Fig. 10 Don't Press
It is not given to every one to drive a very long ball. The unusually long players possess certain physical advantages which are denied to ordinary mankind in a degree. Some naturally are gifted with abnormal wrist power or strength of arms or a very rapid swing, either singly or collectively. All of these qualities may be developed to a certain extent by less favored mortals. Occasionally, by a happy conjunction of all the elements that constitute the perfect stroke, an unusually long ball may be driven, but there is a natural average limit to every man's long game, and a full recognition of this fact would save many a wasted stroke.
Reverting to the question of keeping the eye on the ball, or, in other words, of keeping the head still, countless are the strokes imperfectly made through looking up a fraction of a second before the ball is properly struck. This diversion of the eyes from the ball causes the head to move, and with it the arms, and the chances of clean hitting are materially lessened. After the ball is struck no power exerted by the eyes can exercise the slightest influence on the ball. To insure the stroke being properly made it is not a bad plan to keep the eyes fastened on the spot where the ball was before the stroke was completed.
In the upward swing do not allow the club to go so far back as to lose command of it. It is not really the length alone of the backward swing that contributes distance so much as the rapidity with which the club head is moving at and just after the moment of impact. Very many players are enabled to secure the desired velocity with a comparatively short swing and get almost as long a ball and generally a straighter one than the devotee of a full swing.
Timing the stroke properly is of vast importance. Usually the player is in too much of a hurry to get the ball away, and hits too soon. Let him resolve to centralize the power of the stroke immediately the ball is reached, and carry it through the ball, and a gratifying increase of distance will be manifested and a sweeter feeling communicated.
Do not ease up as soon as the ball is struck; by all means keep up steam until the arms are well away on their upward journey. A great deal more depends upon the maintenance of speed after the ball is struck than is commonly supposed. This part of the stroke is known as the follow-through, and plays a very important part in the length of the drive, as well as in straightness.
All which has been said concerning the driving stroke may be largely practised indoors, without a ball. The only objection is that the player cannot see himself, and unless he is under the eyes of a competent instructor, is very apt to drift into faulty methods of execution. Such solitary practice, therefore, is not advisable to any great extent.
So far, the component parts of the swing have been analyzed without detailed reference to the position of the player to the ball. This has a very marked and varying influence on the stroke, and is deserving of a few words. Broadly speaking, the nearer the ball is to the left foot the higher it will be driven, and with a greater tendency to be sliced than if placed nearer to the right foot, the latter position being more provocative of a lower trajectory and a pull. The leading cause of a high ball being driven is attributable to the fact that the position assumed is such that the club is just on the eve of its upward journey, and the face consequently is slightly turned back, towards the player.
Fig. 11 Top Of Swing
Fig. 12 Finish Of Drive The Swing
The tendency to slice is due partly to the restricted area left for the club to go through the ball, making it more difficult to follow on properly, and also in a measure to the ball being hit slightly to the right of its centre. Either of these causes alone will produce a slice. Striking the ball to the right of its centre will impart a rotary movement from left to right. Being struck to the right, the ball will naturally start off to the left of a straight line, and as the energy of the forward stroke diminishes, the power of the spin will assert itself and cause the ball to describe a curve to the right. With a pulled ball it is just the opposite- the ball is hit to the left of its centre, i. e., nearer the player, producing a spin from right to left. When the ball is placed nearer to the right foot the point of contact with the club in the ordinary swing is brought nearer to the player. With the ball placed about midway between the two positions mentioned the club will meet it exactly in the centre, and a rotary movement in a straight line is imslicing, and Pulling parted, and given that the head is allowed to go straight through the ball, no slice or pull can result. If, however, the ball is hit dead in the centre, and the arms be drawn in at the moment of impact, a slight slice will ensue, as a modified spin from left to right will be given the ball.
Apart from these causes slicing or pulling may follow from the ball being hit in the centre, but with an inclination towards the heel or toe of the club. If hit on the heel the weight of lead behind the point of impact leans to the right, and a slice is invited, while the reverse is true in favor of a pull if the ball be hit on the toe of the club. At the same time it may readily be understood from the foregoing that it is possible to slice with toeing and pull with heeling, although this is not commonly done. A slice pure and simple invariably describes a curve from left to right, the curvature being governed by the amount of spin. A pull is just the reverse. Neither must be confounded with a clean-hit, straight-flying ball which is off the line, to the right or the left, from start to finish.
Such error in direction is usually due to a faulty stance - to the player being turned away from the hole to the right or around too much to the left. Yet very many players misapprehensively speak of such strokes as being sliced or pulled. A true conception of the governing cause would go a great way towards correcting the trouble. The illustrations (Figs. II and I?) show the top of the swing and finish of the stroke, respectively.