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The Soul Of Golf | by P. A. Vaile



It is frequently and emphatically asserted by reviewers of golf books that golf cannot be learned from a book. If they would add "in a room" they would be very near the truth - but not quite. It would be quite possible for an intelligent man with a special faculty for games, a good book on golf, and a properly equipped practising-room to start his golfing career with a game equal to a single figure handicap.

TitleThe Soul Of Golf
AuthorP. A. Vaile
PublisherMacmillan And Co.
Year1912
Copyright1912, Macmillan And Co.
AmazonThe soul of golf

By P. A. Vaile, Author Of ' Modern Golf,' 'modern Lawn Tennis,' 'swerve, Or The Flight Of The Ball,' Etc.

With Illustrations

To Philip Reginald Thornton My Co-Worker In Imperial Politics

The Soul Of GolfThe Soul Of Golf 2
-Preface
It is frequently and emphatically asserted by reviewers of golf books that golf cannot be learned from a book. If they would add in a room they would be very near the truth - but not quite. It would...
-Chapter I. The Soul Of Golf
NEARLY every one who writes about a game essays to prove that it is similar to the great game, the game of life. Golf has not escaped; and numberless scribes in endeavouring to account for the fasci...
-The Soul Of Golf. Part 2
Hordes of people are joining the ranks of the golfers, and their constant cry is, Teach me the swing, and after a lesson or two at the wrong end of golf, for a beginner, they go forth and cut the co...
-The Soul Of Golf. Part 3
When one writes of the soul of golf it sounds almost as though one were guilty of a little sentimentality. As a matter of fact, it is the most thorough practice which leads one to the soul of golf. Ma...
-The Soul Of Golf. Part 4
Another very widely worshipped fetich, which has been much damaged recently, is the sweep in driving a ball. Trying to sweep his ball away for two hundred yards has reduced many a promising player t...
-Chapter II. The Mystery Of Golf
There is no such thing as the mystery of golf. One might reasonably ask, If there is no such thing as 'the mystery of golf,' why devote a chapter to it? But the mystery of golf should really be ...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 2
As a matter of fact the golf stroke is in some respects a complicated stroke. Certain changes of position in the body and arms take place with extreme rapidity during the execution of the stroke. It i...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 3
It is for this reason that I am dealing in an early chapter with the alleged mystery of golf, for I want to make it particularly clear that in the vast majority of cases those who attempt to explain t...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 4
This again is another of the mysteries of golf, and a mystery purely of the inventive brain of the author. The drive in golf is played with such extreme rapidity that the duration of impact does not l...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 5
Now this is emphatic enough, but it should not be necessary to quote James Braid to impress upon any golfer of average intelligence that this idea of consciously increasing his speed gradually as he c...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 6
We can easily understand, then, that to those who are not so educated the printed word is much more authoritative. Therefore, even if the circulation of a book or a paper may be very little, it is alw...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 7
It will probably not be news to most of us that there is such a thing as a vacant stare. We probably remember many occasions when, lost in thought, our eyes have lost their convergence, but it wil...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 8
Of course this to the ordinary golfer is absolute nonsense, but to the skilled anatomist and student of psychology, who may also be a golfer, it is worse than nonsense, for the simple reason that assu...
-The Mystery Of Golf. Part 9
It will probably seem that I am dealing with this attempt to explain the mystery of golf very severely, but I do not feel that I am treating the matter too strictly. Golf is enveloped and encompassed ...
-Chapter III. Putting
THE great mystery to me, not about golf, but about the work of the greatest golfers, is the attitude which they all adopt with regard to putting. Now, putting may quite properly be said to be the foun...
-Putting. Part 2
Even many of the leading professionals are weak in this department of the game. Do you think they would not improve themselves in this particular stroke were such a thing within the range of possibili...
-Putting. Part 3
Nor is this difficult to do, for it stands to reason that anyone who is a beginner at golf has not already cultivated a style of his own. The statements of these three great golfers are absolutely wi...
-Putting. Part 4
So I may be allowed the privilege of indicating the path along which improvement in this department of the game may best be effected; and what I have to say at the beginning is, that putting is essent...
