The Complete Golfer [1905]
by Harry Vardon
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OPEN CHAMPION, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903 AMERICAN CHAMPION, 1900




First Published June 1905

Second Edition June 1905


Many times I have been strongly advised to write a book on golf, and now I offer a volume to the great and increasing public who are devoted to the game. So far as the instructional part of the book is concerned, I may say that, while I have had the needs of the novice constantly in mind, and have endeavoured to the best of my ability to put him on the right road to success, I have also presented the full fruits of my experience in regard to the fine points of the game, so that what I have written may be of advantage to improving golfers of all degrees of skill. There are some things in golf which cannot be explained in writing, or for the matter of that even by practical demonstration on the links. They come to the golfer only through instinct and experience. But I am far from believing that, as is so often said, a player can learn next to nothing from a book. If he goes about his golf in the proper manner he can learn very much indeed. The services of a competent tutor will be as necessary to him as ever, and I must not be understood to suggest that this work can to any extent take the place of that compulsory and most invaluable tuition. On the other hand, it is next to impossible for a tutor to tell a pupil on the links everything about any particular stroke while he is playing it, and if he could it would not be remembered. Therefore I hope and think that, in conjunction with careful coaching by those who are qualified for the task, and by immediate and constant practice of the methods which I set forth, this book may be of service to all who aspire to play a really good game. If any player of the first degree of skill should take exception to any of these methods, I have only one answer to make, and that is that, just as they are explained in the following pages, they are precisely those which helped me to win my five championships. These and no others I practise every day upon the links. I attach great importance to the photographs and the accompanying diagrams, the objects of which are simplicity and lucidity. When a golfer is in difficulty with any particular stroke—and the best of us are constantly in trouble with some stroke or other—I think that a careful examination of the pictures relating to that stroke will frequently put him right, while a glance at the companion in the "How not to do it" series may reveal to him at once the error into which he has fallen and which has hitherto defied detection. All the illustrations in this volume have been prepared from photographs of myself in the act of playing the different strokes on the Totteridge links last autumn. Each stroke was carefully studied at the time for absolute exactness, and the pictures now reproduced were finally selected by me from about two hundred which were taken. In order to obtain complete satisfaction, I found it necessary to have a few of the negatives repeated after the winter had set in, and there was a slight fall of snow the night before the morning appointed for the purpose. I owe so much—everything—to the great game of golf, which I love very dearly, and which I believe is without a superior for deep human and sporting interest, that I shall feel very delighted if my "Complete Golfer" is found of any benefit to others who play or are about to play. I give my good wishes to every golfer, and express the hope to each that he may one day regard himself as complete. I fear that, in the playing sense, this is an impossible ideal. However, he may in time be nearly "dead" in his "approach" to it.

I have specially to thank Mr. Henry Leach for the invaluable services he has rendered to me in the preparation of the work







The happy golfer—A beginning at Jersey—The Vardon family—An anxious tutor—Golfers come to Grouville—A fine natural course—Initiation as a caddie—Primitive golf—How we made our clubs—Matches in the moonlight—Early progress—The study of methods—Not a single lesson—I become a gardener—The advice of my employer—"Never give up golf"—A nervous player to begin with—My first competition—My brother Tom leaves home—He wins a prize at Musselburgh—I decide for professionalism—An appointment at Ripon.



Not enough golf—"Reduced to cricket"—I move to Bury—A match with Alexander Herd—No more nerves—Third place in an open competition—I play for the Championship—A success at Portrush—Some conversation and a match with Andrew Kirkaldy—Fifth for the Championship at Sandwich—Second at the Deal tournament—Eighth in the Championship at St. Andrews—I go to Ganton—An invitation to the south of France—The Championship at Muirfield—An exciting finish—A stiff problem at the last hole—I tie with Taylor—We play off, and I win the Championship—A tale of a putter—Ben Sayers wants a "wun'"—What Andrew thought of Muirfield—I win the Championship again at Prestwick—Willie Park as runner-up—My great match with Park—Excellent arrangements—A welcome victory—On money matches in general—My third Championship at Sandwich—My fourth at Prestwick—Golf under difficulties.



The mistakes of the beginner—Too eager to play a round—Despair that follows—A settling down to mediocrity—All men may excel—The sorrows of a foozler—My advice—Three months' practice to begin with—The makings of a player—Good golf is best—How Mr. Balfour learned the game—A wise example—Go to the professional—The importance of beginning well—Practise with each club separately—Driver, brassy, cleek, iron, mashie, and putter—Into the hole at last—Master of a bag of clubs—The first match—How long drives are made—Why few good players are coming on—Golf is learned too casually.



Difficulties of choice—A long search for the best—Experiments with more than a hundred irons—Buy few clubs to begin with—Take the professional's advice—A preliminary set of six—Points of the driver—Scared wooden clubs are best—Disadvantages of the socket—Fancy faces—Short heads—Whip in the shaft—The question of weight—Match the brassy with the driver—Reserve clubs—Kinds of cleeks—Irons and mashies—The niblick—The putting problem—It is the man who putts and not the putter—Recent inventions—Short shafts for all clubs—Lengths and weights of those I use—Be careful of your clubs—Hints for preserving them.



Advantage of a good drive—And the pleasure of it—More about the driver—Tee low—Why high tees are bad—The question of stance—Eccentricities and bad habits—Begin in good style—Measurements of the stance—The reason why—The grip of the club—My own method and its advantages—Two hands like one—Comparative tightness of the hands—Variations during the swing—Certain disadvantages of the two-V grip—Addressing the ball—Freaks of style—How they must be compensated for—Too much waggling—The point to look at—Not the top of the ball, but the side of it.



"Slow back"—The line of the club head in the upward swing—The golfer's head must be kept rigid—The action of the wrists—Position at the top of the swing—Movements of the arms—Pivoting of the body—No swaying—Action of the feet and legs—Speed of the club during the swing—The moment of impact—More about the wrists—No pure wrist shot in golf—The follow-through—Timing of the body action—Arms and hands high up at the finish—How bad drives are made—The causes of slicing—When the ball is pulled—Misapprehensions as to slicing and pulling—Dropping of the right shoulder—Its evil consequences—No trick in long driving—Hit properly and hard—What is pressing and what is not—Summary of the drive.



Good strokes with the brassy—Play as with the driver—The points of the brassy—The stance—Where and how to hit the ball—Playing from cuppy lies—Jab strokes from badly-cupped lies—A difficult club to master—The man with the spoon—The lie for the baffy—What it can and cannot do—Character of the club—The stance—Tee shots with the baffy—Iron clubs are better.



The master stroke in golf—Intentional pulling and slicing—The contrariness of golf—When pulls and slices are needful—The stance for the slice—The upward swing—How the slice is made—The short sliced stroke—Great profits that result—Warnings against irregularities—How to pull a ball—The way to stand—The work of the right hand—A feature of the address—What makes a pull—Effect of wind on the flight of the ball—Greatly exaggerated notions—How wind increases the effect of slicing and pulling—Playing through a cross wind—The shot for a head wind—A special way of hitting the ball—A long low flight—When the wind comes from behind.



A test of the golfer—The versatility of the cleek—Different kinds of cleeks—Points of the driving mashie—Difficulty of continued success with it—The cleek is more reliable—Ribbed faces for iron clubs—To prevent skidding—The stance for an ordinary cleek shot—The swing—Keeping control over the right shoulder—Advantages of the three-quarter cleek shot—The push shot—My favourite stroke—The stance and the swing—The way to hit the ball—Peculiar advantages of flight from the push stroke—When it should not be attempted—The advantage of short swings as against full swings with iron clubs—Playing for a low ball against the wind—A particular stance—Comparisons of the different cleek shots—General observations and recommendations—Mistakes made with the cleek.



The average player's favourite club—Fine work for the iron—Its points—The right and the wrong time for play with it—Stance measurements—A warning concerning the address—The cause of much bad play with the iron—The swing—Half shots with the iron—The regulation of power—Features of erratic play—Forced and checked swings—Common causes of duffed strokes—Swings that are worthless.



The great advantage of good approach play—A fascinating club—Characteristics of a good mashie—Different kinds of strokes with it—No purely wrist shot—Stance and grip—Position of the body—No pivoting on the left toe—The limit of distance—Avoid a full swing—The half iron as against the full mashie—The swing—How not to loft—On scooping the ball—Taking a divot—The running-up approach—A very valuable stroke—The club to use—A tight grip with the right hand—Peculiarities of the swing—The calculation of pitch and run—The application of cut and spin—A stroke that is sometimes necessary—Standing for a cut—Method of swinging and hitting the ball—The chip on to the green—Points of the jigger.



The philosopher in a bunker—On making certain of getting out—The folly of trying for length—When to play back—The qualities of the niblick—Stance and swing—How much sand to take—The time to press—No follow-through in a bunker—Desperate cases—The brassy in a bunker—Difficulties through prohibited grounding—Play straight when length is imperative—Cutting with the niblick.



A game within another game—Putting is not to be taught—The advantage of experience—Vexation of missing short putts—Some anecdotes—Individuality in putting—The golfer's natural system—How to find it—And when found make a note of it—The quality of instinct—All sorts of putters—How I once putted for a Championship—The part that the right hand plays—The manner of hitting the ball—On always being up and "giving the hole a chance"—Easier to putt back after overrunning than when short—The trouble of Tom Morris.



