The buzz word in golf so far in 2015 has been yips.
Thanks to Tiger Woods and his struggles around the greens, the yips have garnered more attention than ever before.
Golfers talked about them even more than the dreaded shanks. As a player who has had the yips (to the point of whiffing shots from just off the green and sweating from 175 yards away from the green because I knew I was going to have to chip) I know the battles going on both physically and mentally.
If Tiger does have the yips, he’s got a long road ahead of him. It took me years to figure it out, beat it, and to trust it, hopefully Tiger will figure it out much faster than I did.
As with anything in golf, you have to have good technique. I know not every player will be comfortable and successful with one style, but here are the things that have helped me and my students who have had major short game struggles.
Don’t play the ball off your back foot
Too many players have the ball back in their stance, giving themselves too much shaft lean at both address and impact. It also takes away the bounce of your wedges, making it easier for the club to dig into the ground and hitting the chunked shot.
Play the ball in the middle or slightly forward of middle, with your hands slightly ahead of the ball. It’ll help eliminate the need to “scoop” the ball at impact to get loft on the shots. Also, make sure you have about 60-70% of your weight on your front foot at address and impact.
Go to the practice green and pick the easiest shot you can find, and practice your technique. I would sometimes practice with no target, so I wasn’t worried so much about the outcome, as I was just making a good swing and making good contact. Hit a lot of the easiest shot available, until you feel like you can make a repeating, successful motion.
Work on your tempo
When players have the yips, their tempo and touch are usually terrible. Many players make a fast, jabbing motion when they’re struggling. Count beats in your head, to keep your rhythm during the swing, and it’ll also help to keep your mind clear of what’s about to happen at impact. Make sure your grip pressure is light. I tell players to grip the club with the same pressure as if they’re signing their name on a check.
Once you feel like you can hit good shots in practice around the practice green, take one ball to practice with. Many of my players can hit the repetitive shots and work themselves into a good pattern after a few minutes or shots, but we don’t get that luxury on the course. Once you can drop one ball, and hit a good shot on the first try, you can beat the yips both mentally and physically.
Most players don’t practice their short games enough. Go to your short game practice area and hit different shots, of different trajectories, and make sure you do the things described above. I can promise you, and so can the former #1 player in the world, you’ll be glad you did!