I really believe that the time spent in trying to copy any one’s style or in any way trying to play imitatively is wasted. To be coached by a professional will sometimes help in calling attention to a fault which the player has unconsciously developed and to have him furnish suggestions which may tend to make the playing of certain shots easier I think is a good idea. In such cases go only to a first-rate player, and instead of having him stand by and watch you try to develop a swing or cultivate form in sixty minutes, get him to show you the principles or explain the less obvious shots such as playing out of long grass, sand, mud, and water.
There is a knack about playing shots of this kind which it would take endless time to learn without help or a suggestion from some one who understands them.
In the case of young folks in their teens I consider that they have the imitative faculty so strong that if a really fine professional takes hold of them when they start he will make golfers of them. For the average person, however, I doubt if anything but playing the game itself will ever be of advantage. No two people will ever swing at a ball in the same way. Each one develops a different set of muscles, due to his environment, and a method of playing golf used by one man who has developed one set of muscles and is naturally strong in them world be of no value to another player who has not developed that set.
Golf is essentially individual; let any one hit on a method of playing that will produce results and become sufficiently skilful, immediately a new school is started.
The first step of all is to decide just what you want to do and refuse to be persuaded to change your method every time you find yourself off your game. Much confusion arises in the mind of a beginner from the endless list of instruction regarding the grip of the hands, the position of the feet, the position of the ball, and the style and weight of clubs, length of shafts, keeping the eye on the ball, following through, and what not. I have tried conscientiously to think of six or eight things at once in endeavoring to play a shot, and it cannot be done. It requires intense concentration for just an instant in golf to make a stroke successfully, and the thing to do is to determine just what you must concentrate on and stick to that.
As any part of the stroke, no matter whether it is the grip of the hands, the turn of the wrists, or any of the details which compose a swing, is rendered of no value if the player loses his balance in the delivery of the stroke, I think no one can gainsay that balance or equilibrium, or center of gravity (call it what you will), is the more important. A stroke may be partly saved by a heroic effort sometimes, but no properly played stroke is ever made when the balance is not maintained throughout the swing.