Problems on undulating greens—The value of practice—Difficulties of calculation—The cut stroke with the putter—How to make it—When it is useful—Putting against a sideways slope—A straighter line for the hole—Putting down a hill—Applying drag to the ball—The use of the mashie on the putting-green—Stymies—When they are negotiable and when not—The wisdom of playing for a half—Lofting over the stymie—The run-through method—Running through the stymie—How to play the stroke, and its advantages—Fast greens for fancy strokes—On gauging the speed of a green.



Too much golf—Analysis of good strokes—One's attitude towards one's opponent—Inaccurate counting of strokes—Tactics in match play—Slow couples on the course—Asking for halves—On not holing out when the half is given—Golfing attire—Braces better than belts—Shoes better than boots—How the soles should be nailed—On counting your strokes—Insisting on the rules—Play in frosty weather—Chalked faces for wet days—Against gloves—Concerning clubs—When confidence in a club is lost—Make up your mind about your shot—The golfer's lunch—Keeping the eye on the ball—The life of a rubber-core—A clean ball—The caddie's advice—Forebodings of failure—Experiments at the wrong time—One kind of golf at a time—Bogey beaten, but how?—Tips for tee shots—As to pressing—The short approach and the wayward eye—Swinging too much—For those with defective sight—Your opponent's caddie—Making holes in the bunkers—The golfer's first duty—Swinging on the putting-greens—Practise difficult shots and not easy ones, etc.



Its difficulties—Nerves are fatal—The philosophic spirit—Experience and steadiness—The torn card—Too much hurry to give up—A story and a moral—Indifference to your opponent's brilliance—Never slacken when up—The best test of golf—If golf were always easy—Cautious play in medal rounds—Risks to be taken—The bold game in match play—Studying the course—Risks that are foolishly taken—New clubs in competitions—On giving them a trial—No training necessary—As to the pipe and glass—How to be at one's best and keenest—On playing in the morning—In case of a late draw—Watch your opponents.



The four-ball foursome—Its inferiority to the old-fashioned game—The case of the long-handicap man—Confusion on the greens—The man who drives last—The old-fashioned two-ball foursome—Against too many foursomes—Partners and each other—Fitting in their different games—The man to oblige—The policy of the long-handicap man—How he drove and missed in the good old days—On laying your partner a stymie—A preliminary consideration of the round—Handicapping in foursomes—A too delicate reckoning of strokes given and received—A good foursome and the excitement thereof—A caddie killed and a hole lost—A compliment to a golfer.



As to its being a ladies' game—A sport of freedom—The lady on the links—The American lady golfer—English ladies are improving—Where they fail, and why—Good pupils—The same game as the man's—No short swings for ladies—Clubs of too light weight—Their disadvantages—A common fault with the sex—Bad backward swings—The lady who will find out for herself—Foundations of a bad style—The way to success.



Necessity for thought and ingenuity—The long-handicap man's course—The scratch player's—How good courses are made—The necessary land—A long nine-hole course better than a short eighteen—The preliminary survey—A patient study of possibilities—Stakes at the holes—Removal of natural disadvantages—"Penny wise and pound foolish"—The selection of teeing grounds—A few trial drives—The arrangement of long and short holes—The best two-shot and three-shot holes—Bunkers and where to place them—The class of player to cater for—The scratch man's game—The shots to be punished—Bunkers down the sides—The best putting greens—Two tees to each hole—Seaside courses.



Many first-class links—The best of all—Sandwich—Merits of the Royal St. George's course—Punishments for faults and rewards for virtue—Not a short course—The best hole—The Maiden—Other good holes—Prestwick an excellent course—The third and the ninth holes—The finest hole anywhere—Hoylake—Two or three tame holes—A means of improvement—Good hazards and a premium on straight play—St. Andrews—Badly-placed bunkers—A good second hole—The finest one-shot hole to be found anywhere—An unfair hole—The best holes at Muirfield—Troon—North Berwick—Cruden Bay—Dornoch—Machrihanish—A splendid course at Islay—The most difficult hole I know—Gullane—Kilspindie—Luffness—Links in Ireland—Portrush—Portmarnock—Dollymount—Lahinch—Newcastle—Welsh courses—Ashburnham—Harlech—On the south and south-west coasts—The rushes at Westward Ho!—Newquay—Good holes at Deal—Littlestone—Rye—The advantage of Cromer—Brancaster—Hunstanton—Sheringham—Redcar—Seaton Carew—St. Anne's—Formby—Wallasey—Inland courses—Sunningdale—A splendid course—Another at Walton Heath—Huntercombe—London links—Courses in the country—Sheffield—Manchester—Huddersfield—"Inland" courses at the seaside—A warning.



Good golf in the United States—My tour through the country—Mr. Travis's victory in our Amateur Championship—Not a surprise—The man who played the best golf—British amateurs must wake up—Other good Americans will come—Our casual methods of learning golf—The American system—My matches in the States—A good average—Driving well—Some substantial victories—Some difficult matches—Course records—Enthusiasm of the American crowds—The golf fever—The king of baseball takes to golf—The American Open Championship—A hard fight with J.H. Taylor—A welcome win—Curious experiences in Florida—Greens without grass—The plague of locusts—Some injury to my game—"Mr. Jones"—Fooling the caddies—Camping out on the links—Golf reporting in America—Ingenious and good—Mistakes made by non-golfing writers—Lipping the hole for a hundred dollars.



Varieties of caddies—Advice to a left-handed player—Cock-shots at Ganton—Unearned increments—An offer to carry for the fun of the thing—The caddie who knows too much—My ideal caddie—His points—The girl caddie—A splendid type—Caddies' caustic humour—Some specimens of it—Mr. Balfour's taste in caddies—When the caddie is too anxious—Good human kindness—"Big Crawford"—"Lookin' aifter Maister Balfour"—An ingenious claim—A salute for the Chief Secretary—A story of a distressed clergyman—Sandy Smith—The clothes he wore—An excess of zeal—The caddies' common-sense—When his lot is not a happy one.



Good golf to come—Giants of the past—The amateurs of to-day—The greatness of "Freddy" Tait—Modern professionals—Good sportsmen and good friends—A misconception—The constant strain—How we always play our best—Difficult tasks—No "close season" in golf—Spectators at big matches—Certain anecdotes—Putting for applause—Shovelling from a bunker—The greatest match I have ever played in—A curious incident—A record in halves—A coincidence—The exasperation of Andrew—The coming of spring—The joyful golfer.

APPENDIX (Rules of the Game) 267



PORTRAIT Frontispiece


I. My set of clubs 48

II. The grip with the left hand 58

III. The overlapping grip 58

IV. The overlapping grip 58

V. The overlapping grip 58

VI. Driver and brassy. The stance 66

VII. Driver and brassy. Top of the swing 66

VIII. Driver and brassy. Top of the swing from behind 66

IX. Driver and brassy. Finish of the swing 66

X. How not to drive 72

XI. How not to drive 72

XII. How not to drive 72

XIII. How not to drive 72

XIV. Driver and brassy. Stance when playing for a slice 86

XV. Driver and brassy. Top of the swing when playing for a slice 86

XVI. Driver and brassy. Finish when playing for a slice 86

XVII. Driver and brassy. Playing for a pull. Stance 90

XVIII. Driver and brassy. Top of the swing when playing for a pull 90

XIX. Driver and brassy. Finish when playing for a pull 90

XX. Driver and brassy. Stance for a low ball against the wind 96

XXI. Driver and brassy. Stance for a high ball with the wind 96

XXII. Full shot with the cleek. Stance 102

XXIII. Full shot with the cleek. Top of the swing 102

XXIV. Full shot with the cleek. Finish 102

XXV. Full shot with the cleek. Finish 102

XXVI. The push shot with the cleek. Stance 106

XXVII. The push shot with the cleek. Top of the swing 106

XXVIII. The push shot with the cleek. Finish 106

XXIX. A low ball (against wind) with the cleek. Stance 106

XXX. A low ball (against wind) with the cleek. Top of the swing 106

XXXI. A low ball (against wind) with the cleek. Finish 106

XXXII. Faulty play with the cleek 110

XXXIII. Faulty play with the cleek 110

XXXIV. Faulty play with the cleek 110

XXXV. Faulty play with the cleek 110

XXXVI. Faulty play with the cleek 110

XXXVII. Full iron shot. Stance 114

XXXVIII. Full iron shot. Top of the swing 114

XXXIX. Full iron shot. Finish 114

XL. Play with the iron for a low ball (against wind). Stance 114

XLI. Play with the iron for a low ball (against wind). Top of the swing 114

XLII. Play with the iron for a low ball (against wind). Finish 114

XLIII. Mashie approach (pitch and run). Stance 122

XLIV. Mashie approach (pitch and run). Top of the swing 122

XLV. Mashie approach (pitch and run). Finish 122

XLVI. Mistakes with the mashie 122

XLVII. Mistakes with the mashie 122

XLVIII. Mistakes with the mashie 122

XLIX. Running-up approach with mashie or iron. Finish, with stance also indicated 122

L. A cut approach with the mashie. Stance 122

LI. A cut approach with the mashie. Top of the swing 122

LII. A cut approach with the mashie. Finish 122

LIII. The niblick in a bunker. Top of an ordinary stroke when it is intended to take much sand 136

LIV. "Well out!" Finish of an ordinary stroke in a bunker when much sand is taken 136

LV. Another bunker stroke. Top of the swing when intending to take the ball cleanly and with a little cut 136

LVI. Finish, after taking the ball cleanly from a bunker 136

LVII. Putting 146

LVIII. Putting 146


Trajectory of ball when a distant slice is required 89

Trajectory of ball in the case of a quick slice 90

Method and effect of pulling into a cross wind from the right 94

The push shot with the cleek 106

Putting with cut on a sloping green 154

Nails in golfing boots and shoes 167

Points to look at when addressing the ball 170




The happy golfer—A beginning at Jersey—The Vardon family—An anxious tutor—Golfers come to Grouville—A fine natural course—Initiation as a caddie—Primitive golf—How we made our clubs—Matches in the moonlight—Early progress—The study of methods—Not a single lesson—I become a gardener—The advice of my employer—"Never give up golf"—A nervous player to begin with—My first competition—My brother Tom leaves home—He wins a prize at Musselburgh—I decide for professionalism—An appointment at Ripon.

