It is the player’s swing which should govern his stance and not the stance the swing. You can and do change your stance every time you strike a side hill or down slope or any of the hundred varieties of lies on the course, but the swing should not be tampered with lightly.
When I find an awkward shot to be played I first satisfy myself as to how I can swing without losing my balance and moving my head; then I note the line my club travels along and walk up to my ball, knowing what to expect.
As the club head is in contact with the ball for several inches of its arc, it is important that the ball should be first met at a little distance, say a couple of inches, before the club has reached the lowest point in its sweep, because the ball will stay against the club head from that point in a partially collapsed condition, and the full force of the blow will be exerted at a time when the club is traveling more nearly parallel with the ground.
The ball will be less likely to rise beyond the line at right angles to the face of the club. The thing to observe before assuming the stance is where the club head will travel for the greatest distance along a straight line in whatever swing you have perfected; then remember that the ball is in contact with the club head for several inches, and after a few trial swings you can see what relation your feet have with regard to that line. This will determine your stance.
My practice in the address is to keep the hands to the left of a line directly between the eyes and the ball in order to obtain:
- A clearer view of the ball
- An easier position to start my club away from the ball
- To obtain a more comfortable position when holding my left arm well extended or straightened, not outward but down, because it is easier to maintain the balance when the arms do not reach out so far and gives greater freedom and flexibility
- In order to keep my weight on the flat of my feet, which makes it easier to control the swaying of the body than when reaching out with the arms and throwing the weight on the ball of the foot
- Keeping the left arm down also keeps my left shoulder down, and gives me a more comfortable position when I get to the top of my swing
- It prevents my stopping my hands when I come down at the ball but fixes in my mind the maintenance of the application of power until my ball leaves the club
- Because when my ball leaves the club head after having been in contact with it for several inches of its sweep, my club face is at exact right angles and my hands1 and the club shaft are at perfect right angles to the desired line of flight
- Because when the ball leaves the club at that point the momentum still being imparted to the club head draws the right arm out after the ball and the finish of the stroke takes care of itself without my giving thought to it and enables me to finish without any tendency to lose my balance
- It makes me turn my wrists with the right hand over the left, and makes it impossible to get the ball away at all if I turn the right hand under the left with the face of the club up, which is so productive of slicing.