Golf Talk

One day a very keen golfer walked into a doctor’s office and it happened that the M.D. also was a golfer and a fellow club member. There were no waiting patients and for more than an hour the two talked golf. Finally the visitor arose to take departure, when the doctor casually inquired, “By the way, how is Mrs. Blank? Well, I hope.” The other flushed and stammered, “Gee Whiz, Doc! That’s what I came around for. You must see the wife at once. She’s sick as a dog.” All of which brings to mind the thought that golf may be talked too much and when this happens, talk becomes gas and often is overpowering.

Through many years, struggling players have endeavored to improve their strokes by keeping their ears open to catch stray bits of wisdom that fall from the lips of great players and to the instructions of the professional coach. With avidity, they pour over each new book of instruction, written by champions or theorists and earnestly strive to assimilate it all. When we regard the great numbers of such books which have appeared during the past twenty years and more, many of them excellent sure, we must realize how chaotic must be the mind of the omnivorous reader. There has been so much golf talk that the real object of the visit to the doctor is overlooked for the nonce. Many are oblivious to the major necessity of hitting the ball with the head of a club so deeply are they involved in their estimates of stances, body turns, wrist pronations and what have you. Before we become too talky let us to the marrow of this bone we are gnawing. In brief, simplicity seems desirable.

In an article, written by George Jacobus, this president of the P.G.A. shows how seriously he regards his job. While all may not agree in toto, it must be admitted that his plea for a simplified method of professional instruction is worth of considerable thought. A few fundamentals should serve as a strong foundation upon which to build anyone’s game.

It would seem that the greatest difference of opinions may be those favoring the open or the shut face of the irons. Each has worthy exponents. Probably it would be a wise thing for the player to make his own choice and then stick to that school. This would be simplicity itself. But it is a truth that the intelligent coaching of truly qualified and capable instructors is discounted by the parrot-like talk of so many who are in no wise fitted to instruct. Unfortunately, the loss of confidence which must follow the failure of accomplishment after ignorant teaching, tars the stick which beats against the conscientious work of the real mentors. It is but common sense to appreciate that all men cannot strike a ball in the same manor. A fat, tubby person could not, nor should try, to swing a golf club like a lang-ganglin’ six-footer, who is constructed along the classic lines of a bed-slat. Certainly the same fundamental principals would apply in each case, but the development of each man’s swinging must result from the teacher’s analysis of his pupil’s physical limitations and wise modeling of form to individual qualities.

An speaking of Form. What is form? Generally it seems to refer a pleasing style, impressive because of its ease and grace. Fair enough! This is form provided it is coupled with consistent excellence of performance. But we content that not every golfer who has form necessarily displays a particularly attractive stroke. Might we not say that form was the practical demonstration of a knowledge of cause and effect, and the ability to put that knowledge to telling use. All form must be built up from sound principle that must dominate each successive movement of brain and body. These visible motions may or may not be particularly pleasing although good form usually is.

Walter Travis had a peculiar shoulder hitch, particularly with his wood, and may keen students declared that he played in bad form. However, Travis knew his limitations and his greatest handicap has the inability to bring off long carries. But he got good length from the tee because his shoulder hitch brought the club-head up as the ball was struck, imparting an overspin which gave him a fairly long, running ball. We will grant that it was not pleasing form, but insist, that because the "old man" knew what he was about and could bring it off with regularity, it was form, awkward perhaps, but winning form nevertheless.


Leo Diegel’s putting form is not attractive, but he manages to sink a lot of putts. If he didn’t he scarcely would be on the Ryder Cup Team. We know a great many prettier putters who can miss the cup by plenty – right along. Which suggests the old rhyme:

The June Bug got wings of gold’
The Lightning Bug of Flame;
The Cockroach got no wings at all,
But he gets there, just the same.


A remarkable action photograph of that period