I have sometimes heard good golfers sigh regretfully, after holing out on the eighteenth green, that in the best of circumstances as to health and duration of life they cannot hope for more than another twenty, or thirty, or forty years of golf, and they are then very likely inclined to be a little bitter about the good years of their youth that they may have "wasted" at some other less fascinating sport. When the golfer's mind turns to reflections such as these, you may depend upon it that it has been one of those days when everything has gone right and nothing wrong, and the supreme joy of life has been experienced on the links. The little white ball has seemed possessed of a soul—a soul full of kindness and the desire for doing good. The clubs have seemed endowed with some subtle qualities that had rarely been discovered in them before. Their lie, their balance, their whip, have appeared to reach the ideal, and such command has been felt over them as over a dissecting instrument in the hands of a skilful surgeon. The sun has been shining and the atmosphere has sparkled when, flicked cleanly from the tee, the rubber-cored ball has been sent singing through the air. The drives have all been long and straight, the brassy shots well up, the approaches mostly dead, and the putts have taken the true line to the tin. Hole after hole has been done in bogey, and here and there the common enemy has been beaten by a stroke. Perhaps the result is a record round, and, so great is the enthusiasm for the game at this moment, that it is regarded as a great misfortune that the sun has set and there is no more light left for play. These are the times when the golfer's pulse beats strong, and he feels the remorse of the man with the misspent youth because he was grown up and his limbs were setting before ever he teed a ball.

Well, at least I can say that I have not missed much of the game that I love with a great fondness, for I played a kind of prehistoric golf when I was a bad boy of seven, and off and on I have played it ever since. It was fortunate for me that the common land at Jersey was years ago the ideal thing for a golfing links, and that golfers from abroad found out its secret, as they always do. If they had failed to do so in this case, I might still have been spending my life in horticultural pursuits. For I was born (on May 9, 1870) and bred in Jersey, at that little place called Grouville, which is no more than a collection of scattered cottages and farmhouses a few miles from St. Heliers. Both my parents were natives of Jersey, and my father, who was seventy-four on the 5th of last November, has been a gardener there all his life, holding the proud record of having changed his place of employment only once during the whole period. There was a big family of us—six boys and two girls—and all, except one of my sisters, are still alive. My brothers were George, Phil, Edward, Tom, and Fred, and I came fourth down the list, after Edward. As most golfers know, my brother Tom, to whom I owe very much, is now the professional at the Royal St. George's Club at Sandwich, while Fred is a professional in the Isle of Man. In due course we all went to the little village school; but I fear, from all that I can remember, and from what I have been told, that knowledge had little attraction for me in those days, and I know that I very often played truant, sometimes for three weeks at a stretch. Consequently my old schoolmaster, Mr. Boomer, had no particular reason to be proud of me at that time, as he seems to have become since. He never enjoys a holiday so much in these days as when he comes over from Jersey to see me play for the Open Championship, as he does whenever the meeting is held at Sandwich. But when I did win a Championship on that course, he was so nervous and excited about my play and my prospects that he felt himself unequal to watching me, and during most of the time that I was doing my four rounds he was sitting in a fretful state upon the seashore. I was a thin and rather delicate boy with not much physical strength, but I was as enthusiastic as the others in the games that were played at that time, and my first ambition was to excel at cricket. A while afterwards I became attached to football, and I retained some fondness for this game long after I took up golf. Even after my golfing tour in America a few years ago, when quite at my best, I captained the Ganton football team and played regularly in its matches.

One day, when I was about seven years of age, a very shocking thing happened at Grouville. All the people there lived a quiet, undisturbed life, and had a very wholesome respect for the sanctity of the Sabbath day. But of all days of the week it was a Sunday when a small party of strange gentlemen made their appearance on the common land, and began to survey and to mark out places for greens and tees. Then the story went about that they were making preparations to play a game called golf. That was enough to excite the wrathful indignation of all the tenant-farmers round about, and without delay they began to think out means for expelling these trespassers from the common land. A tale of indignation spread through Grouville, and these golfers, of whom I remember that Mr. Brewster was one, were not at first regarded in the light of friendship. But they soon made their position secure by obtaining all necessary authority and permission for what they were about to do from the constable of the parish, and from that day we had to resign ourselves to the fact that a new feature had entered into the quiet life of Jersey. The little party went ahead with the marking out of their course, though indeed the natural state of the place was so perfect from the golfer's point of view that very little work was necessary, and no first-class golf links was ever made more easily. There were sand and other natural hazards everywhere, the grass was short and springy just as it is on all good sea-coast links, and all that it was necessary to do was to put a flag down where each hole was going to be, and run the mower and the roller over the space selected for the putting green. Rooms were rented at a little inn hard by, which was forthwith rechristened the Golf Inn, and the headquarters of the Jersey golfers are still at the same place, though a large club-room has been added. That was the beginning of the Royal Jersey Golf Club. The links as they were when they were first completed were really excellent—much better than they are to-day, for since then, in order to prevent the sand being blown all over the course by the strong winds which sweep across the island, the bunkers have in most cases been filled with clay, which has to a great extent spoiled them.

When everything was ready, more of these golfers came across from England to play this new game which we had never seen before, and all the youngsters of the locality were enticed into their service to carry their clubs. I was among the number, and that was my first introduction to the game. We did not think much of it upon our first experience; but after we had carried for a few rounds we came to see that it contained more than we had imagined. Then we were seized with a desire to play it ourselves, and discover what we could do. But we had no links to play upon, no clubs, no balls, and no money. However, we surmounted all these difficulties. To begin with, we laid out a special course of our very own. It consisted of only four holes, and each one of them was only about fifty yards long, but for boys of seven that was quite enough. We made our teeing grounds, smoothed out the greens, and, so far as this part of the business was concerned, we were soon ready for play. There was no difficulty about balls, for we decided at once that the most suitable article for us, in the absence of real gutties, was the big white marble which we called a taw, and which was about half the size of an ordinary golf ball, or perhaps a little less than that. But there was some anxiety in our juvenile minds when the question of clubs came to be considered, and I think we deserved credit for the manner in which we disposed of it. It was apparent that nothing would be satisfactory except a club fashioned on the lines of a real golf club, and that to procure anything of the sort we should have to make it ourselves. Therefore, after several experiments, we decided that we would use for the purpose the hard wood of the tree which we called the lady oak. To make a club we cut a thick branch from the tree, sawed off a few inches from it, and then trimmed this piece so that it had a faint resemblance to the heads of the drivers we had seen used on the links. Any elaborate splicing operations were out of the question, so we agreed that we must bore a hole in the centre of the head. The shaft sticks that we chose and trimmed were made of good thorn, white or black, and when we had prepared them to our satisfaction we put the poker in the fire and made it red hot, then bored a hole with it through the head, and tightened the shaft with wedges until the club was complete. With this primitive driver we could get what was for our diminutive limbs a really long ball, or a long taw as one should say. In these later days a patent has been taken out for drivers with the shaft let into the head, which are to all intents and purposes the same in principle as those which we used to make at Grouville.

By and by some of us became quite expert at the making of these clubs, and we set ourselves to discover ways and means of improving them. The greater elaboration of such brassies as we had seen impressed us, and we also found some trouble with our oak heads in that, being green, they were rather inclined to chip and crack. Ultimately we decided to sheathe the heads entirely with tin. It was not an easy thing to make a good job of this, and we were further troubled by the circumstance that our respective fathers had no sympathy with us, and declined upon any account to lend us their tools. Consequently we had no option but to wait until the coast was clear and then surreptitiously borrow the tools for an hour or two. We called these tin-plated drivers our brassies, and they were certainly an improvement on our original clubs. Occasionally a club was made in this manner which exhibited properties superior to those possessed by any other, as clubs will do even to-day. Forthwith the reputation of the maker of this club went up by leaps and bounds, and he was petitioned by others to make clubs for them, a heavy price in taws and marbles being offered for the service. The club that had created all this stir would change hands two or three times at an increasing price until it required the payment of four or five dozen marbles to become possessed of it. But the boy who owned the treasure was looked upon as the lord of the manor, and odds were demanded of him in the matches that we played.

