Many viewers of Tiger’s return (including his former coach, Hank Haney) observed his difficulty with a few “sticky” chips around the greens at the 2017 Hero World Challenge — it should be noted that other players did also have a similar problem dealing with the tight lies around the Albany greens, most notably Hideki Matsuyama. But Woods, who has had more consistent issues in the last few years, stubbed the ground behind the golf ball on a number of shots this week, and half-skulled a few others while trying to avoid the same result. We can pass it off as “rust,” but we have seen it from him before. So let’s talk about it for a bit.
The “yips,” as they are known, are one of the most frustrating problems that plague golfers, particularly professional golfers. The physical causes of the yips are well known; this is not some esoteric information known only to great players and coaches. We all know the physical reasons, but the yips are not simply a physical problem. In fact, the physical might be a small part of the problem. The biggest part is the mental.
Everyone reading this has yipped a chip, and we all know that the very next time that shot presents itself we are thinking about the yip. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to dismiss that last shot from the mind. And if it happens more than once, or more than few times, it might be permanently on one’s mind. That’s a huge problem if you play the game for a living. Brandel Chamblee, with whom I have publicly disagreed in the past, has a theory on this. He believes no great player has ever really gotten over the condition. I can’t say if that’s true or not, but it may be.
It’s been said, (I have read that Sam Snead might have said it first, but who knows where these things ever really come from) about the yips: “Once you’ve had ’em, you’ve got ’em.” How’s that for a scary thought? Who knows if it’s true, but one thing I do know is this; golf always seems to go for the jugular!
It seems as though every time I have ever stubbed a chip shot, very soon, if not the very next hole, I have to hit another chip from a tight lie. If I’ve just missed a short putt, very soon, if not the next hole, it also seems like I’ll knock it 5 feet past the hole. And what am I thinking about? You guessed it, the last missed short putt. So no amount of mental discipline seems to overcome these evil thoughts.
Hitting the ground behind the ball on a short shot is caused by one or any combinations of the following:
- The leading edge of the wedge sticking in the ground
- An early release with a closing face
- Swaying off the ball
- A path that is too inside-out (too far from the inside)
But as I noted, every tour player and coach KNOWS this all too well. The same player who once chipped in from behind the 16th green at Augusta with a Green Jacket on the line yipped some sticky chips last week. To me, that is not rust or a mechanical problem; it’s a mental one. I would like some professional psychologist or mind-discipline expert to chime in to advise all of us on how to overcome this problem. It’s easy enough to say: “Forget about it, stay present, play the shot at hand only.” But that seems almost impossible, or at the very least, difficult to do. “Don’t think about yipping this shot” is almost a sure fire way to do just that. It’s a vicious cycle.
If it’s on Tiger’s mind, the rest of us are in big trouble. Let’s hope Chamblee is wrong, but I have to wonder. Remember the down time in golf far exceeds any other game. We are on the golf course 4+ hours, and in the act of swinging a club a total of only about two minutes. The rest of the time is thinking about swinging the club, and the outcomes. And unfortunately what we usually think about is the WORST shot we have hit in a situation, not the best. And when that shot is a short, chip from a tight-lie, well, that’s when the yips resurface.
The mechanical is correctable, but the mental is long-lasting.
Editor’s Note: “Once you’ve had em, you’ve got em” is attributed to Henry Longhurst (h/t @peterkessler)
On Spec: Saying goodbye to the build shop | Mailbag!
Host Ryan Barath says a final goodbye to his build shop and explains the reason why shop number two is going to be a big upgrade. Also a fan favorite, answering audience question in the club builder’s mailbag.
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below.
Explaining PXG: The supercar analogy
Every idea has to start somewhere.
Whether it be in a garage, basement, or in a conference room with a blank piece of paper, it’s how the idea is executed that will ultimately determine its success. When you’re Bob Parsons, execution is your specialty. When you have an idea to build some of the most technologically advanced clubs on the planet—you bring in some of the world’s best mad club scientists to help you bring them to life.
Product design is a difficult space, regardless of industry, and certainly in golf. With almost any consumer product you have to work within a lot of different constraints
- Technology: Not every company can afford to innovate to create real breakthroughs
- Materials: Just like with technology, some materials become too expensive to use in the consumer marketplace
- Time: Time is money, especially when you have smart people on board that deserve proper compensation. You need to see a return to justify products and design, and that often leads to forced product cycles.
All of these factors add up to products being designed into price categories. For example: economy car vs. luxury vehicle. No chance an economy car is going to have the horsepower or options of the luxury version because of what the inherent cost to produce is.
Where you don’t see this model is in supercars—they design what they design, use whatever materials and technology they can, then worry about price.
PXG is building supercars!
What started with a phone call and a piece of paper has become one of the golf industry’s most talked-about brands. Designers Mike Nicolette and Brad Schweigert have been given the opportunity to create products as they see fit, and with input from Bob, a self-professed golf club nut, these mad scientists are changing the industry.
Watch the fourth installment of our video series with PXG, The Disruptors, to find out how.
The coveted FedEx Cup Top 30: Why making it to the Tour Championship really matters
This week at the BMW Championship held at Medinah Golf Club in Chicago, the top 70 players left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs are looking to seal their spot in the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
Not only does getting into the top 30 mean a chance at winning the FedEx Cup and a cool $15 million bonus for winning the event, but heading into the 2020 season, being in the top 30 comes with some big perks. This top 30 threshold allows players the opportunity to build their schedules around the biggest event in golf.
Let’s take a look at what punching a ticket to East Lake really gets you
- An automatic invitation into every major in 2020: The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, and The Open Championship. For many players qualifying for these events, especially The Masters in a lifelong dream.
- Invitation to all the WGC Events: There are only a few event on tour that get you an automatic paycheck and FedEx Cup points. Being eligible for the WGCs shows that you are a world-class player, and with these events on the schedule, you don’t have to worry about qualifying through world rankings.
- Invitation to all limited field events: This includes the Genesis Invitational (formerly Genesis Open / LA Open), The Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial, and The Players Championship.
If a player was to play every one of the qualified events that would put them at 12 events for the season—to maintain a card for the next year a player has to play in at least 15 events. If you conclude that many of these are also winners and will play in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii that would put the players at 13 events.
This is why being in the top 30 is such a vital line in the proverbial sand—it gives these top players the ability to pick and choose their schedules for the 2019/2020 season without the stress of worrying about what events they are in. Although not to the same extent, this is also why every cutoff is so crucial for each player, whether it be the PGA Tour top 125, PGA Tour 125-150, or those players that gained their cards through the Korn Ferry Tour. Every dollar and every point earned accumulates towards playing opportunities for the next season!
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