Perhaps one of the most important shots which the mid-iron is called upon to play is when the ball is lying in long grass, from four to eight inches tall, and when it is not too heavy with clover or too thick and matted; that, for instance, which is most common upon our average american course it is an absolute fluke in the majority of cases when the beginner manages to get his ball out at all with his mid-iron played in the ordinary manner.
Played as though the ball was lying on the fair green, where you can get at it, and this is the usual way the shot is played, you have no chance, for a great number of reasons. In the first place, the eye unconsciously guides the club too high in order not to hit the surface of the ground, which it sees in the form of grass much higher than the ball.
It is presumed, of course, that the player is looking at his ball in a general way, because he is endeavoring to get it out of the grass. If the club does get down to the ball it cannot be struck with the face, because there is three-quarters of an inch of grass between the ball and it, and because the grass is actually being folded over the ball and preventing its rise.
Besides this, the club face being brought straight down through the grass offers its full width to the resistance. Furthermore the angle at which the shaft of the club is going through enables the grass to wind itself around the shank of the club, twisting it in the bands, no matter how strong the grip. This turns the face of the club in still more and absolutely kills any chance of getting the ball out. The result of this scheme of play is that the ball jumps ahead a yard or two and the operation is continued. The same result often happens almost to the same degree with the mashie.
Naturally the common sense of the player will convince him after a few trials that he has not a chance of getting much power to the ball with the club head attempting to pull up all the grass by the roots which it meets on its sweep along the ground. But he need not despair. There is a way, and a very practicable way, of playing the mid-iron out of rough.
In the first place, if you will make the experiment of hitting down on the grass in a perpendicular direction you will find that it offers little no resistance to the club. If you will swing through the grass with the face of the club dragging behind the shank, parallel with the direction the club is traveling, you will find that the club will plough through pretty easily.
These two facts should indicate that if there is to be much , power and speed carried to the ball the blow must be a combination of these two factors; that is, the predominating effort must be to strike the grass in a direction that will meet with the least resistance, and that is downward, and not forward.