We practised our very elementary kind of golf whenever we could, and were soon enthusiastic. I remember particularly that many of our best matches were played in the moonlight. The moon seemed to shine more clearly at Jersey than in England, and we could see splendidly. Four of us would go out together on a moonlight night to play, and our little competition was arranged on the medal system by scores. Usually a few marbles were at stake. To prevent the loss of taws one of us was sent ahead to watch for their coming and listen for the faint thud of their fall, while the other three drove from the tee. Then the three came forward while the watcher went back to drive, and I am sorry to say that our keenness in those days led us to disregard certain principles of the sportsman's code of honour which we appreciated better as we grew up. What I mean is that the watcher was often handicapped in a way that he little suspected, for when he went back to the tee, and we went forward and found that our balls were not always so well up as we had hoped, we gave them a gentle kick forwards; for in the dim light we were able to do this unknown to each other. But in legitimate play we often got a 3 at these fifty-yard holes, and with our home-made clubs, our little white taws, our lack of knowledge, and our physical feebleness all taken into consideration, I say we have often done less creditable things since then.

After such beginnings, we progressed very well. We began to carry more and more for the golfers who came to Grouville; we found or were given real balls that took the place of the taws, and then a damaged club occasionally came our way, and was repaired and brought into our own service. Usually it was necessary to put in new shafts, and so we burnt holes in the heads and put in the sticks, as we did with clubs of our own make; but these converted clubs were disappointing in the matter of durability. It happened once or twice that golfers for whom we had been carrying gave us an undamaged club as a reward for our enthusiasm, and we were greatly excited and encouraged when such a thing happened. I used to carry clubs about twice a week. I remember that Mr. Molesworth and Dr. Purves, both well known in the golfing world, were two players for whom I very often carried, and only the other day when I saw the former at the Professional Tournament at Richmond, watching the play, I was able to remind him of those times and of a particular shot he once played. We young caddies were very eager to learn the game thoroughly, and we were in the habit of watching these golfers very closely, comparing their styles, and then copying anything from them that seemed to take our fancy. I may say at once, in reply to a question that I am often asked, and which perhaps my present readers may themselves be inclined to put, that I have never in my life taken a single golfing lesson from anyone, and that whatever style I may possess is purely the result of watching others play and copying them when I thought they made a stroke in a particularly easy and satisfactory manner. It was my habit for very many years after these early days, until in fact I had won the Open Championship, to study the methods of good golfers in this way, and there are few from whom one is not able to learn something. I cannot say that the play of any one man particularly impressed me; I cannot point to any player, past or present, and declare that I modelled my style on his. It seemed to me that I took a little from one and a little from another until my swing was a composition of the swings of several players, and my approach shots likewise were of a very mixed parentage. Of course when I took a hint from the play of anyone I had been watching it required much subsequent practice properly to weld it into my own system; but I think that this close watching of good players, and the borrowing from their styles of all information that you think is good, and then constantly practising the new idea yourself, is an excellent method of improving your golf, though I do not recommend it as the sole method of learning, despite the success which I personally have achieved. However, this is a matter for later consideration.

As we were such a large family and my father's means were very limited, there was the necessity which is common in such cases for all of the boys to turn out early in life and do something towards helping the others, and accordingly I went to work when I was thirteen. Some time afterwards I became gardener to the late Major Spofforth of Beauview, who was himself a very keen golfer, and who occasionally gave me some of his old clubs. Now and then, when he was in want of a partner, he used to take me out to play with him, and I shall never forget the words he spoke to me one day after we had played one of these matches. "Henry, my boy," he said, "take my advice, and never give up golf. It may be very useful to you some day." Certainly his words came true. I can only remember about these games that I was in the habit of getting very nervous over them, much more so than I did later on when I played matches of far more consequence. I joined a working men's golf club that had been formed, and it was through this agency that I won my first prize. A vase was offered for competition among the members, the conditions being that six medal rounds were to be played at the rate of one a month. When we had played five, I was leading by so very many strokes that it was next to impossible for any of the others to catch me up, and as just then my time came for leaving home and going out into the greater world of golf, the committee kindly gave me permission to play my last round two or three weeks before the proper time. It removed all doubt as to the destination of the prize, which has still one of the most honoured places on my mantelpiece. At that time my handicap for this club was plus 3, but that did not mean that I would have been plus 3 anywhere else. As a matter of fact, I should think I must have been about 8 or 10.

By this time my younger brother Tom had already gone away to learn club-making from Lowe at St. Anne's-on-Sea. He played very much the same game of golf as I did at that time, and it was his venture and the success that waited upon it that made me determine to strike out. While Tom was at St. Anne's he went on a journey north to take part in a tournament at Musselburgh, where he captured the second prize. Thereupon I came to the conclusion that, if Tom could do that, then I too with a little patience might do the same. Indeed, I was a very keen golfer just then. At last Lowe was summoned to Lord Ripon's place at Ripon, near Harrogate, to lay out a new nine-holes course, and Tom wrote to me saying that they would be wanting a professional there, and if I desired such an appointment I had better apply for it without delay. I did so, and was engaged. I was twenty years of age when I left home to assume these duties.



Not enough golf—"Reduced to cricket"—I move to Bury—A match with Alexander Herd—No more nerves—Third place in an open competition—I play for the Championship—A success at Portrush—Some conversation and a match with Andrew Kirkaldy—Fifth for the Championship at Sandwich—Second at the Deal tournament—Eighth in the Championship at St. Andrews—I go to Ganton—An invitation to the south of France—The Championship at Muirfield—An exciting finish—A stiff problem at the last hole—I tie with Taylor—We play off, and I win the Championship—A tale of a putter—Ben Sayers wants a "wun'"—What Andrew thought of Muirfield—I win the Championship again at Prestwick—Willie Park as runner-up—My great match with Park—Excellent arrangements—A welcome victory—On money matches in general—My third Championship at Sandwich—My fourth at Prestwick—Golf under difficulties.

No true golfer is satisfied with a little of the game, if there is no substantial reason why he should not have much of it. I was greenkeeper as well as professional to the Studley Royal Golf Club, Ripon; but golf did not seem to have taken a very deep root there up to that time. There was so little of it played that I soon found time hang heavily upon my hands, and in the summer I was reduced to playing cricket, and in fact played more with the bat than I did with the driver. There were one or two good players on the links occasionally, and now and then I had some good games with visitors to the place. One day after such a match my opponent remarked very seriously to me, "Harry, if you take my advice you will get away from here as quickly as you can, as you don't get half enough golf to bring you out." I took the advice very much to heart. I was not unduly conceited about my golf in those days, and the possibility of being Champion at some future time had taken no definite shape in my mind; but I was naturally ambitious and disinclined to waste any opportunities that might present themselves. So, when I saw that the Bury Golf Club were advertising for a professional, I applied for the post and got it. It was by no means a bad nine-holes course that I found at Bury, and I was enabled to play much more golf than at Ripon, while there were some very good amateurs there, Mr. S.F. Butcher being one of the best. I was now beginning to play fairly well, and the first professional match of my life was arranged for me, Alexander Herd of Huddersfield being my opponent in this maiden effort, upon the result of which a stake of a few pounds a side depended. Herd was by that time a famous player and accomplishing some very fine golf, so that on paper at all events the unknown Bury professional had no chance whatever. So indeed it proved. It was fixed that we were to play thirty-six holes, home and home, Herd having the privilege of playing on his own course first. I forget how many he was up at Huddersfield, but it was so many that I had practically no chance of wiping out the difference when I brought my opponent to Bury, and in the end he won quite easily. "Sandy" Herd, as we all call him, and I have had many great matches since then, and many of them of far greater consequence than this, but I shall never forget this beginning. Neither in those days, nor in the others that soon followed, when it became clear that I had a chance of becoming Champion, was I ever in the least troubled with nervousness. I was completely cured of my early complaint. Moreover, I have not known what it is to be nervous even in a Championship round when my fate depended upon almost every stroke, and particularly on those at the last few holes. The feeling that was always uppermost in my mind was that I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. It is only when a man has everything to lose and nothing to gain that he should become uneasy about his game. When you have won a few prizes and there are critical eyes upon you, there may be some excuse for nerves, but not before. All young players should grasp the simple truth of this simple statement; but it is surprising how many fail to do so. No stroke or game ever seemed to cause me any anxiety in those young days, and my rapid success may have been in a large measure due to this indifference.

In 1893 I decided that I would enter for the Open Championship, which in that year was played for at Prestwick, and I went north in company with my brother Tom, stopping on our way to take part in the tournament at Kilmalcolm, which was attended by most of the other professionals. I did fairly well in this, the first open competition for which I entered, being bracketed with poor Hugh Kirkaldy for third place. But I failed in the Championship competition, as, of course, I fully expected to do. That was Willie Auchterlonie's year, and I was some way down the list. I started in great style, and, though I broke down badly later on, there was just the consolation left for me that after all I did better than my partner, Willie Campbell.

