Chipping "Yips"
There may be no more demoralizing shot in all of golf than the easy short chip shot that you flub. Too often you seen golfers catch one "right in the eyebrows" and send it across the green like a cruise missile, or stick the club in the dirt and move the ball only a foot or so ... if at all. Those are caused by nothing more complex than a "yip", and I've had 'em to a point of nearly wanting to give up the game.

The good news is that they can be beaten into submission, or maybe remission is a better word. The point is that you can drill and grind your way out of the chipping yips and put the fun back into your greenside game.

What causes these is nothing more complex than mental insecurity over the shot. If you find yourself recalling bad thoughts instead of good ones, you are setting yourself up for failure. So the only way to replace those is to regroup and fill your mind with success images. And that's going to take some practice.

Here's where I'll depart from conventional wisdom on how and where to practice your chipping. If you are just fine-tuning a solid chipping technique, by all means, spend hours around the chipping green. But if you are working your way out of the chipping 'yips', then get as far away from anything resembling a target as possible. Go to the back of the driving range with a bag of balls and practice there.

Work on your raw basics – posture, ball position, grip pressure and rhythm and tempo. Get granular with every element of a good chip shot, and hit them over and over and over and over and over ... focusing only on your technique and contact with the ball. And S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Most chip yips are the result of quickness. This is a short delicate shot that needs to be executed more like a putting stroke than a pitch shot. Lose that notion of "accelerate through the ball" and think of that pendulum in a grandfather clock.

And leave any thoughts of a target completely out of the picture. You have fear of contact, so you need to get over it. Only when you've done that can you return to thoughts of target, ball flight and the other nuances of executing an effective chip shot.

Don't shortcut the time you spend. When you get where you are making solid contact, hit hundreds more chip shots to ingrain that confidence and technique. Then, and only then, should you take that confidence to the chipping green and put the target in the picture.

I hope this article isn't written for too many of you. But of those who suffer from the "chip yips", I hear ya. I feel your pain. And I hope that this helps you on the road to recovery.
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[ comments ]
DougE says:
All true. I might also add, though you sort of imply it when referring to mental insecurity, that you have to COMMIT to the shot. If you aren't committed to hit ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT, you will often decelerate, which as we all know, is the kiss of death on pretty much any shot. 9 out of 10 bad chips I see usually result from not properly completing the finish. I believe this is due to non-commitment. And non-comittment can certainly be considered a primary reason for the yips.
3/8/13
 
GBogey says:
When I have the occasional issues with chipping my fix is similar. 1) focus on the body turn so to take the hands out of the stroke; 2) shorten and slow the back swing to encourage an accelerating downswing. Usually crisp contact returns quickly, although the first couple of shots tend to be a little long.
3/8/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
And remember if you're going to miss, "THIN TO WIN"
3/8/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
all right wedge man. time to get granular
3/8/13
 
Shallowface says:
"Accelerate through the ball" is the worst advice possible in the short game and the mother of all putting and chipping yips. Thanks for pointing that out Terry.
I started having problems putting and chipping when I took that advice and got short with my backswing so I could accelerate. I got better when I lengthened out the backswing and felt like I was going to stop at the ball (think Gary Player, who I've never seen yip a chip or a putt even though he's pushing 80 years of age). Truth is, you don't stop, you just get that nice little bit of natural follow through. No more yips. No more flubs.
3/8/13
 
Shallowface says:
The second worst piece of advice for chipping is the old "keep your wrists firm as if they were encased in plaster casts." If you set the grip slightly ahead of the ball at address and hinge your wrists right away on the takeaway, you're going to come back to the ball solidly every time. It's when you swing back with stiff wrists that you wind up flipping at it with the hands, causing fats and thins, or you downcock the club on the downswing and end up jamming it.
3/8/13
 
onedollarwed says:
I think we all stub a chip from time to time; luckily it has never dogged me. I've seen friends struggle year after year and want to quit the game over this - fear and embarrassment welling up around the green.
Is it too obvious to say "hit the little ball before the big ball?" Or rather... get the club on the ball - not behind it nor above it. I know it's not that simple, but...
-grip down
-crouch down and get closer to the ball
-get your hands in front
-get the ball back in your stance
-hit with a descending blow to eliminate stubs and thins and hit the ball before the earth

Will a steeper angle of attack help?
3/14/13
 
Tim Horan says:
I have found that focussing on the leading edge of the ball (edge nearest target) promotes a ball turf contact essential for close control. Visualise the shot and groove your practice swings to get a feel for what will happen to the ball. Your practice swings need to mirror what you will eventually execute. I also find "rewinding" a shot mentally helps. Imagine the ball rolling to the hole and visualise how it got there (how high, how far you need to throw the ball onto the green to get that roll-out) and then imagine and "fit" your practice swing to that virtual visualisation.
3/15/13
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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