We now come to the brassey. This is substantially the same as the driver, excepting that it is a trifle heavier and more laid back, and has a brass plate affixed to the sole.
Usually, also, the shaft is a shade stiffer There are good reasons for these slight differences. On a hole where distance is necessary this is the club usually employed after the tee shot with the driver, and you are called upon to play the ball as it lies. If it is practically teed up the driver is the best club to use. More frequently, however, it is not teed up, and often is lying very indifferently. To get it up the face of the brassey is usually laid back a little more than the driver, and it is preferably a trifle heavier than the latter, and with a somewhat stiffer shaft, so as to cut through any obstructions after the ball is hit. To aid in playing the ball out of a cuppy lie the face is all the better for being smaller than the driver, and the sole should also be more or less convex, to suit the taste of the user. A small head with a convex sole will fit into a poor lie much better than one with a longer face and a flat sole.
For all round play a narrower face is better, assisting, as it does, in getting the ball up better. With the ball as it is ordinarily found after the tee shot there is little danger of getting too much under it, without sclaffing, and the narrow face comes in very useful. The deeper the face is the greater is the tendency to drive a low ball. A certain reasonable depth is all the better in a driver where the ball is usually played off a tee, but the conditions are not exactly the same where a brassey is called into requisition.
The deeper the face of the brassey the more it requires to be laid back or lofted. Most brassies are made with the face both too deep and too long - the unnecessary wealth of wood being an absolute detriment instead of an assistance.
The brass plate should not be too thick. The fact that the club is so protected at the sole is of some sentimental value, and the player is imbued with the feeling that he can bang it into the ball freely without any fear of harming the club, whereas with the driver he would be somewhat inclined to ease up on the stroke lest he should perchance strike some unseen pebble or other underlying obstruction.
The screws which hold the plate sometimes work loose. This trouble may easily be remedied by putting glue in the holes before inserting the screws.
The cleek is used where the distance from the hole is between a full brassey shot and a full iron, or when the ball is lying badly and Shafts as great a distance as can be secured is necessary, and when the nature of the lie hardly admits of the brassey being used. The shaft should be fairly stiff, and the head only moderately laid back for general purposes. The blade should not be too long, and it should err on the side of being narrow in depth rather than otherwise. It is all the better, as well, to be short in the socket. The greater amount of weight in the blade should incline towards the sole.
The mid-iron is usually employed when the stroke to be played is neither a cleek shot nor a full mashie. It is also frequently used for running - up approaches instead of pitching with the mashie. It is more laid back than the cleek and more heavily weighted towards the sole, with the result that the ball is more lofted and has less run. The face is all the better for being a trifle longer and deeper than the cleek.
Next in order comes the mashie. This, I consider, should be fairly heavy - much heavier, proportionately, than the other clubs. The really best way of approaching with this club demands, ordinarily, that a certain amount of turf should be taken after the ball is hit. Very frequently, indeed, it happens that a good deal of turf has to be taken, by reason of a poor lie, with a trifle sometimes, before the ball is reached. On this account a fairly heavy head is a desideratum, as a light one would be the more inclined to be diverted in its course from contact with the ground. The blade is better for being deep and short in the face. By the greater depth more latitude for error is permitted in playing out of a deep, grassy lie, where inaccurate hitting would result in getting too much under the ball, while the short face enables the head to better deal with a poor lie. The pattern known as the Taylor model possesses, probably, the best all-round merits.
The mashie is usually laid back a trifle more than the iron, and, as a sequence, the ball is pitched much higher, with relatively less run. It is not advisable to have too much loft on the face, as this calls for a more delicate nicety of hitting. The shaft is not so long as the iron, which, in turn, is generally a trifle shorter than the cleek. And it is all the better for being stiff. Avoid, above all things, a whippy shaft on a mashie, or, for that matter, on any iron club. The only object of a whippy shaft is to secure a somewhat longer ball.
There is no excuse for such on a mashie. If distance is desired use an iron, when the shot is one that demands a longer ball than can be comfortably played with the weaker club.