There were some curious circumstances attending the first big success of any kind that I achieved. This was at Portrush in Ireland, shortly after the Championship meeting, and the competition was a professional tournament. I was drawn against Andrew Kirkaldy in the first round, and his brother Hugh was one of the next pair, so it seemed that the two Kirkaldys would meet in the second round. Andrew assumed that that would happen, as he had every right to do, and he was heard to remark that it was rather hard luck that the brothers should be set against each other in this manner so early in the competition. The night before the match-play part of the business commenced, I was walking down one of the streets of Portrush when I encountered Andrew himself, and in his own blunt but good-humoured way he remarked, "Young laddie, d'ye think y're gaun to tak the money awa' with ye? Ye've no chance, ye ken." I said nothing in reply, because I felt that he spoke the truth. Next day a heavy gale was blowing, and I started very cautiously. The first hole was on the side of a hill, and when my ball lay a yard from the flag and I had the next stroke for the hole, it was trembling in the wind and threatening every moment to start rolling. So I waited for it to steady itself, and my waiting exasperated Andrew to such an extent that at length he exclaimed, "Man, d'ye ken I'm cauld? Are ye gaun to keep me waiting here a' nicht?" Then I took the putt and missed it, so the hole was halved. However, I set about my opponent after that, and had begun to enjoy the game immensely by the time we reached the turn. At this point two of the holes ran parallel to each other, and as we were playing one of them we passed Hugh and his partner going up to the other. "Man, Andrew, hoo's the game?" called out brother Hugh. "Man alive, I'm five doon!" Andrew replied in tones of distress. "Ma conscience!" muttered Hugh as he passed along. Andrew was more than five down at the finish of that game, and in the second round I had the satisfaction of removing the remaining member of the Kirkaldy family from the competition, while in the semi-final I beat an old Open Champion, D. Brown. But in the final, Herd defeated me on the last green, and so I had to be content with the prize given for runner-up. Shortly afterwards I won another prize in a tournament at Ilkley, this time accounting for Herd as well as my brother Tom and many other well-known players. Tom was professional at Ilkley, and the course there was a very difficult nine holes.

I did better in the competition for the Open Championship in the following year when the meeting was held at Sandwich, playing a particularly good game on the second day, when my 80 and 81 were one of the two lowest combined returns. At the finish I was fifth, and felt very pleased to occupy the position, for the excellence of the golf that I witnessed was a surprise to me. From Sandwich the professionals went on to Deal, where a tournament was held, in which I managed to secure second place. It was Herd who beat me once again. At St. Andrews in the 1895 Competition, I returned the lowest score in the first round, but could only tie for the ninth place at the finish. My old friend, J.H. Taylor, who made his first essay to capture the blue ribbon of golf at Prestwick at the same time that I did, was the winner at both this and the previous Championship meeting. A few months later I left Bury for Ganton; Tom, who had been over there with some Ilkley players at the Yorkshire meeting, having heard that they were in need of a new professional, and written to me at once with advice to apply. Between leaving Bury and going to Ganton I had three weeks of good golf at Pau, in the south of France, the great and unexpected honour being paid me of an invitation to form one of a small party of professionals for whom a series of matches and competitions had been arranged there. Taylor, Herd, Archie Simpson, Willie Auchterlonie, and Lloyd, the local professional, were the others. Professional golfers when they are out together usually manage to have a pretty good time, and this occasion was no exception. Knowing a little French, I was once appointed cashier and paymaster for the party, but I did not know enough of the language to feel quite at home when large figures were the subject of discussion, and I remember that the result was an awkward incident at Bordeaux on the return journey. We were called upon to pay excess fare for the luxury of travelling in the express, and, failing to understand the ticket collector, I was filling his hand with francs, one by one, waiting for him to tell me when he was in possession of the required amount. But he needed more and more, and the situation was becoming embarrassing, when the guard whistled and the train moved off. If it had not been for that intervention we might still have been paying him excess fare. I went to Ganton immediately on my return, and in the spring of that year, 1896, a match between Taylor and myself was arranged on my new course, when I had the satisfaction of winning.

I was looking forward very keenly to the Open Championship that year. It was at Muirfield, and it took place only four or five weeks after this encouraging victory over Taylor. In the meantime I had been a little off my game, and when I teed my first ball at Muirfield it seemed to me that I was as likely to make a bad drive as a good one, and I was equally uncertain with all the other clubs in my bag. But as it happened I was fortunate enough to be playing well during the competition, and was close up at the end of the first day, with Taylor in the next place above me. The next day I was again playing well, and the result was exciting. Taylor was doing his rounds only a few holes in front of me, and late in the contest it became apparent that the issue would be left between us. I did not know exactly what I had to do to win until about four holes from the finish, when someone, who had seen Taylor putt out at the last green, came up to me and told me what number of strokes was still left to me to play if I were to tie with him. When I came to the last hole I had set me what I think was the most anxious problem that has ever come my way since I first took up golf. I had five strokes left to play in order to tie with Taylor and give me the right to play off with him for the Championship, and four left with which to win it outright. It is a fairly long hole—a drive and a good brassy, with a very nasty bunker guarding the green. Thus, while it was an easy 5, it was a difficult 4, and the bold golfer who made his bid for the low figure might possibly be punished with a 6. My drive was good, and then I had to make my choice between the bold game and the sure one. A Championship hung upon the decision. The prospect of being the winner in less than five minutes was tempting. The brassy would give me the Championship or nothing. The iron would admit me to the privilege of playing off with Taylor another day. I hesitated. I think I would have taken the iron in any case; but just when I was longing for an inspiration, my eye wandered among the spectators some sixty or seventy yards in front of me, and I caught sight of my friend James Kay of Seaton Carew making frantic efforts to attract my attention, and pointing with his hand to the ground on the near side of the bunker as a hint to play short. That settled it. I played short, got my 5, and tied with Taylor with a total score of 316.

The play-off was full of interest and excitement. Taylor and I were granted permission to take part in a tournament at North Berwick before we settled the question between us. When at length we teed up again at Muirfield, I felt as though I were fit to play for anything, and started in a way that justified my confidence, for I picked up a useful lead of five strokes in the first half-dozen holes. After that Taylor settled down to most brilliant golf, and brought my lead down to a single stroke; but at the end of the first round I was two to the good. To my exasperation, this lead disappeared with the very first stroke that I made after lunch. There is a wood running along the left-hand side of the line of the first hole on this course. With my cleek shot from the tee I pulled the ball into this dismal place, and by the rule in force at the time I lost two strokes and played again from the tee, Taylor holing out in 3 to my 5. However, at this crisis I came out again and won a stroke at each of the next three holes, and only lost one of them from that point to the seventeenth. Two strokes to the good and two holes to go—that at least seemed good for the Championship. On the seventeenth green, my brother Tom, who was carrying my clubs for me, took a lot of trouble to point out the line of a putt the whole length of the green, but something prompted me to take an entirely different course, and I holed the putt, gaining another stroke. There we were, Taylor and I, at that last hole again, but this time we were together, and I had a big advantage over my good friend on this occasion. There was more mental golf to be played, and though Taylor's ordeal was the more trying, neither of us had any difficulty in coming to a decision. My course was clear. With a lead of three strokes I had to play for a 5, as on the previous occasion, because it was certain to give me the Championship. Taylor's only chance was to blaze away with both his driver and his brassy, and trust to getting his second shot so well placed on the green as to secure a 3, which, in the event of my dropping a stroke through an accident in the bunker or elsewhere and taking 6, would enable him to tie. I obtained my 5 without difficulty, but Taylor's gallant bid for 3 met with an unhappy fate, for his second shot was trapped in the bunker, and it took him 6 to hole out. And so with a score of 157 to Taylor's 161, I was Open Champion at last, and for the first time in my life I felt some emotion as a golfer. I was too dazed to speak, and it seemed as if my feet had taken root on the eighteenth green, for I don't think I moved for several minutes.

There is a little tale I want to tell about that Championship, illustrating the old saying that golf is a very funny game, and giving some point to a recommendation that I shall have to make later on. Never in my life have I putted better than I did in those two rounds. If, when I had a putt the whole length of the green, I did not actually rattle it into the tin, I laid it stone dead on the lip of the hole; on no green did I take more than two putts. Yet in the various rounds I had played on several days before my putting had been very indifferent. How came this remarkable change? It seems to me that it was entirely due to a chance visit that I paid to Ben Sayers's shop when I was at North Berwick in the interval between tieing with Taylor and playing the deciding rounds. I told the clubmaker who was in charge that I was off my putting, and wanted a new putter. Hitherto I had been playing with one of the bent-necked variety. While I was looking about the shop my eye was attracted by an old cleek that lay in a corner—a light and neglected club, for which nobody seemed to have any use. The strange idea occurred to me that this would make a grand putter, and so I told the man to take out the old shaft and put a new and shorter one in, and when this process had been completed I determined to experiment with it in the play-off with Taylor. I fancied this new discovery of mine and had confidence in it, and that was why I got all those long putts down and achieved the golfer's greatest ambition. But though I keep it still and treasure it, I have never played with that putter since. It has done its duty.

