One of the putting problems which strike most fear into the heart of the golfer is when his line from the ball to the hole runs straight down a steep slope, and there is some considerable distance for the ball to travel along a fast green.
The difficulty in such a case is to preserve any control over the ball after it has left the club, and to make it stop anywhere near the hole if the green is really so fast and steep as almost to impart motion of itself. In a case of this sort I think it generally pays best to hit the ball very nearly upon the toe of the putter, at the same time making a short quick twitch or draw of the club across the ball towards the feet. Little forward motion will be imparted in this manner, but there will be a tendency to half lift the ball from the green at the beginning of its journey, and it will continue its way to the hole with a lot of drag upon it.
It is obvious that this stroke, to be played properly, will need much practice in the first place and judgment afterwards, and I can do little more than state the principle upon which it should be made. But oftentimes, when the slope of the green is really considerable, and one experiences a sense of great risk and danger in using the putter at all, I strongly advise the use of the iron or mashie; indeed, I think most golfers chain themselves down too much to the idea that the putter, being the proper thing to putt with, no other club should be used on the green. There is no law to enforce the use of the putter, but even when the idea sometimes occurs to a player that it would be best to use his mashie on the green in particular circumstances, he usually rejects it as improper.
On a steep incline it pays very well to use a mashie, for length in these circumstances can often be judged very accurately, and, the ball having been given its little pitch to begin with, does not then begin to roll along nearly so quickly as if the putter had been acting upon it. There are times, even when the hole is only a yard away, when it might pay best to ask for the mashie instead of the instrument which the caddie will offer.
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