-Putting. Part 5
PLATE III. HARRY VARDON At the top of his swing, showing his weight mainly on the left leg. This characteristic is very marked in Vardon's play. It is obvious that in many cases the first impact w...
-Putting. Part 6
There is another point of outstanding importance. I have said that the head of the putter should form a right angle to the line of run to the hole. I shall be more emphatic still. Let us consider the ...
-Putting. Part 7
There is one good general rule for regulating the distance which one should stand from the ball in putting. When one addresses one's ball, one should be in such a position that the ball is right under...
-Putting. Part 8
This means that if the stymie is close to the hole and there is only a very short run after the ball has got over the obstacle, the player invariably finds that with his imperfectly constructed mashie...
-Putting. Part 9
This is quite an error, and is absolutely destructive of accuracy. As, in the cut put, the head of the club is travelling from outside the line across it, towards the player's side of the line at the ...
-Putting. Part 10
On page 56 he says: Now in both these cases, when the greens are very slow and when they are extremely fast, the best putter for them is one with very considerable loft on the face, and it will often...
-Putting. Part 11
At the time that I introduced this stroke there was much controversy about it, and it was claimed that it was not a new stroke, but that it was exactly the same as the stroke played by all golfers whe...
-Putting. Part 12
I am quite in accord with what James Braid says about this method of putting, and I do not for one moment think that the short grip should be used for approach puts, but I am sure the nearer one gets ...
-Putting. Part 13
There are one or two points in this statement which are of very great importance. Vardon says: For the application of cut turn the toe slightly outwards and away from the hole, and see that the face ...
-Putting. Part 14
Vardon does not mention the length of the put which he considers it possible to play with this cut, but in his diagram he shows a put which would conceivably be quite a long put, let us say for the sa...
-Chapter IV. The Fallacies Of Golf
The fallacies of golf, as it has been written, are so numerous and so grave that it would be impossible to deal with them fully in a chapter, so I must here content myself with dealing generally with ...
-The Fallacies Of Golf. Part 2
It should then be sufficiently obvious to anyone that so far as regards the stroke implying a sudden and sharp impact, the golf stroke, probably of all strokes played in athletics, is, at the moment...
-The Fallacies Of Golf. Part 3
Now here we see that Braid subscribes to the idea of the even acceleration of pace, but it will be remembered that in a previous chapter I (The Soul Of Golf) quoted him as saying that there must be ...
-The Fallacies Of Golf. Part 4
Here it will be seen clearly that Braid gives the idea that the player is, during the course of the downward swing, to exercise some conscious regulation of the increase of the speed of the head of th...
-The Fallacies Of Golf. Part 5
We have already dealt with the fallacy of the sweep. It is a curious thing that although the leading golfers and authors pin their faith to the sweep as being the correct explanation of the drive in g...
-The Fallacies Of Golf. Part 6
He had conceived the idea that a drive was only an exaggerated put, and he made up his mind that he would proceed to exaggerate his put by degrees until he had reached the limit of his drive, and had ...
-Chapter V. The Distribution Of Weight
The distribution of weight is of fundamental importance in the game of golf. If one has not a perfectly clear and correct conception of the manner in which one should manage one's weight, it is an abs...
-The Distribution Of Weight. Part 2
At page 88 of Golf in the Badminton Series, Mr. Horace G. Hutchinson says: Now as the club came to the horizontal behind the head, the body will have been allowed to turn, gently, with its weight upo...
-The Distribution Of Weight. Part 3
In Great Golfers, Harry Vardon says, speaking of his address and stance: I stand firmly, with the weight rather on the right leg. At page 50 of the same book he says, speaking of the top of the swin...
-The Distribution Of Weight. Part 4
I have referred in other places to the looseness of Mr. Haultain's descriptions in all matters of practical golf. At page 89 he confirms one's impression, if confirmation were required, that his idea ...
-The Distribution Of Weight. Part 5
It is curious to note in this connection that on page 53 of Great Golfers Harry Vardon says: Almost simultaneously with the impact, the right knee slightly bends in the direction of the hole, and all...
-The Distribution Of Weight. Part 6
Moreover, Braid himself clearly shows in his action photographs that such a statement as this is quite wrong. If we had any doubt at all about the matter, we might examine the photographs of Braid him...