I must tell just one other story concerning this Muirfield Championship. Among the favourites at the beginning of operations were Ben Sayers and Andrew Kirkaldy, and a victory on the part of either of them would have been most popular in the North, as it would have settled the cup on the other side of the Tweed. Ben was rather inclined to think his own prospects were good. Someone asked him the day before the meeting who was the most likely Champion. "Jist gie me a wun' an' I'll show ye wha'll be the Champion," he replied, and he had some reason for the implied confidence in himself, for he knew Muirfield very well, and no one had better knowledge of how to play the strokes properly there when there was a gale blowing over the course, and pulling and slicing were constantly required. But neither Ben nor Andrew was as successful as was wished, and not unnaturally they thought somewhat less of Muirfield than they had done before. Therefore it was not fair to ask Kirkaldy, after the competition had been completed, what he really considered to be the merits of the course. I was standing near him when a player came up and bluntly asked, "What d'ye think o' Muirfield now, Andrew?" Andrew's lip curled as he replied, "No for gowff ava'. Just an auld watter meedie. I'm gled I'm gaun hame." But the inquirer must needs ejaculate, "Hooch ay, she would be ferry coot whateffer if you had peen in Harry Fardon's shoes."

There was an exciting finish also to the 1898 Championship, which was held at Prestwick. The final struggle was left to Willie Park and myself, and at the end of the third round, when Willie was three strokes to the good, it seemed a very likely victory for him. In the last round I was playing a hole in front of him, and we were watching each other as cats watch mice the whole way round the links. I made a reckoning when we reached the turn that I had wiped out the three strokes deficit, and could now discuss the remainder of the game with Park without any sense of inferiority. I finished very steadily, and when Park stood on the last tee just as I had holed out, he was left to get a 3 at this eighteenth hole to tie. His drive was a beauty, and plop came the ball down to the corner of the green, making the 3 seem a certainty. An immense crowd pressed round the green to see these fateful putts, and in the excitement of the moment, I, the next most concerned man to Park himself, was elbowed out. I just saw his long putt roll up to within about a yard of the hole, which was much too dead for my liking. Then, while Park proceeded to carry out his ideas of accomplishing a certainty, I stood at the edge of the crowd, seeing nothing and feeling the most nervous and miserable man alive. Never while playing have I felt so uncomfortable as during those two or three minutes. After what seemed an eternity there rose from all round the ring one long disappointed "O-o-o-h!" I didn't stop to look at the ball, which was still outside the hole. I knew that I had won the Championship again, and so I hastened light-heartedly away. I must admit that Park was playing an exceedingly fine game at that time, and it was only the fact that I was probably playing as well as ever I did in my life that enabled me to get the better of him. The day after winning the Championship I gained the first prize in a tournament at the adjoining course of St. Nicholas, and thereafter I frequently took part in competitions, winning much more often than not.

But the most important event, and the biggest match I ever had with anyone, was my engagement with Willie Park, who, not altogether satisfied at having missed the Championship by a putt, challenged me to play him home and home matches, thirty-six holes each time, for L100 a side. There was some difficulty in arranging final details, but eventually we agreed to play at North Berwick and Ganton, North Berwick first. I have never seen such a golfing crowd as there was at North Berwick the day we played there. All golfing Scotland seemed to be in attendance, and goodness knows how many people would have been watching the play if it had not happened that the lukewarm golfers went instead to Edinburgh to see the Prince of Wales, who was visiting the capital that day. As it was, there were fully seven thousand people on the links, and yet this huge crowd—surely one of the very biggest that have ever watched a golf match—was perfectly managed, and never in the least interfered with a single stroke made by either Park or myself. The arrangements, indeed, were admirable. In order to keep the crowd informed of the state of the game at each hole, two flags were made, one being white with a red "P" on it, and the other red with a "V" worked on in white. When Park won a hole the flag with his initial was hoisted, and the "V" was sent up when I won a hole, both flags being waved when it was a half. At each teeing ground a rope three hundred yards long was stretched, and fourteen constables and a like number of honorary officials took control of it. In order to prevent any inconvenience at the dyke on the course, a boarding, forty feet wide and fifty yards out of the line from the tee to the hole, was erected, so that the crowd could walk right over. Mr. C.C. Broadwood, the Ganton captain, acted as my referee, and Lieutenant "Freddy" Tait served in the same capacity on behalf of Park. One of the most laborious tasks was that undertaken by the two Messrs. Hunter, who acted as forecaddies, and did their work splendidly. In two practice rounds that I played before the great encounter opened I did 76 each time, and I felt very fit when we teed up on the eventful morning. And I played very steadily, too, though my putting was sometimes a little erratic, and Park is one of the greatest putters who have ever lived. The early part of the game was very extraordinary in that the first ten holes were halved in 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4. Then Park drew first blood, but in the end I finished two up on the day's play. When Park came to Ganton three weeks later, I beat him on the two matches by 11 up with 10 to play. Naturally he was disappointed, but he was very sportsmanlike. He was acknowledged to be the greatest match-player of his time. I do not care for myself to lay any more stress on the importance of this match, or of the value of my own achievement; but those who have taken up golf quite lately can have no conception of the stir that it caused. It was the event of my lifetime.

The remembrance of this encounter brings forward the question of big money matches generally, which several people have declared they would like to see renewed. Fifty years ago they were common enough, and there are great stories told of foursomes between Allan Robertson and Tom Morris on the one side and the brothers Dunn on the other for a stake of L400, and so on. The sightseers of golf ask why there are no such matches now. I think it is because golf professionals have to work too hard for the money they earn, and they do not care for the idea of throwing it away again on a single match. They do not receive large "benefits" or gate money, as do professionals in other branches of sport. So they deem it best to be careful of their savings. Besides, such matches tend to create bad feeling among the players, and we professionals are such a happy family that we distrust any scheme with such a tendency. Moreover, golf at the present time is a delightfully pure game, so far as gambling is concerned—purer than most others—and such matches would very likely encourage the gambling idea. That would be a misfortune. I contend that after all, for the best and fairest and most interesting trial of strength there is nothing like a good tournament where each player has to test himself against all comers. Every man plays to win, the golf is generally good, and what more is wanted?

When I won the Championship again in the following year at Sandwich, my success was chiefly due to my brassy play, which was better than it ever was before or has been since. From my brassy strokes the ball was often enough laid dead near the hole; certainly my second shots were always the winning shots. The game seemed very easy to me then, and I gained the Championship for the third time with less difficulty than on either of the two previous occasions. In 1900 I made a long tour in America, and won the American Championship. Concerning these events I desire to write at some length in a later chapter. The greatest success which I have ever achieved in face of difficulties was when I again became Open Champion at Prestwick in 1903. For some time beforehand I had been feeling exceedingly unwell, and, as it appeared shortly afterwards, there was serious trouble brewing. During the play for the Championship I was not at all myself, and while I was making the last round I was repeatedly so faint that I thought it would be impossible for me to finish. However, when I holed my last putt I knew that I had won. My brother Tom was runner-up, six strokes behind, and, glad as I was of the distinction of having equalled the record of the two Morrises in having won the Championship four times, I could have wished, and did wish, that Tom had been the victor. In all the circumstances I was very much surprised that I did so well. The last day's work was an enormous strain, yet on the following day I played in a tournament at Irvine, won the first prize, and broke the record of the course. It is wonderful what golf can be played when one's mind is given to the task, whatever the adverse factors in the case may be.

However, these are the events of recent golfing history, and I have no desire to inflict upon my readers a narrative of any more of them. As nearly as I can reckon, I have up to date won the first prize in forty-eight first-class tournaments, and by being four times British Open Champion and once American have still that record to my credit. And I hope to play many of my best games in the future, for it takes longer to kill the golf in a man than it does to breed it.



The mistakes of the beginner—Too eager to play a round—Despair that follows—A settling down to mediocrity—All men may excel—The sorrows of a foozler—My advice—Three months' practice to begin with—The makings of a player—Good golf is best—How Mr. Balfour learned the game—A wise example—Go to the professional—The importance of beginning well—Practise with each club separately—Driver, brassy, cleek, iron, mashie, and putter—Into the hole at last—Master of a bag of clubs—The first match—How long drives are made—Why few good players are coming on—Golf is learned too casually.

