The common fault with all players is in hurrying the stroke. The stroke is delicate and should be played with much of the pendulum idea, the same as with a putter. Accuracy in hitting is the keynote of success with this short shot.
I have learned from experience that “half-topping” is the fault which happens most, on a short, running-up shot, as sclaff4ng is on a short pitched shot, and that a scheme to prevent these faults is a great help in inspiring confidence and even in bringing off the shot although anxiety does make the player look up too soon.
For instance, if the player can assume some stance or attitude whereby he cannot swing over his ball, or even go above a certain point, that is an advantage. As most of the power in a short shot comes from the weight of the club alone and the distance back it is lifted, it should be an easy matter for the player to devise some scheme which will make it extremely awkward to use the arms and hands for anything else than lifting the club and guiding it again.
In my own case I use the elbow of my right arm as the pivot of the stroke, bringing my elbow close to my side. This prevents shifting the pivot of the stroke. As the lowest point in a vertical circle will always be exactly opposite and at right angles to the pivot, it is necessary, if the club is to strike the ball before that lowest point is reached, that the pivot be located ahead of the ball as in all the other shots.
The player must bear in mind that all these factors are solved when you take your stance. Your purpose, as I have previously explained, must be to hit the ball down against the ground. Do not jerk the club at the ball, but let it come down freely with its own weight. You will then educate your muscles to the “feel” of the correct amount of back swing to obtain a given distance.
You will find from experience that you will always look up the instant you have made your effort, whether it is a short shot or a full shot, and this is a fact which few players have ever considered. It is an involuntary action. Making the effort too soon results in looking up too soon, and it is the cause of more strokes added to one’s score than all other causes combined.
Making the effort too soon is in itself the result of trying to hit too hard and not waiting for the club to do the work. The mental discipline necessary to hold one’s self in check is the thing to be sought after. Hit the ball true in the center of the club face a few times and your confidence in yourself will come quickly.
Absolute freedom and comfort are essential in the stroke, and nothing approaching stiffness must be introduced at any point. Practice alone will accomplish this, and the whole operation must be an endeavor to keep the club perfectly balanced and poised throughout. Avoid timidity in hitting and strike firmly, but not hard.