Address For Mashie Shot 60-80 Yards
F ig. 20 Top Of Swing
Finish Of Swing Approaching
An exceedingly dead ball may also be played by standing well back, laying the club almost flat, and cutting clear under the ball. The stroke is comparatively easy if the ball is lying well, but not otherwise. In this stroke the club head is well in advance of the hands. It may be well to remark here that in all strokes, of every description, a high ball with comparatively little run follows when the club is in advance of the hands, and, inversely, a ball with a lower trajectory and more compensating run results when the hands are in advance of the ball. A full recognition and practical application of this principle would go a great way towards simplifying the problem of making the ball fall dead or of imparting additional run, as may be desired.
Going with the wind, and playing a mashie shot where it is necessary to pitch right on to the green, and make the ball stay there, it is absolutely essential to put a decided cut on the ball. As already explained, this cut stroke is made largely by hitting across the ball. In addition to the retarding effect on the run produced by the spin thus given, the stroke may more easily be accomplished by letting the club reach the ball before the hands are in the same vertical plane. In other words, stand with the ball pretty well in front of you.
Playing dead against the wind the same methods may be employed, but as practically no run at all follows, the ball must be hit much harder, and may safely be played close up to or even beyond the hole. It is perhaps safer, however, to play without any decided cut under such circumstances, but rather in the way suggested for a shot of eighty to one hundred yards, regulating the strength according to the distance.
So far I have dealt entirely with the mashie in approaching. I do not intend by this to suggest that this particular club only should be used. In point of fact, I rarely play with a mashie unless there is a bunker or rough ground intervening. When the nature of the ground permits, I consider it safer and easier to run up, either with a cleek, iron, or putter, with more or less cut according to the unevenness of the ground. With a straighter-faced club it is much simpler to determine the strength required, and much easier to be sure of hitting the ball cleanly than with a more lofted one. The more the club is lofted or the face laid back the greater is the accuracy required. The more simply the approach shot can be played the better, as there is greater latitude for error than in using any of the heavily lofted clubs.
In the running - up stroke it makes comparatively little difference if you should happen to get a little too much down to the ball, or half-top it, whereas with the lofted approach, and with the same measure of strength applied, getting too much under means being away short, while a topped mashie is generally far over the hole. Then, again, with the mashie, the ball may possibly pitch on a hard and bare spot, or on sand, or it may strike some irregularity of surface, and so completely upset the finest calculations. It must also be borne in mind that while in the air the ball is more at the mercy of the wind, while if kept closer to the ground the wind exercises very much less influence. At the same time no one can rank as a firstclass golfer who is not a master of the lofted approach shot in all its moods and tenses. There is no department of the game which calls for such a high degree of skill and the exercise of such sound judgment as approaching. Here strength and direction must be supplemented with a measure of delicacy and fine discrimination such as are not called for in any other department of the game, unless, indeed, we include the approach putt, which is really an offshoot of the approach proper, and is usually made under more advantageous circumstances.
The man who can be reasonably sure of laying his ball, not only on the green, but within comparatively easy putting distance of the hole time and again, manifestly has a great advantage over a less skilful player, everything else being about even. A single putt saved here and there is a material gain. The object of the game is to get the ball into a very small hole in the fewest possible number of strokes. To do this, on a first-class course, it is of course essential that the successful golfer should play a well-rounded game. He must drive well, approach well, and putt well. He can never hope to occupy the premier position if he is weak in any one of the three departments. Extraordinarily long driving, for instance, does not compensate for poor approaching or poor putting. It is much better to be an adept at putting than at driving. If a man drives fairly well, say from one hundred and seventy to one hundred and ninety yards, and approaches and putts with consistent accuracy, he is much better off than the player who gets one hundred and eighty to two hundred yards from the tee, and then shows weakness in approaching or putting. The good approacher, provided he putts fairly well, saves many a stroke by laying his ball so close to the hole that he goes down in one on the next, when the other player takes two - and sometimes more.
A Well-rounded Game
Fig. 22 Address For A Bad Lie
Pig. 23 Top Of Stroke
Fig. 24 Finish Of Stroke Approaching
The method of approaching so far treated is what is commonly known as the bent-arm stroke - that is to say, the arms are not kept taut or stiff, but are allowed to bend at the elbows, and to turn more or less from the wrists. At the same time the club is grasped firmly with both hands. If anything, the right hand and arm contribute a shade more power than the left. The stroke partakes more of the character of a hit than a swing, as exemplified in the drive - a sharp, snappy hit, entirely free, however, from jerk.
There is another way of making approach shots which is very effective. In this the arms are kept stiff, and the wrists are scarcely turned at all. There is more of a swing than a hit in the stroke, and the shoulders are brought more or less into play. The ball may be kept on a very true line by this method, but it will have a lower trajectory and greater run. It is useful on a windy day, or when the nature of the ground admits more of a running - up approach. For all- round purposes, however, it does not possess the full share of merits of the other style already dealt with.
It is comparatively easy to play an approach shot from a good lie, as then one may give the larger share of his attention to the necessary strength, being reasonably sure of hitting the ball clean. It frequently happens, however, that the ball may be lying badly, and greater nicety is then required to get it away. Let us take a ball lying in a cup with a tuft of grass behind- the ordinary type of poor lie, or even in a wagon rut - and with a bunker, say forty or fifty yards away, guarding the green. The stiff - arm stroke here is useless. Even the other style mentioned has to be slightly modified. Grasp the club very firmly in both hands, stand with the feet farther apart than usual, with the ball nearer to the right loot; take the club up straighter, more perpendicularly, and bring it down sharply into the ground straight behind the ball. The sole of the club will have to cleave the ground a trifle before the face reaches the ball in order to get it up properly, and it will then go through into the ground immediately underneath the spot where the ball was lying. Don't try to get the ball up; the lofted face of the club will do that; rather go to the other extreme, and make up your mind you are going to drive it into the bowels of the earth. It is astonishing how far a ball can be shot out of what looks like an impossible lie by these means. The great thing to remember is that the club will do the work if you give it a fair chance. Don't turn the face in, and don't take your eye off the point of aim just behind the ball, until the club has sunk well into the ground; and don't be afraid to hit on account of the slight jar to the wrists which follows the impact.
When the club has gone well into the ground, giving it plenty of time, then you may flex the wrists slightly, to lessen the shock and direct the passage of the club towards the hole and further assist in getting the ball up. Of course the execution of a stroke of this kind will dig up a blanket of turf, and will carry with it the unpleasant suggestion that you must inevitably smash the shaft of the club into flinders. But if you have faith in the resiliency of hickory it will be of material aid in executing the stroke properly, and your shaft, if a good one, will be none the worse. One more piece of counsel - take as little turf as possible before striking the ball itself.