In the first lesson of this series, taken from the forthcoming book "A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour" (to be published this month by Simon and Schuster, $3.50), Tommy persuaded a mediocre golfer named Bill who had just given up golf to try one final round. He told Bill that the real reason he was so bad was that he wouldn't think on a golf course and suggested that they make up a foursome with two other players, Ed and Jim, in the course of which Bill would play his shots but Armour would think for him. Bill agreed, and under Tommy's coaching managed to get a 5 on the first hole. Tommy suggested that he play the second without advice and try to bring into play what he had learned on the first. Bill got off a nice drive but with enough of a hook to leave him in the short rough to the left, about 160 yards from the green.
The target for the shot was narrow. Unless Bill hit a shot that he could make about once in five tries he didn't have a chance of knocking the ball between the bunkers and onto the green.
He lost his concentration—his capacity to regard the situation thoughtfully and make the right decision. Deceived into a hasty move by an easy-looking lie, he took out a three-wood and stepped up to the ball.
Then he did what he probably had been doing often during the rounds that had disgusted him with his golf.
Instead of making a swing he heaved himself at the ball.
"Heave" is one of the ugliest words in golf. Maybe you think "shank," or its synonym "socket," is the most revolting word. "Heave" is worse. It is what the average golfer does so often that he makes the game much more work than the Scots intended it to be.
I am an American who really knows the Scots, having been born one of them. The Scotch accent on thrift applies more to abhorrence of unnecessary effort than to pain at loose spending of money. This certainly isn't because a Scot has any laziness in his blood; it is because making a living in the lean and holy land of Scotia and fishing off its shores is hard enough labor at its easiest. It is nothing to encourage making work of a game.
A definition of "heave" in the dictionary to which I have turned is "lift and throw." That's exactly what Bill did. He lifted himself until he slanted like the leaning tower of Pisa at the top of his backswing. There he tottered, hopelessly out of balance, after which he threw himself at the ball in a frantic, futile manner.
The club, held so tightly that all Bill could do with it was make a stiffarmed poke, dug into the grass under the ball and the shot turned out to be a high pop fly to the left and farther into the rough.
Like so many unthinking golfers, Bill had made the primary mistake of using the wrong club for the shot. He should have taken a four- or five- wood and settled wisely for smacking the ball up and out of the rough with an easy shot short of the green. This would have put him in a safe spot from which he would have had a decent chance to get close enough to the hole for one putt and his par 4.