Feb 5, 2015
By Tim Mitchell, PGA at Pelican Hill Golf Club
The yips are driving players away from golf. Our topic for today is discussing the chipping yips. Let’s be honest, yips seldom develop unless one fails time and again over an extended period. A technical deficiency turns into a mental and emotional liability when a golfer can no longer athletically manage that technical deficiency. The yips needs time to fester. They rarely take place overnight. Chipping yips stem from improper club, turf interaction, which makes striking the sweet spot of the ball difficult. Let’s discuss two specific scenarios that usually develop with experienced players, as well as a broad overtone for all player’s struggling with the condition.
Scenario #1 develops when a golfer is too shallow on his downswing. Golfers spend years trying to get their downswings more on plane for their full swings. If this technique is overdone, it can negatively affect chip shots and cause turf first contact. One of my favorite fixes…I try to encourage my students to feel like the handle of the club feels lower at impact, compared to the address position. This encourages the golf club to be on a more upright plane on the downswing. It also achieves better connection between the left arm and the chest thru impact, a solid characteristic for consistency.
Scenario #2 takes place for players who have too much shaft lean at impact. This characteristic can pronounce the leading edge of the golf club, which can be disastrous for good club, turf interaction. I like to encourage this student to cup their lead wrist thru impact and beyond. This will expose more of the bounce compared with the leading edge, and encourage better contact. One of my favorite “feelings” to share…the lead wrist needs to feel like it is throwing a frisbee, with a full release, but throwing a short distance.
Finally, I encourage all of my students suffering through the chipping yips to take their hands out of the hit. I want my students to feel like their arms are heavy and soft. When their hands become connected to the club, the arms, hands and golf club should feel like an elephant’s trunk. This image softens up the entire motion, and encourages the body turn to be more responsible for the hit. I also like to think that by taking away the hit from the hands, a new pattern can be developed to rewrite a new emotional and mental story.
Yips of any kind can be overcome with better technique. Hopefully these fixes, when applied correctly, will keep more players in the game.