There are different ways of learning to play the great game of golf, each of which enjoys its share of patronage. Here as elsewhere, there are, of course, the two broad divisions into which the methods of doing all things are in the first instance classed—the right way and the wrong way—and, generally speaking, the wrong way has proved the more popular and is accountable for much of the very bad golf that one sees almost every day upon the links. There are two mistakes to which the beginner is much addicted, and to them is due the unhappy circumstance that in so many cases he never gets his club handicap down to single figures. Before he has ever played golf in his life, but at that interesting period when he has made up his mind to do so, and has bought his first set of clubs, he is still inclined to make the same error that is made by so many people who know nothing of the game, and loftily remark that they do not want to know anything—that it is too absurdly simple to demand serious thought or attention, and can surely need no special pains in learning to play. Is not the ball quite still on the tee before you, and all that is necessary being to hit it, surely the rest is but a question of strength and accuracy of aim? Well, we need not waste time in discussing the opinions of the scoffers outside, or in submitting that there never was a game less easy to learn than golf. But the man who has been converted to golf most frequently has a vestige of this superstition of his heathen days lingering with him, and thus at the outset he is not inclined to waste any time, as he would say, in tuition, particularly as it happens that these new converts when quite fresh are invariably most delightfully enthusiastic. They have promised themselves a new sensation, and they are eager to get on to the links and see how much further than the two hundred yards that they have heard about they can drive at the first attempt or two. Then comes the inevitable disappointment, the despair, the inclination to give it up, and finally the utter abject despondency which represents the most miserable state on earth of the golfer, in which he must be closely watched lest he should commit murder upon the beautiful set of clubs of which at the beginning he was so proud, and which he spent his evenings in brightening to the degree that they resembled the family plate. Then after this passage through purgatory come the first gleams of hope, when two holes in succession have been done in only one over bogey, and a 24 handicap man has actually been beaten by 3 up and 2 to play—a conquest which, if it is the first one, is rarely forgotten in the golfer's lifetime. After that there is a steady settling down to mediocrity. There is afterwards only an occasional fit of despair, the game is for the most part thoroughly enjoyed, there are times when, after a round in which driving and putting have been rather better than usual, the golfer encourages himself over his cup of tea with the fancy that after all he may some day win a medal and become a senior; but in the main the conviction forces itself upon him that it is impossible that he can ever become a really fine player. He argues that this is not at all his own fault. He points out to himself that circumstances are too strong for him. He considers that he is not very young—at least not so young as many of the experts of his club who have been golfing ever since they were boys. His limbs have not that suppleness which makes the scratch player. His eye is not so keen as theirs. Besides, he is a business man who has to give up so much of his time to the earning of his daily bread that it is impossible he should ever devote himself to the game with that single-mindedness which alone can ensure proficiency. He must take himself as he finds himself, and be satisfied with his 18 handicap. These are the somewhat pathetic excuses that he makes in this mood of resignation. Of course he is wrong—wrong from the beginning to the end—but there is little satisfaction in that for the earnest lover of the game who would see all men excel, and who knows only too well that this failure is but a specimen of hundreds of his kind—good golfing lives thrown away, so to speak. If a man is not a cripple, if he suffers from no physical defect, there is no reason why he should not learn to play a good game of golf if he goes about it in the right way. There is indeed a one-armed golfer who plays a very fair game, and one may admit all these things without in any way suggesting that golf is not a game for the muscles and the nerves and all the best physical qualities of a well-grown man. No great amount of brute force is necessary, and fleetness of foot, which men lose as they grow old, is never wanted; but still golf is a game for manly men, and when they take it up they should strive to play it as it deserves to be played.

Now I know what severe temptation there will be to all beginners to disregard the advice that I am about to offer them; but before proceeding any further I will invite them to take the opinion of any old golfer who, chiefly through a careless beginning (he knows that this is the cause), has missed his way in the golfer's life, and is still plodding away as near the limit handicap as he was at the beginning. The beginner may perhaps be disposed to rely more upon the statement of this man of experience and disappointment than on that of the professional, who is too often suspected of having his own ends in view whenever he gives advice. Let the simple question be put to him whether, if he could be given the chance of doing it all over again from the beginning, he would not sacrifice the first three or six months of play to diligent study of the principles of the game, and the obtaining of some sort of mastery over each individual shot under the careful guidance of a skilled tutor, not attempting during this time a single complete round with all his clubs in action, and refusing all temptations to play a single match—whether he would not undergo this slow and perhaps somewhat tedious period of learning if he could be almost certain of being able at the end of it to play a really good game of golf, and now at this later period of his career to have a handicap much nearer the scratch mark than his existing one is to the border-line between the senior and the junior? I am confident that in the great majority of cases, looking back on his misspent golfing youth, he would answer that he would cheerfully do all this learning if he could begin again at the beginning. Now, of course, it is too late, for what is once learned can only with extreme difficulty be unlearned, and it is almost impossible to reform the bad style and the bad habits which have taken root and been cultivated in the course of many years; and if it were possible it would be far more difficult than it would have been to learn the game properly at the beginning.

My earnest advice to the beginner is to undergo this slow process of tuition for nothing less than three months, and preferably more. It is a very long time, I know, and it may seem painfully tedious work, simply knocking a ball backwards and forwards for all those months; but if he does not accept my suggestion he will have harder things to try his patience during many years afterwards, while, if he takes my advice, he may be down very near to scratch at the end of his first year, and he will be very thankful that he spent the period of probation as he did. He will constantly be giving a half to players who have been playing for more years than he has months, and he will be holding his own in the very best golfing company. He will be getting the finest delight out of the game that it is possible to get. It is said that the long handicap man gets as much pleasure out of the game as the short handicap man. As the former has never been a short handicap man he is evidently not qualified to judge. The scratch man, who has been through it all, would never change his scratch play for that of his old long-handicap days—at least I have never yet met the scratch man who would. No doubt the noble army of foozlers derive an immense amount of enjoyment from the practice of their game, and it is my earnest prayer that they may long continue to do so. It is one of the glorious advantages of golf that all, the skilled and the unskilled, can revel in its fascinations and mysteries; but there is no golfing delight so splendid as that which is obtained from playing the perfect game, or one which nearly approaches it. The next best thing to it is playing what one knows to be an improving game, however bad, and the golfer whose play has been incorrectly established has not often even the knowledge that his game is improving. He declares more often than not that it gets worse, and one is frequently inclined to believe him.

Now the middle-aged man may say that he is too old to go in for this sort of thing, that all he wants is a little fresh air and exercise, and as much enjoyment as he can get out of playing the game in just the same sort of way that the "other old crocks" do. He would rather play well, of course, if it were not too late to begin; but it is too late, and there is an end of it. That is the way in which he puts it. So large a proportion of our new converts to golf belong to this middle-aged class, that it is worth while giving a few special words of advice to them. Mr. Forty and Mr. Forty-Five, you are not a day too old, and I might even make scratch men of you, if I were to take you in hand and you did all the things I told you to do and for as long as I told you. Given fair circumstances, there is no reason why any man should despair of becoming either a scratch player or one who is somewhere very near it, and it is as easy to learn to play well as it is to learn to play badly.

So I advise every golfer to get hold of the game stroke by stroke, and never be too ambitious at the commencement. I have heard it stated on very good authority that when Mr. Balfour first began to play he submitted himself to very much the same process of tuition as that which I am about to advise, and that under the guidance of Tom Dunn he actually spent a miserable fortnight in bunkers only, learning how to get out of them from every possible position. The right honourable gentleman must have saved hundreds of strokes since then as the result of that splendid experience, trying as it must have been. He is in these days a very good and steady player, and he might be still better if parliamentary cares did not weigh so heavily upon him. I may humbly suggest that the way in which he began to play golf was characteristic of his wisdom.

Therefore, when the golfer has become possessed of his first set of clubs, let him proceed to the shop of a good professional player—presumably it will be the shop where he bought his clubs—and let him place himself unreservedly in the hands of this expert in the game. Most professionals are good players and good teachers, and the golfer cannot go far wrong in this matter if he allows himself to be guided by his own instincts. I say that he should place himself unreservedly in this man's hands; but in case it should be necessary I would make one exception to this stipulation. If he thinks well of my advice and desires to do the thing with the utmost thoroughness from the beginning, he may request that for the first lesson or two no ball may be put upon the ground at which to practise swings. The professional is sure to agree that this is the best way, though he encounters so few beginners who are prepared to make all the sacrifices that I have suggested, that he might have hesitated in recommending this course of procedure himself.

A golfer's swing is often made for good or ill in the first week of his experience. His first two days of practice may be of the greatest importance in fashioning his style. If, when he takes his first lesson or two and makes his first few swings, he has a ball on the ground before him which he is trying to hit, all his thoughts will be concentrated on what appears to him to be the necessity of hitting it—hitting it at any cost. No matter what he has been told about the way to swing, he will forget it all in this moment of anxiety, and swing anyhow. In such circumstances a really natural and proper swing is rarely accomplished, and, before the golfer is aware of the frightful injustice he has done himself, his future prospects will probably have been damaged. But if he has no ball before him he will surely learn to swing his club in exactly the way in which it ought to be swung. His whole mind will be concentrated upon getting every detail of the action properly regulated and fixed according to the advice of his tutor, and by the time he has had two lessons in this way he will have got so thoroughly into the natural swing, that when he comes to have a ball teed up in front of him he will unconsciously swing at it in the same manner as he did when it was absent, or nearly so. The natural swing, or some of its best features, will probably be there, although very likely they will be considerably distorted.

At the same time the young golfer must not imagine because he has mastered the proper swing when there is no ball before him, that he has overcome any considerable portion of the difficulties of golf, for even some of the very best players find that they can swing very much better without a ball than with one. However, he may now taste the sweet pleasure of driving a ball from the tee, or of doing his best with that object in view. His initial attempts may not be brilliant; it is more than likely that they will be sadly disappointing. He may take comfort from the fact that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they are so. But by and by a certain confidence will come, he will cease, under the wise advice of his tutor, to be so desperately anxious to hit the ball anyhow so long as he hits it, and then in due course the correctness of swing which he was taught in his first two days will assert itself, and the good clean-hit drives will come. There will be duffings and toppings and slicings, but one day there will be a long straight drive right away down the course, and the tyro will be told that the professional himself could not have done it better. This is one of the most pleasurable moments in life.

