I was lucky to discover a reprint of an old golf book, The Soul of Golf, by P. A. Vaile, published in 1912 (available on Amazon.com) – what an interesting read! Even back in the days of hickory shafts, golfers were seemingly obsessed with improving their games and studying books filled with suggestions and philosophies. Chapter headings include The Soul of Golf, The Mystery of Golf, Putting, The Fallacies of Golf, The Distribution of Weight, The Power of the Left, The Function of the Eyes, The Master Stroke, The Action of the Wrists, The Flight of the Golf Ball, The Golf Ball, The Construction of Clubs, and The Literature of Golf. See if the following sounds somewhat familiar:
“It will be readily understood by those who have followed me that I consider that golf has been badly served by those who have essayed to teach it by books. The main, if not indeed the whole, cause of the trouble is the manner in which writer after writer has allowed himself to be influenced by the work of those who have preceded him. This is neither amusing nor instructive. The essence of progress is research. We cannot progress in anything by repeating parrot-like the fallacies of those who have preceded us.
I want to make it particularly plain that this book aims at absolutely dispelling the fog and mist, the obscurity and the falseness which now clusters about the game of golf. One dear old chap was explaining to me how he tries to drive. He said ‘When I get to the top of the swing I have so many things to remember that I get all of a dither and mess it up hopelessly.’ Could anyone express it better?
About seventy-five per cent of the golfers who follow the usual tuition are ‘all of a dither.’ The whole trouble is that they are given too much to think of during the stroke. I am certain that the secret of success in golf is to eliminate the necessity of thinking and theorizing on the links. This, I contend, can be done by knowing, not merely reading, the contents of this book.”
This is merely one example of an intriguing compilation of thoughts, beliefs, philosophies, opinions, and suggestions contained in this almost-100-year-old book. Should you decide to peruse this tome, please be aware that the equipment used in 1912 is significantly different from today’s, and, therefore, some information may be presented which directly contradicts modern-day instruction. Happy reading!
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