact should be forgotten. It is business from the moment one picks up one's club after addressing the ball; and at the top of the drive it is tension, the highest tension from the word "go." In fact to quote Braid "hard at it" from the beginning of the downward swing.
How is it possible for the right hand to "automatically tighten itself in the downward swing" if it is already in its "highest state of tension," when it is at the top of its swing and Braid gives explicit instructions that it must be kept in this condition until the moment of impact?
Braid at page 57 of Advanced Golf says of this part of the swing: "Every muscle and joint in the human golfing machinery is wound up to the highest point." The student of the golf swing will do well to remember this sentence. I have put it in italics. Remember also that Braid is • speaking of the start of the downward swing. Remember too, if it is correct, as it practically is, that there is nothing here about slack fingers or a predominant left hand but just that "every muscle and joint" is in it and is "wound up to the highest point."
Now we must take the testimony of J. H. Taylor. At page 193 of Taylor on Golf we are told: "My contention is simply this: that the grasp of the right hand upon the club must be sufficiently firm in itself to hold it steady and true, but it must not be allowed on any account to over-power the left. The idea is that the latter arm must exercise a predominant influence in every stroke that may be played. As regards my own position in the matter, my grip with either hand is very firm, yet I should hesitate before I told every golfer to go and do likewise."
I am surprised to note Taylor's hesitation. If his method has been good enough to give him his great position, why is it not good enough to recommend to those who look to him for guidance ? For if ever there was a famous right hand "punch" in golf it is what Taylor gets out of his trusty right forearm.
Taylor really is the worst offender of the Triumvirate in advocating the use of the left; and the curious thing is that of the famous three he is the outstanding example of a right-handed hitter.
At page 107 of Taylor on Golf he says: "The club is brought down principally by the left wrist, the right doing very little until the hands are opposite the right leg, when it begins to assert itself, bringing the full face of the club to the ball."
Vardon says that any attempt to do this is fatal. Braid says "hard at it" from the top and in supreme tension. Taylor grips very firmly with both hands. Where, oh where, can this easing up and tightening up and bowing and scraping, the right to the left, come in? The answer is nowhere. It is one of the useless traditions that have been copied out of one golf book into another without proper thought or analysis.
Bear with me yet a little while, for this may mean no less than a revolution of your game and I want you to hear what the greatest golfers have to say before I show you some of the points which seem to me to bear on it.
Taylor is most emphatic about it. At page 90 of Taylor on Golf we read: "The right hand is naturally the stronger of the two-much more powerful in the average man than the left-and the learner is just as naturally prone to use it. But in the game of golf he must keep in front of him at all times the fact that the left hand should fill the position of guide, and it must have the predominating influence over the stroke.
"That this is rather unnatural I am perfectly willing to admit. Its being unnatural is the basis of its great difficulty, but it is a difficulty that must needs be grappled with and overcome by any man who desires to play the game as it should be played."
Well, Taylor himself has not grappled with it and overcome it; yet there are very few who would be bold enough to say that he does not "play the game as it should be played."
Is it not curious how Vardon wants us to search for the particular style of putting Dame Nature put up for us and Taylor wants us to fly in her face and shoo her away? Verily in the trinity of counselors there is confusion.
In the volume on Golf in The Badminton Library, Mr. Horace Hutchinson says at page 85: "Since, as will be shown later on, the club has to turn in the right hand at a certain point in the swing, it should be held lightly in the fingers, rather than in the palm, with that hand. In the left hand it is to be held well home in the palm, and it is not to stir from this position throughout the swing. It is the left hand, mainly, that communicates the power of the swing, the chief function of the right hand is as a guide in direction."
Again at page 87 Mr. Hutchinson continues: "So much, then, for the grip. Now, when the club, in the course of its swing away from the ball, is beginning to rise from the ground, and is reaching the horizontal with its head pointing to the player's left, it should be allowed to turn naturally in the right hand until it is resting upon the web between the forefinger and the thumb."
Mr. Hutchinson is a well-known golfer and golf writer in England, and I do not know any English golfer whose opinion would be received with more respect than his; yet we see that he subscribes to the popular idea of the power of the left. At least we have here his written statement and I have not seen any recantation of it.
It will indeed be hard to fit in James Braid's instructions in Advanced Golf with Mr. Hutchinson's ideas.
I have now shown you the ideas of three of the greatest golfers of all time and of one of England's most distinguished amateurs. Surely this is a weight of authority to stagger up against. Perhaps my best way is to tell here how I did it in London.
I wrote an article which was published in The Evening Standard called, if I remember, "The Power of the Left," in which I ridiculed the moldy old idea. To my surprise, on opening my paper I found the main leader, or as we say in America, editorial, devoted to my article and saying that I was putting forth what was actually "a new dynamics in golf" and much more to the same effect.
Then I was in the thick of it. Anybody who bursts up any useless old tradition, or even gives it a bump, in London, is a fool, a faddist, a theorist, or a revolutionist. If he does not recognize this before he disturbs any of the dust of centuries, and if he is not prepared to accept the position kindly and patiently-and temporarily-he deserves all that is coming to him-and that is much.
Much came to me, both in poetry and prose. I give here a sample of the poetry. This was published in Truth. I thought it rather amusing. At light verse of this description some of the English writers are extraordinarily good.