His system of practice thereafter should be upon the following lines. He should continue to practise diligently with his driver until he gets these good, long balls nearly every time, sternly resisting the temptation even to so much as look at any of the other nice new clubs that he has got in his bag, and whose mysteries he is exceedingly curious to investigate. It may take him a week or a fortnight or a month to master the driver; but he should do it before he gives a thought to any other club. When he can use the driver with confidence, he may take out his new brassy and go through the same process with that, until he feels that on a majority of occasions, from a fairly decent lie, he could depend upon making a respectable brassy shot. He will find unsuspected difficulties in the brassy, and in doing his best to overcome them he will probably lose to some extent the facility for driving which he had acquired. Therefore, when he has become a player with his brassy, he should devote a short space of time to getting back on to his drive. It will not take him long, and then he should take out both the clubs he has been practising with and hammer away at the two of them together, until after a large amount of extra practice he finds that he is fairly reliable in driving a ball from the tee to begin with, and putting in a creditable second shot with his brassy from the lie upon which he found his ball.

During this second stage of learning he must deny himself the pleasure of trying his iron clubs just as rigorously as he restrained himself from the brassy when he was practising drives only; but when the driver and the brassy are doing well, he may go forward with the cleek. He will not find this learning such dull work after all. There will be something new in store for him every week, and each new club as it is taken out of the bag will afford an entirely new set of experiences. After the driver and the brassy it will be like a new game when he comes to try cleek shots, and in the same way he will persevere with the cleek until it is evident that he really knows how to use it. The driver, the brassy, and the cleek may then be practised with on the same occasion, and if he has made the best use of his time and is an apt pupil, he will find himself now and then, with these three shots taken in turn, getting beyond the green at some of the longest holes. Next it will be the turn of the iron, and so in due season he will be able to practise with the driver, the brassy, the cleek, and the iron. The mashie will follow, and then the five of them together, and at last he may have an afternoon on the green trying his skill with a putter, and listening for the first time to the music of the ball—no such music as this to the golfer's ear, though it consists of but a single note—as it drops into the tin and is holed out at last.

He is at work now with all the clubs that are usually necessary to play a hole; but at the risk of seeming over careful I would warn him once more against going along too fast, and thinking that even at this stage he is able to embark on match play with all the days of studentship left behind. When he takes out his full set of clubs, he will find, in using them as occasion demands, that he is strangely erratic all of a sudden with one or two of them. Let him have half an hour's practice once more alone with these troublesome fellows until the old order of things has been restored. Let him treat all other offenders in the same manner. He must be determined that there shall not be a club in his bag that shall be allowed to play these tricks with him. Let one day's hard labour be the invariable penalty, until at last they are all obedient in his hands, and the joyful day comes when he feels that he can pick any tool out of his golfing bag and use it skilfully and well, and that after examining a ball in any lie, at any distance from the hole, or with any hazard before him, he knows exactly how it should be played, and feels that he has a very reasonable chance of playing it in that way and achieving the success that such a shot deserves. Such a stroke will not be brought off correctly every time; the golfer has not yet been born who always does the right thing in the right way. But the more one practises the more frequently will he succeed. Following Mr. Balfour's good example, the beginner may do worse than spend a few days trying the most difficult strokes he can discover on his links, for in actual play he will find himself in these difficult places often enough to begin with, and a little special study of such shots at the outset will prove a very valuable investment of time. The ball should be thrown down carelessly at different places, and should be played from the spot at which it settles, however uninviting that spot may be.

When he has secured a fair command over all his clubs, from the driver to the niblick, the golf student may play a round of the links; but he should do so only under the watchful eye of the professional, for he will find that in thus marching on from hole to hole, and perhaps getting a little excited now and then when he plays a hole more than usually well, it is only too easy to forget all the good methods in which he has been so carefully trained, and all the wise maxims he knows so well by heart that he could almost utter them in his sleep. Let him play a few rounds in this way, and in between them devote himself as assiduously as ever to practise with individual clubs, before he thinks of playing his first match. He must settle his game on a secure foundation before he measures his strength against an opponent, for unless it is thus safeguarded it is all too likely that it will crumble to ruins when the enemy is going strongly, and the novice feels, with a sense of dismay, that he is not by any means doing himself justice. Of course I am not suggesting that he should wait until he has advanced far towards perfection before he engages in his first match. When he has thoroughly grasped the principles and practice of the game, there is nothing like match play for proving his quality, but he should not be in haste thus to indulge himself. Any time from three to six months from the day when he first took a club in hand will be quite soon enough, and if he has been a careful student, and is in his first match not overcome with nerves, he should render a good account of himself and bring astonishment to the mind of his adversary when the latter is told that this is the first match of a lifetime.

During the preparatory period the golfer will be wise to limit his practices to three or four days a week. More than this will only tire him and will not be good for his game. I have only now to warn him against a constant attempt, natural but very harmful, to drive a much longer ball every time than was driven at the previous stroke. He must bring himself to understand that length comes only with experience, and that it is due to the swing becoming gradually more natural and more certain. He may see players on the links driving thirty or forty yards further than he has ever driven, and, wondering why, he is seized with a determination to hit harder, and then the old, old story of the foozled drive is told again. He forgets that these players are more experienced than he is, that their swing is more natural to them, and that they are more certain of it. In these circumstances the extra power which they put into their stroke is natural also. To give him an exact idea of what it is that he ought to be well satisfied with, I may say that the learner who finds that he is putting just two or three yards on to his drive every second week, may cease to worry about the future, for as surely as anything he will be a long driver in good time.

In the course of this volume there are several chapters describing the way in which the various strokes should be played, but I am no believer in learning golf from books alone. I do not think it likely that the professional teacher who is giving the pupil lessons will disagree with any of the chief points of the methods that I explain, and, read in conjunction with his frequent lessons at the beginning of his golfing career, and later on studied perhaps a little more closely and critically, I have hope that they will prove beneficial. At all events, as I have already suggested, in the following pages I teach the system which has won Championships for me, and I teach that system only.

It is perhaps too much to hope, after all, that any very large proportion of my readers will make up their minds to the self-sacrificing thoroughness which I have advocated, and undertake a careful preparation of from three to six months' duration before really attempting to play golf. If they all did so we should have some fine new players. It is because they do not learn to play in this way that so few good players are coming to the fore in these days. One is sometimes inclined to think that no new golfer of the first class has come forward during the last few years. In my opinion it is all due to the fact that nowadays they learn their game too casually.



Difficulties of choice—A long search for the best—Experiments with more than a hundred irons—Buy few clubs to begin with—Take the professional's advice—A preliminary set of six—Points of the driver—Scared wooden clubs are best—Disadvantages of the socket—Fancy faces—Short heads—Whip in the shaft—The question of weight—Match the brassy with the driver—Reserve clubs—Kinds of cleeks—Irons and mashies—The niblick—The putting problem—It is the man who putts and not the putter—Recent inventions—Short shafts for all clubs—Lengths and weights of those I use—Be careful of your clubs—Hints for preserving them.

The good golfer loves his clubs and takes a great and justifiable pride in them. He has many reasons for doing so. Golf clubs are not like most other implements that are used in sport. A man may go to a shop and pick out a cricket bat or a billiard cue with which he may be tolerably certain he will be able to play something approaching to his best game when he is in the mood for playing it. The acquaintance which is begun in the shop is complete a few days later. But a man may see a golf club which he strongly fancies and buy it, and yet find himself utterly incapable of using it to good advantage. He may purchase club after club, and still feel that there is something wanting in all of them, something which he cannot define but which he knows ought to exist if his own peculiar style of play is to be perfectly suited. Until he finds this club he is groping in the dark. One driver may be very much like another, and even to the practised eye two irons may be exactly similar; but with one the golfer may do himself justice, and with the other court constant failure. Therefore, the acquisition of a set of clubs, each one of which enjoys the complete confidence of its owner, is not the task of a week or even a year. There are some golfers who do not accomplish it in many years, and happy are they when at last they have done so. Then they have a very sincere attachment to each one of these instruments, that have been selected with so much difficulty. It is not always possible to give reasons for their excellence, for the subtle qualities of the clubs are not visible to the naked eye. Their owners only know that at last they have found the clubs that are the best for them, and that they will not part with them for any money—that is, if they are golfers of the true breed. In these days I always play with the same set of irons. They are of different makes, and to the average golfer they appear quite ordinary irons and very much like others of their class. But they are the results of trials and tests of more than one hundred clubs.

Therefore no golfer in his early days should run away with the idea that he is going to suit himself entirely with a set of clubs without much delay, and though his purse may be a small one, I feel obliged to suggest that money spent in the purchase of new clubs which he strongly fancies, during his first few years of play, is seldom wasted. Many of the new acquisitions may be condemned after a very short trial; but occasionally it will happen that a veritable treasure is discovered in this haphazard manner. With all these possibilities in view, the beginner, knowing nothing of golf, and being as yet without a style to suit or any peculiar tastes that have to be gratified, should restrain himself from the desire to be fully equipped with a "complete outfit" at the very beginning of his career. Let him buy as few clubs as possible, knowing that it is quite likely that not one of those which he purchases at this stage will hold a place in his bag a year or two later. As he can have no ideas at all upon the subject, he should leave the entire selection of his first bag to some competent adviser, and he will not generally find such an adviser behind the counter at a general athletic outfitting establishment in the town or city, which too often is the direction in which he takes his steps when he has decided to play the game. In these stores the old and practised golfer may often pick up a good club at a trifling cost; but the beginner would be more likely to furnish himself with a set which would be poor in themselves and quite unsuited for his purpose.

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