-The Distribution Of Weight. Part 7
Here we have, at least, very important corroboration of the fact that one need not worry about the follow-through if the first portion of the stroke has been correctly played. Braid says that at the m...
-Chapter VI. The Power Of The Left
The fetich of the left is, amongst golfers, only second, if indeed it is second in its injurious nature, to the idea that the weight should be put on the right foot at the top of the swing. It is very...
-The Power Of The Left. Part 2
It will be apparent that it is utterly impossible for the arms and wrists to be tighter than they are when they are in their highest state of tension. Therefore, we must take it that James Braid's ...
-The Power Of The Left. Part 3
HARRY VARDON The finish of the drive - a little later than in Plate VI., showing the weight completely on the left foot. Of course, in the circumstances, it will be very hard indeed for us to follow ...
-The Power Of The Left. Part 4
Vardon puts the matter splendidly when he says: Personally, I grip quite as firmly with the right hand as with the other one. When the other way is adopted - the left hand being tight and the right h...
-The Power Of The Left. Part 5
Taylor, of course, uses the overlapping grip, which is to-day the orthodox grip. Taylor speaks here of those who, untrammelled by tradition, break away and hold the club differently, with one hand a...
-The Power Of The Left. Part 6
Not only is the proposed grip more solid and natural, and productive of greater power and accuracy than the present overlapping grip, but it unquestionably carries the main idea of the overlapping gri...
-Chapter VII. The Function Of The Eyes
One of the commonest of the many excuses advanced for missing one's drive is, I lifted my eye. If the player only knew it he could lift his eye with impunity. That is not what matters. It was liftin...
-The Function Of The Eyes. Part 2
This is the undoubted fact in so far as regards the work of the eye. It fulfils its duty very early in the stroke; but although the explanation of the function of the eye is so incorrectly given, stil...
-The Function Of The Eyes. Part 3
EDWARD RAY This plate shows the champion's tremendous finish in the drive. Ray, at the top of his stroke, gets much of his weight on his right foot, but does not advise others to do so. I have had so...
-The Function Of The Eyes. Part 4
Taylor continues: The arms must be thrown forward freely and naturally, and as a consequence the right shoulder must be allowed to swing forward too. This should effectually dispose of the idea of h...
-Chapter VIII. The Master Stroke
In his chapter on Special Strokes with Wooden Clubs Vardon discusses the question of the master stroke in golf. At page 86 of The Complete Golfer he says: Which, then, is the master stroke? I say t...
-The Master Stroke. Part 2
There is a wonderful amount of misconception about these strokes, even in the minds of the greatest golfers. Let me, before I proceed to examine what Harry Vardon has to say about the production of th...
-The Master Stroke. Part 3
We have here Vardon's description of how to obtain a pulled ball which he regards as one of the master strokes of the game, but his conception of this stroke is absolutely erroneous. We are told by Va...
-The Master Stroke. Part 4
In so flatly contradicting such a master of stroke play as Harry Vardon, it may be as well for me to fortify myself by evidence taken from the work and photographs of another famous golfer who was him...
-The Master Stroke. Part 5
The popular misconception about the slice is well instanced by what Harry Vardon has to say in connection with the cut mashie approach. He says at page 129 of The Complete Golfer: It is also most imp...
-The Master Stroke. Part 6
It is quite certain that even if one could hit the ball above the centre of its mass with a perpendicular face, it would be impossible to get the ball off the ground in this manner. The push shot with...
-The Master Stroke. Part 7
I showed clearly that an implement which was moving so fast as to absolutely beat the machine which was three times as fast as the machine which deceived the human being, was not likely to be able to ...
-Chapter IX. The Action Of The Wrists
THERE is no doubt that a proper wrist action in the drive is of very great importance, and it is just as undoubted that the real secret of wrist action has been enshrouded in mystery by anyone who has...
-The Action Of The Wrists. Part 2
Here it will be seen that in a work of James Braid which is entitled Advanced Golf, and which was published several years after Harry Vardon's Complete Golfer and by the same firm, we have advice and ...
-The Action Of The Wrists. Part 3
An unfortunate golfer who had tried to put these principles into execution came into my office one day, and told me that he could get no length whatever in his drive. I handed him a club and said: Le...
-The Action Of The Wrists. Part 4
