He would thus discover when he had plenty of room for a straight drive; and he could verify his conclusions by driving another straight ball or two. This done, he was to count the number of matches or wires left standing, to replace the ball in exactly the same place, and to play a pull. If he would come to me and tell me that under these conditions he could play a pull without knocking down more of his pegs than he had carried away in his straight drive I told him that I would give him twenty-five dollars for his trouble.
Duncan went into the matter of the pull and then he came to me and said that I was right. He made no attempt to collect that twenty-five dollars and I never asked him about his experiments. I do not know to this day what he did to satisfy himself ; but I used diagrammatic photographs of him in Modern Golf showing that the pull is played as I say it is, and not as the books of the most famous authors describe it-for that is an impossibility; and we have James Braid's word for it, if corroboration of mine were wanting, for a fact that seems fairly plain, that one must not try to do anything to the ball during impact.
There is a very persistent idea with many golfers that the correct way to play the pull is to cock up the toe of the club, turn it in towards the hole a little, and then play the stroke in the ordinary way. This means, of course, that the player is relying for that spin, which is the essence of the pull, on the action of the obliquely placed face being driven down the straight line.
Some small amount of spin no doubt would ensue. Personally I do not believe that the players who address the ball in this uncanny manner get the pull in the manner they think they do, and I am prepared to give my reasons for this.
If the face of the club is turned over with the toe forward, and the drive then played in the usual way, I am sure that so far from starting the pull as a pull, it would go for what is called a pull in cricket - that is, a ball that is hit across the wicket, or, in golf, across the line of flight. I do not deny that a certain amount of spin may be got in this manner, but I do not think that enough of it can be got to make the stroke worthy of comparison with the true pull as explained by me.
It is not surprising that this idea should have such a strong hold. Some of the most eminent men have delivered lectures or written papers, which rank in the history of the game, wherein their assumption has been that the spin of a golf ball is obtained in a manner almost if not exactly similar, from a mechanical point of view, to that advanced as being the method of production in the pull.
The main difference between their contention and that of those who think the pull is got this way is that they believe the beneficial backspin in golf is obtained by the lofted face of the club passing swiftly across the intended line of flight of the golf ball in the same plane as such intended line of flight, as for instance in the push stroke, whereas the pullers are merely, in effect, applying the same theory, but are endeavoring to tilt the plane of the ball's flight over, so that the "loft" would exert its influence mainly sidewise and not, as usual, vertically. The idea has arisen in each case, I believe, from a misconception that is fundamental, namely from an error as to the one and only function of "loft" in a golf club, which, as its name, "loft" or "lift" implies, is to get the ball up into the air. The other things have to be done by the player.
If this idea were sound I should have constructed and placed on the market special clubs called pullers, slicers and pushers with which one could play the same shot with three different clubs and yet produce the three widely different strokes named.
This really is not such a wild idea as it may seem. At one time I really had thought of it. If this method of cocking up the toe and turning the face over really is a good method of getting the pull why should one not experiment and get a club made so that when it is soled it is set just exactly right for the stroke. I think this club would sell- if it would do the work!
The idea of making the clubs as much alike as possible in weight, length, grip and every other way is good and will no doubt be carried much further in the future than it is now. Some years ago, when I had more time to spare than I have now, I made some experiments with a cleek. By taking the same cleek and putting the weight mainly at the bottom and then nearer up to the middle and finally a little higher one gets with exactly the same stroke three entirely different results. This is true in many important points of all clubs, and probably nobody would venture to deny the advisability of making the club do as much as possible in a game where the call for mechanical accuracy is so insistent as it is in golf.
Curiously enough, exactly the same delusion about the right method of obtaining top-spin exists in tennis as there is about obtaining the modified top-spin of the pull in golf. Numerous writers advise the player to wait until he feels the ball on the racket and then to whip his wrist up, thus giving a roll to the ball. Others again, amongst them an ex-champion of the United States, advises players at the moment to impact to have the face of the racket overhanging the ball-that is, with the top side of the frame nearer the net than the bottom. It is to me amazing that such manifest errors are allowed to go forth associated with names that do undoubtedly carry weight. What would be
Stance and Address in Driving.
Top of Swing in the Drive.
thought of me if I suggested altering the loft of a driver into an overhang! Well, tennis has not a special set of mechanical laws for itself and if the ball is below the height of the net, whether it is in the air as a tennis ball, or on the ground as a golf ball, there is only one thing that will lift it to the place to which one desires it to go and that is loft. If it is not provided on the striking implement the player, as in tennis, must provide it or the ball refuses to go up. No overhang, in golf or tennis, can be of service in getting the ball up. There may possibly be a chance of taking a theoretical objection to this statement. Were the ball just a few inches below the tape a stroke with a vertical racket might, on account of the adhesion, carry it up so that it would go over, but even here we should have to admit lift, if not loft.