Touching putters, their name is legion. We have the wooden putter with a long, straight face, and putters made of various metals, of all conceivable shapes and sizes and degrees of loft, some even with an inverse loft, that is, with the face hanging in towards the ball. They all have merit, in some degree, as is evidenced by the good work accomplished in the hands of different players. Sentiment counts for a great deal. Let a man take a fancy to any one of the various kinds on the market - that's the putter for him. It's a very good thing to have decided views regarding the style of putter you feel will suit you. Sad and unfortunate, however, will be the lot of the beginner who does not know what he wants, and who first leans to a gooseneck because A uses one, only to be captivated, although distrustfully, with a straight-faced club because B has one, to be hesitatingly rejected in favor of a putting cleek for a similar reason, and who winds up, generally in sheer desperation, with some new idea that is sup posed to embody all the good qualities of all three, but which is found after a little while to perform all sorts of vagaries, due, almost entirely, to the player's lack of confidence in the club - and himself. The better plan, really, is to take out three or four different kinds of weapons and ascertain in a practical way, by experimenting, which accomplishes the best work. It will simmer down to one or two. If one only, so much the better; stick to that club and don't change it. If the choice resolves itself into two, get both, and continue to use them alternately until you are satisfied which is the better under all sorts of conditions. You may possibly find that one is better adapted for keener greens, while the other is more suitable for rougher and slower greens. In such case it is not a bad plan to make a practice of carrying both, so that if you should happen to go off with the one you have the other to fall back upon. On the whole, however, it is much better to pin your faith to a single putter and to change the character of the stroke to suit the varying conditions of the greens.
As a general principle it may be stated that a putting-cleek is the more useful on a very keen green, while the straight-faced putter is perhaps better on a slower one. The more loft there is on the face the harder may the ball be hit, in comparison with one which is straight-faced.
The shaft should be stiff, otherwise the slightest degree of extra strength applied to the stroke will cause the ball to go careering away past the hole. And it is the better for being comparatively short. The lie of the head, to adapt itself to a short shaft, should be more upright.
I have treated severally of the driver, brassey, cleek, mid-iron, mashie, and putter, which have been referred to as necessary for the proper playing of the game. Quite frequently, however, good players carry one or two additional clubs as a regular part of their equipment, so as to bridge over the shades of difference existing between a brassey and a cleek, a cleek and an iron, and an iron and a mashie; thus making the playing of such hybrid strokes more easy of accomplishment. Very often shots of this kind are met with. You may be just that distance away from the hole that a full stroke with a brassey would carry you beyond, while a full cleek would be a bit short. Now in order to get the exact distance desired you have either to let up a trifle with the one club or let into it a little more - press, in short - with the other. The thing can be done, of course, but there is always an attendant risk of failure. To meet such exigencies a spoon is used. This is simply a brassey with the face laid back more than usual, and with the shaft a little shorter.
Likewise there is a niche between the iron and the mashie, especially where you are called upon to carry a hazard close up to the green and with some possible trouble beyond. To negotiate such a shot successfully it is necessary either to put cut on the ball if an iron is used, or to play a full mashie shot without sparing it. This is just where the jigger fits in nicely. The head is a cross between the iron and the mashie. The blade is not quite so long as the iron, is narrower, and more laid back in the face, and is weighted more towards the sole. The shot off it is principally all carry.
Excepting the driver, the mashie, and the putter, I consider that every other club should be played at about its maximum value, by means of an easy, full shot, without any attempt at forcing the stroke on the one hand or sparing it on the other. The necessary gradations of distance with each particular club, however, may very easily be controlled by the extent to which it is taken back - not by seeking to accelerate or diminish the speed of the stroke. In other words, I believe in dispensing, so far as possible, with three - quarter shots or half shots, excepting with the mashie.
In addition to the several clubs mentioned, a driving-iron, or driving - mashie, or mashie-cleek, will be found very useful, especially for tee shots, or playing through the green against a strong head wind.
It would hardly be proper to conclude this chapter without reference to the niblick, although most good players rarely carry one, except in an important match, using a mashie instead. There is no doubt, however, that for getting out of bunkers or trouble of any serious kind the niblick is unquestionably the better club. It should be heavy and the shaft stiff.
Apropos of iron clubs generally, it is not a bad plan, if the shaft shrinks and gets loose in the hose or socket, or when putting in a new shaft, to glue it in. You will rarely, then, be troubled with loose heads, and the risk of breakage will also be minimized.