Let me make this matter perfectly plain. We will consider that the beginner has taken his stance and addressed his ball perfectly. Let him now take his club back from the ball in the manner which the ...
-The Action Of The Wrists. Part 5
The initiative in bringing down the club is taken by the left wrist, and the club is then brought forward rapidly and with an even acceleration of pace until the club head is about a couple of feet fr...
-The Action Of The Wrists. Part 6
Let us now glance at the Badminton Golf and see what Mr. Horace Hutchinson has to say with regard to this wrist action. At page 90 we read: Now as the club comes near the ball, the wrists, which were...
-Chapter X. The Flight Of The Golf Ball
The flight of the ball, and particularly of the golf ball, exercises a strange fascination for many people to whom the phenomena of flight exhibited by a spinning ball travelling through the air, are ...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 2
I shall deal with these two statements later on. Professor Tait said: To find that his magnificent carry was due merely to what is virtually a toeing operation - performed no doubt in a vertical and ...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 3
Professor Thomson continues: This problem is in any case a very interesting one, which would be even more interesting if we could accept the explanations of the behaviour of the ball given by some co...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 4
It will thus be seen that Professor Thomson's explanation in this matter is incorrect and misleading. This is about the most unscientific explanation which could be given of this matter, and it is one...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 5
This matter of the different pressure on one side of the ball from that on the other is very simple when one thoroughly grasps it. Professor Thomson gives in his paper an illustration which may perhap...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 6
It is not merely sufficient to contradict Professor Sir J. J. Thomson in these matters, so I shall explain fully the reason for the difference in the flight and run of the slice and the pull. The slic...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 7
At the beginning of Professor Thomson's article he said: I shall not attempt to deal with the many important questions which arise when we consider the impact of the club with the ball, but confine m...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 8
The trouble is that Professor Thomson always takes for his hypothesis something which does not exist in golf, so that in the great majority of cases it does not really matter to us what he proves. As...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 9
It is obvious that by this time much of the back-spin will have been exhausted, but there still remains a considerable amount of rotation, and as the ball begins to fall towards the earth this back-sp...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 10
Now let us consider the impact in the slice. In this case the club strikes the ball a violent blow. The ball, to a very great extent, flattens on the face of the club, and both the ball and the club t...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 11
I have before referred to the idea of pulling and slicing to counteract wind. It is astonishing how deeply rooted this idea is. At page 53 of Concerning Golf Mr. John L. Low says: There is no shot wh...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 12
Mr. Low is evidently under the impression, as was Professor Thomson, that the spin of the ball in the slice is about a vertical axis. This is an error in itself, as we have shown, but it is not nearly...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 13
One may remark here, perhaps, that there is no more unsuitable stroke in which to study the peculiarity of the application of back-spin to the trajectory of the ball than in the high lofted approach s...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 14
Braid quotes an experiment which was made by Professor Tait in the course of his investigations with regard to the qualities of under-spin. It appears that the Professor laid a ball to the string of a...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 15
This very well expresses what has taken place. The golfers have groped their way to what they have found out, without a glimmering of the scientific reasons for doing it, and the consequence is that...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 16
Braid proceeds: Of course, as already indicated, the golfer does not know, and in one sense does not care exactly how much under-spin he gives to his ball when he drives it, only being aware that he ...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 17
Braid seems to have a glimmering of this, for he says: However much a club were laid back it would be impossible to play these shots properly if no under-spin were given to the ball, and it seems to ...
-The Flight Of The Golf Ball. Part 18
