In the upward swing it will be noticed that the body has been turned very freely, with the natural transferrence of weight almost entirely to the right foot, and that the left foot has been pulled up and around on the toe. Without such aid the downward stroke would be lacking in pith. To get the shoulders into the stroke they must first come around, in conjunction with the lower part of one's anatomy, smoothly and freely revolving on an axis which may be represented by an imaginary line drawn from the head straight down the back. Otherwise the arms alone, unassisted to any appreciable extent, are called upon to do the work, with material loss of distance.
Another point may be observed: The club head has only a very slight dip from the horizontal at the top of the swing. This, comthe Long Game bined with the free turn of the body, indicates a pretty firm grip with both hands, with a sense of command over the club.
In the other illustration the position is almost exactly reversed, the right foot rising on the toe, due to the weight of the body being thrown by the swing on to the left, and the club finishing over the left shoulder.
As a general thing the majority of players fail to properly utilize the weight of the body and drive mainly with the arms only, and they also take the club too far back in the upward swing. Another very common fault is falling back immediately after striking the ball.
Every golfing stroke describes a circle, or a segment of a circle. With a long shaft the periphery is of course larger than with a short one, and flatter. In other words, with a long shaft the club head is not moving so long in the proposed direction of the flight of the ball as it is with a short shaft. This would not be the case if the centre of the circle could be raised in proportion to its circumference, but the axis of the circle, represented by the player, remains the same in all cases. The paramount reason, if not indeed the only one, for Harry Vardon's consistent accuthe Body-turn racy of direction is due, in the present writer's opinion, to his using short shafts, and by standing pretty erect to the ball. The axis of the swing is in a more perpendicular plane to the ball, with the inevitable result that the club head is moving longer in the line of play. This insures the ball being struck more accurately in the centre, and, what is of equal importance, of the club going through the ball straighter. The movement of the arms is naturally out and towards the hole, while with a long club more or less of an effort is required to let the arms go forward instead of obeying their natural inclination to turn around to the left.
If neither the ball nor the club head possessed resiliency it would matter little what became of the club after the ball were hit true. The point of contact is very small, hardly any larger than a pin head, yet every player must frequently have noticed the imprint of the ball on the head after a vigorous stroke, sometimes as large as, if not larger than, a silver quarter. This flattening of the ball furnishes proof that it is in actual contact with the club for a fraction of time after being struck, and during that time is of course travelling in the same direction as the head - probably for an inch or so. Consequently it becomes a matter of importance what becomes of the club head just after the moment of impact, when ball and head are practically one. During this crucial part of the stroke the head should be at right angles to the line of play. This is the essence of the follow-through, and it is probably due to a practical recognition of this principle and by the simple means employed that Vardon's play is so uniformly straight, using, as he does, very short clubs. I am not sure also that his peculiar grip does not lend to accuracy, as by putting the thumbs down the shaft and overlapping the forefinger of the left hand with the little finger of the right hand, it is practically impossible for the club to turn in the hands in the upward or downward swing, and therefore it must revert to its original position, as in the address. Var-don himself avers that he can drive a longer ball with what may be termed the orthodox grip, but at the sacrifice of accuracy, and I find no reason to doubt this. I know of a number of good players who have adopted this Vardon grip, and who assert that their direction has been wonderfully improved. Vardon, however, has been endowed by nature with very large hands, and, using comparatively thin grips - which, by-the-way, cannot be too strongly recommended - he is obliged to get rid of his fingers in some way, hence perhaps the particular style adopted. He also possesses unusually strong wrists, which, combined with the fact that he "hits so blamed hard," ac counts for the distance obtained.
Unless the ordinary player is gifted with such advantages - i.e., big hands and strong wrists - he probably will get better general results by gripping in the regulation manner and by using shorter clubs.
It may have been noticed that Vardon's long shots are principally all carry. This is partly attributable to the upright swing. The enormous distance obtained, however, is such that he can well afford to do without the roll which follows from using longer clubs and playing with a flatter swing. The longer the club, however, as already pointed out, the greater is the liability to slice or pull.
It will be noticed in the foregoing illustration that in the finish of the stroke the hands are pretty well over the left shoulder. The natural tendency of such is to induce more or less of a pull. It may be laid down as an axiom that the farther the arms are carried around to left, between the neck and shoulder, the greater is the pull when the ball is played from a point nearer to the right foot, and the greater is the slice when the ball is nearer to the left foot. The operating causes have already been explained.
Unless against an adverse cross-wind, the writer generally plays with the deliberate intention of getting a touch of pull. Such a ball has great running powers, and, being usually comparatively low, is exceedingly effective against the wind. Occasionally, however, the pull fails to materialize, but no great harm results unless too much allowance has been made for the hook. The finish of the stroke, so far as the position of the hands is concerned, is largely governed by the line of retraction.