Both in the drive with top-spin in tennis and in the pull in golf the turnover of the right wrist has nothing whatever to do with the production of the stroke. That comes in the follow-through, after the ball has gone on its way, if one has played the stroke correctly. An enormous number of returns are foundered, put into the net or in many cases on to the court before the net is reached, because players think that this turnover of the right wrist comes in at the moment of impact, and consequently they get it in much too soon. This is a fine illustration of the fact that one must not attempt to do anything whatever to the ball during impact either in golf or tennis. What happens then-I cannot say it too often-is merely an incident of the stroke itself.
It is worthy of mention that in Advanced Golf James Braid shows by photographs the actual moment of impact in the pull. There is no sign whatever of any turn over of the face of the club in this picture, nor does Braid in Advanced Golf make this statement about the turn-over, although he did in an earlier work. I should think that we ought to be able to take this as Braid's considered opinion; for the photograph is obviously posed, and Braid would have been sure to show such an important matter as this turn-over distinctly and to comment on it. On the contrary, we find him showing that the club returns to the ball naturally as in the ordinary address for the pull; from which it is evident that Braid now is satisfied that he gets his fine low ball by swinging out across the line of flight-as indeed nobody who has stood behind him and seen him play it could doubt.
There has at various times been much argument as to the difference in the flight and run of the pull and the slice. We shall have occasion probably to consider this matter again in dealing with the flight of the ball. It seems proper however here to explain the peculiar characteristics of the flight and run of the pull.
As we have seen the pull is produced by an upward, outward, glancing blow. The ball goes away spinning on an axis which lies over with its top end nearer to the player than the bottom. I must make this as clear as I possibly can so I must risk being precise here. Let us suppose that you have just succeeded in playing a perfect pull. Now suppose that I am capable of arresting the flight of that ball, without interrupting its spin and that I get you again to take up your stance and address and replace the ball as it was before you hit it. You know as well as I do that it would spin for a very little while and then subside, but before it does this I want you to allow me to exercise my powers of imagination or necromancy by changing the spinning ball into a boy's peg-top still spinning.
I shall now show you the angle at which that top is spinning by placing it where the ball was. This is the instant you have to consider. You have no concern beyond that, for things would change in a way that does not come into golf. You have however, seen the top placed down in front of your club and at that instant what is happening is this. The top is spinning in such a way that the peg is further from you than the head. The head is lying inwards towards you in such a way that if the peg ran right through it it would cross the place of impact on the face of the club at an angle of, roughly say, fifty degrees.
You will thus see, when you reconvert the top into a golf ball, and send it careering on its way that the right side is the forward-spinning side and that the ball is spinning about an axis, which gives it a spin that is not really top spin, but is yet very near to it; in fact, a spin which may justly be called modified top spin. As we saw in the case of the slice the forward-spinning side gets most of the friction. In the pull this is the right side, therefore the ball is gradually edged over towards the left side. The angle of the axis of rotation in the pull is probably greater than I have stated. Were this not so there seems to be a great probability that this fine ball would yield to the seductive influence of gravitation more speedily than it does.
Top spin has no place in golf. It is quite useless in this game. The nearest we get to it is in the pull. Ordinary top spin, as many of us know to our cost, simply means a vicious duck and some run, but it is useless. In the modified top spin of the pull we see however considerable benefit. When the ball lands the spin is still working; and on account of the angle of the axis of spin, which lies right across the plane of flight, the ball runs well until the power of both the stroke and the spin, which in this stroke cooperate, is exhausted.
The simplest explanation that I can give of the plane of spin of the pulled ball on landing and of its run is furnished by one of the old chameleon tops or any similar disc top. Every one has seen such a top at the end of its spin wabbling about until the outer rim touches whatever it is spinning on. Then it grips the floor or table and runs away across it. That is why the pulled ball in golf runs so well, and if one takes the peg of any of these tops as representing the axis of spin of the pulled ball in the air one will have a very good idea of what is going on during the carry.
I always call the spin of the pull "modified top spin." I cannot get anything to express it better. It always seems to me that this is a ball with an admixture of top spin that does its ducking side-wise, but at the same time I am more than half inclined to think that at the beginning of the flight there is a good deal more cross spin than top spin. Probably, however, the axis of spin is altered slightly during the flight and almost certainly on impact the ball is thrown more into overspin than it was originally, for the lower end of the spinning axis is the first point to be arrested. This naturally throws the top end forward and more across the course, thus correcting to a certain extent the natural tendency of the ball to run off the fairway.