Assuming that the approach stroke has been properly executed, the ball should now be on the green, not so far from the hole as to render it at all uncertain about going down in two more- and very frequently in one. But alas for human frailty! It is quite possible even with the best players that the ball is occasionally either short of or possibly over the green proper, with some indifferently rough ground to be negotiated before the putter may ordinarily be used with safety or precision. Where the intervening space is covered with fairly long grass a mashie or an iron is really necessary, but if there should be no long grass other than the ordinary fair green, free from any bunkers, a running - up approach may safely be played with the putter. It is imperative, however, to bear in mind that the stroke should be different in kind from the ordinary putt. You should aim to hit the ball as if it were your intention to drive it into the ground; stand rather more than usual in front, and strike the ball with the face of the club slightly turned in. This will cause the ball to jump, due to its contact with the ground immediately after being struck, but it will keep a wonderfully straight line, despite irregularities of surface, and will usually be found nearer the hole than if a more lofted club were used. A stroke of this kind may be played even fifty or sixty yards from the hole, and with far more certainty of result than if a mashie had been used. With the ordinary putter, more or less straight-faced, it is much easier to hit the ball truly and to regulate the desired strength than with any of its more lofted brethren. Nor does it make so much difference if the ball be lying badly, since you do not desire to get it up. With a comparatively straight-faced club it matters very little, in a stroke of this kind, whether the ball is struck above or below the centre of the club, but it makes a world of difference if such liberties are taken with a mashie, the greater angle of the face of the latter not allowing such a wide margin for error.
Another way of playing the stroke, in simiputting lar circumstances, is to stand with the ball well in front of you - still using the putter -the club head rather in advance of the hands and the face slightly turned outward, to the right, and put cut on the ball by drawing the arms in a trifle just at the moment of striking. This will cause the ball to rise slightly immediately after being struck. Such a stroke is useful where some roughish ground has to be traversed just in front of the ball, or when it happens to be either teed up or lying in short, soft grass.
The simpler the means employed to get the ball into the hole the better. It is much easier, and less fraught with danger or risk of failure, to run a ball up than to pitch it. If pitching were easier, why not putt with a mashie? Never use a mashie or any heavily lofted iron when the necessity for pitching does not really exist. It requires a certain fine discrimination, however, to know, the moment you get up to your ball, just what kind of a stroke should be played, and the proper club to play it with. Don't allow yourself to get into the way of hesitating or questioning whether you should take a mashie on an iron or a putter. Make up your mind at once, and stick to it. Another thing is worth remembering in connection with the short game, and that is not to allow yourself to dwell upon the strength of the next stroke while walking up to your ball. Wait until you get to it before making any calculations of this kind. And let me again and again urge you not to be in any hurry to look up after you have made the stroke. To my mind there are two rocks upon which the large majority of players split, two things we all do, more or less, and which are provocative of poorly executed strokes: one is looking up too soon, especially in the short game, and the other hitting too soon, particularly in the long game.
Now that we have managed, more or less successfully, to get on the green, the serious business of getting the ball into the hole in one or two strokes presents itself. And mighty serious business it is too. Putting, that is consistently good putting, is perhaps the most difficult part of the game, with the possible exception of really first - class approach work. Driving is largely mechanical, the one essential being to keep fairly straight. In that department of the game you are never troubled about going too far, or if any possible doubt exists on this score you may easily remove it by using a weaker club. The approach is somewhat more complex, for here accuracy and strength are the elements. Even this part may be largely simplified by using a cleek, iron, mashie, or putter, each having a certain fairly well-defined capacity in respect to distance.
But putting calls for the highest degree of skill and the nicest kind of judgment both as regards accuracy and strength. By accuracy is meant the passage of the ball over an imaginary line between it and the hole. You may possibly be able to keep your ball along this line, but if it is hit too hard it will probably jump the cup, while if the necessary strength is lacking it certainly cannot go in. It all seems easy enough, especially to the man who has never tried it, and who is not saddled with recollections of innumerable misses in the past, sins of commission and of omission. Which leads me to remark that one of the prime requisites to good putting is an abounding confidence in one's ability to lay the ball dead when several yards away, or positively run it down when within reasonable holing-out distance.
Let us examine into the character of the stroke in reference to accuracy more particularly, dismissing, for the time being, the question of strength. If one can succeed in getting the ball to run true, more than half of the terrors of putting are gotten rid of at the outset, and the mind may then be concentrated on the important matter of strength.