Some years ago I was playing in a four-ball golf match with George "Theory" Duncan, my brother Aubrey, and Mr. E. Esmond.
We were discussing a shot that Aubrey had just played and Mr.Esmond said to George, "You know Percy was a schoolmaster at one time." George looked at me with his peculiar grin and said, "I thought so he plays like one!"
He was quite right, although it is not because of my early school-teaching that my game looks as calculated and considered as it does. The fact is that although I learned to play golf in Jersey as soon as I could walk and Harry Vardon was my boyhood hero, I was not what is known as a natural golfer.
There is nothing natural about my game. Everything I have ever done in golf I had to learn to do.
Maybe having to teach myself was not a bad preparation for my future work of teaching others.
As a boy I was just a plodder, but I stuck to it and before I took my first professional job I was a good three handicap amateur and held the amateur record of Le Moye with a golf score of 78.
I went back there a few years ago and did an approximate 64 in a four-ball matchnearly a stroke a hole better as a result of twenty-five years' hard work and study. But most likely the more valuable gain was in the matter of consistency and in being able to play my best when I needed to play my best.
Do not think that this consistency and control "come naturally" to a professional. Far from it. My first shot as a Pro was at Meyrick Park, Bournemouth and I topped it!
Indeed the whole time I was with the Bournemouth Club I hardly hit a single really clean shot from that tee.
The very fact that my living depended upon my golf made a shot which as an amateur I should have found easy enough, one of almost insuperable difficulty. Keep that in mind please, and so remember that when I talk of golfing "nerves" I have had practical experience.
It was almost certainly due to my father's influence that when I set out seriously to teach myself golf, I decided I must teach myself a simple style. For my father was always insisting that simplicity was the greatest of all gifts and the most laudable of all attainments.
To illustrate this, he took me to London to see Gerald du Maurier act. How utterly easy he made acting look! You were not conscious of the years of toil that must have gone to the building of that superb technique.
Remember that when next you envy the effortless ease with which a crack Pro drives!
So it came about that I set out at first to find a simple golf swing and then, at a later date to find a simple method of imparting this to others.
The discovery, or rather the development of the golf swing itself was not so difficult, but it is only comparatively recently that Ihave learned how to teach it. And I freely admit that the teaching is still less simple than I would like it to be.
On Learning Golf Introduction: Part 3