Before concluding this chapter I (The Soul Of Golf) must refer to what Braid has to say with regard to a topped stroke. At page 2 3 8 he says: A final thing to remember in connection with this questi...
-Chapter XI. The Golf Ball
It is remarkable, when one considers the vast number of scientific men who play golf, how little attention has been directed by them to the form and make of the golf ball. Many golfers are under the i...
-The Golf Ball. Part 2
We have already seen that the putting-green assists, to a certain extent, to make up for the defects of the ball with bramble marking, but it must not be forgotten that although the putting-green does...
-The Golf Ball. Part 3
Mr. Ayres helped me in my experiments with remarkable patience and ability. I found that there are a hundred and one different markings, all of which are practically of equal service in so far as rega...
-The Golf Ball. Part 4
It is very easy indeed to test the rubber-cored balls as regards the correctness of their centre of gravity. Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey found that none of the rubber-cored balls was correct as to its cen...
-The Golf Ball. Part 5
After this had been done with one ball the same was done with another, and it is almost unnecessary to say that the angle of elevation and the force used in each case was the same. Sir Ralph found tha...
-The Golf Ball. Part 6
It is obvious that from this I was trying to work to the mean which I felt perfectly certain existed between the old golf ball, whose erratic flight was well known, and the modern golf ball with its e...
-The Golf Ball. Part 7
These experiments are of very great value, and should be carefully noted by golf ball makers, but Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey was not content with testing the golf balls for their flight. After having put...
-The Golf Ball. Part 8
All this goes to prove that, although a ball may be of inaccurate make, it keeps its line to near the end of its course when hit hard along the ground, as for instance, in a long running up approach t...
-The Golf Ball. Part 9
The phenomenon of the uneven flight of the smooth golf ball has never, so far as I am aware, been satisfactorily explained. We all know, of course, that practically nothing which has not a tail flies ...
-Chapter XII. The Construction Of Clubs
In my last chapter I (The Soul Of Golf) dealt with the construction of the golf ball. In many respects the golf club is more perfectly made than the golf ball, although it is, of course, hard to compa...
-The Construction Of Clubs. Part 2
Now it is absolutely incontestable that this principle is scientifically more accurate and will deliver a stronger blow than the golf clubs which are at present used. James Braid in 1901 said of this ...
-The Construction Of Clubs. Part 3
It is a very great mistake indeed to attempt to introduce any standard golf club or to lay down any regulation whatever as to how the golf club shall be made. The good sense and sportsmanlike instinct...
-The Construction Of Clubs. Part 4
There are many fearful and wonderful putters on the market at the present time. Lately there has been produced a putter with a very shallow face, which is now being largely used because a man who has ...
-The Construction Of Clubs. Part 5
Most mashies are constructed in a very unscientific manner. It is the function of the mashie to get as far underneath the ball as possible. To do this a mashie should always have its front edge very c...
-Chapter XIII. The Literature Of Golf
It will be readily understood by those who have followed me that I consider that golf has been badly served by those who have essayed to teach it by books. The main, if not indeed the whole, cause of ...
-The Literature Of Golf. Part 2
It will be obvious that as the club is at the lowest portion of its arc it is necessary to lift the club. This is done by an easy action of the wrists, and the waggle, of course, then becomes a swing ...
-The Literature Of Golf. Part 3
At page 31, Mr. Travis says: Every golfing stroke describes a circle, or a segment of a circle. This is an egregious error, for the golf stroke, quite naturally from the method of its production, be...
-The Literature Of Golf. Part 4
Coming from a practical golfer this is an absolutely amazing statement. The idea of attempting to deflect one's niblick from the line originally mapped out for it as it enters the sand is too amazing ...
-Afterword
It would be very easy for me now to begin to explain in the ordinary manner of golf books how the game is played, but to do so would be going outside the scope of this work, and interfering either wit...
-Books on Golf
THE MYSTERY OF GOLF By ARNOLD HAULTAIN Second and Cheaper Edition. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net. Mr. Henry Leach in the EVENING NEWS. - Mr. Haultain's book answers to all the tests to which it may be su...







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previous page: The Spirit Of The Links | by Henry Leach
  
page up: Golf Books
  
next page: The World Of Golf | by Garden Smith