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Have the chipping yips? Here’s a drill to help



Note: If you don’t have the chipping yips, hit the back button right now on your browser. You don’t need to hear this stuff! But if you do have them, or are really struggling with your short game, read on. 

Oh man, the chipping yips. They are such a horrible thing to watch, yet you can’t look away. It’s like watching a wreck at an Indy Car race.

Recently, I was asked if the chipping yips are curable, and unfortunately I have to say it’s very doubtful. I have never seen an amateur cure them in my lifetime on the lesson tee. Tiger Woods is the only player I’ve seen who has seemingly conquered them, but I will withhold my verdict until he comes back to play in 2017.

Generally, the chipping yips start as a mechanical issue, leading to chunks and skulls, or just poor chip shots overall. Eventually, these poor shots erode confidence, and your brain starts tell your body you can’t handle the shot at hand. This inner doubt leads to some involuntary action as the club nears impact, making it very difficult to hit the golf ball properly. From there, unless you cross the wires mechanically, you are often left to struggle forever.

While I don’t think chipping yips can be cured, I do believe they can be suppressed, and that’s what the rest of this article is about. I can think of a few players off the top of my head who have battled this very issue:

  • Brock Mackenzie, a Tour player, now chips with one hand.
  • Chris Smith, a PGA Tour winner, chips cross-handed.
  • Doug Barron, a former PGA Tour player, also chips cross-handed.

Let me get you to understand how the yips are often created, and give you a drill that will help you combat them if and when when they show up. Hopefully, you can make a mechanical change before things get too bad.

How a chip shot should look

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.15.27 AM

On the backswing, there should be some type of loading of the club to create a slight bit of lag on the way down. This can be done with a quick setting of the wrists, which you see in Rory McIlroy’s move, or with the change of direction at the top, as Steve Stricker does. But either way, there needs to be a bit of load.

It’s this lag that must be maintained into and through impact in order to maintain solid and consistent contact around the greens.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.15.44 AM

Next comes the rotation or pivot of the body through the shot, which keeps “lag pressure” on the club shaft through the impact zone, and pulls the clubhead into the ball with solid impact alignments. This is mainly a function of the rear shoulder maintaining a constant velocity through impact. When it slows or does not rotate toward the target, the hands take over. And when the hands take on too much of a role, the golfer is left very vulnerable to the yips.

What a yip looks like

The main problem with chipping-yippers is their inability to keep the pivot moving through the shot. Of course, there are different types of yips that occur for various reasons, but this is by far the most common.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.00 AM

Here you can see this player has the club lagging, but notice the right shoulder. You can see it is staying too far “back,” and thus the shoulders are not opening up as quickly as they should at this point in the downswing.

An bad shot is about to occur. Yikes.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.13 AM

You can this see this shot was hit fat, and the right shoulder has moved forward very little from the last frame above. When the pivot slows, the player tends to fall backward, moving the low point rearward. And from there, you are in trouble.

So how do you stop sticking your pick in the ground?

The One-Hander

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.29 AM

Set up with your rear hand on the grip as shown. Note that the handle and forearm form a letter “V” of a certain angle, and I don’t want to see that angle change.

The only way to achieve this is to use the pivot of your body to transport your arms, hands and club into impact, instead of flipping or blocking with your hands.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.42 AM

At impact (above), notice how far forward the rear shoulder has rotated! You can also see that the rear wrist is bent and the “V” is still intact, as it was during address.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.17.11 AMEven in the frame above, the right shoulder is still moving forward and the lag is still intact. This is the way to pitch the ball like a pro!

Still have doubts that the pivot of the body or right shoulder controls lag pressure? Check out this photo comparison below. There’s significantly more rotation in the right frame.


So take your time and understand that if you slap at the ball it’s not a problem with your hands; it’s a reaction to your pivot slowing down. Try the one-handed pitching drill and I promise you will improve.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ( He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: [email protected]



  1. Keith W.

    Oct 29, 2016 at 7:01 am

    The CHIP YIPS ARE REAL! At one time I had a +2.3 handicap and my short game was so good that I was described as “being able to get up-and-down out of a ball washer”…not a bad compliment, and true. Things changed, and for 10 years my short game became a total liability. But I found a fix that worked for me that eliminated the need to think about technique and built trust in my chipping again.

    Rather than thinking about the swing or manipulating my wrists, hands, club face or anything else I remembered something I had told and taught to junior golfers…”the club is smarter than you are”. Translation: the club has plenty of loft, and has bounce to accommodate the lie conditions…all it needs is a pilot.

    The FIX…instead of letting the hands, arms, and shoulders dictate the results, let the club dictate the shot. This is accomplished by addressing the ball in a slightly more upright position, taking the club back to what is appropriate for the length of the shot and once the backswing is in place simply drop the club from the top of the swing and allow the weight of the head to do its magic on the downswing. I could really feel the head and it works because the club has no fear, no doubt, and no brain. If you try this you will find that the club will do its job as manufactured.

    After applying this logic (and a couple of extra pieces of lead tape to and L wedge) in practice for about an hour on a chipping green, I found that I was no longer guiding the club to avoid errant shots, but instead releasing the head again and thereby curing the mechanical failures. After practicing this for a couple of days I took it to the course and had ZERO fat or skulled shots, and in fact reclaimed 90% of my proficiency with my lob wedge.

    Fast forward 3 years…since putting this into practice I have cured the chip yips and my confidence in my short game has returned. I don’t even think about it anymore…except for today, writing this advice.

  2. Steve S

    Oct 28, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Yips are a mental problem that CAN be cured. Confidence cures the yips. Confidence is gained by a lot of successful practice. Successful practice comes from good fundamentals. This applies to all sports and physical activity. A strong willed person can overcome almost any physical problem(pertaining to sports). A weak willed person needs to work on their personality.

    • tom stickney

      Oct 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Steve– ever taught someone with the yips before? It’s easy to help them overcome them in practice but when the light comes on during the tournament all bets are off.

      • Scooter McGavin

        Oct 28, 2016 at 4:54 pm

        Sorry, Tom, but Steve is mostly right. “Yips” is just a name people made up to make an excuse for their poor performance at something. When the “tournament light goes on” the golfer needs to have put in the appropriate preparation (slow fundamental practice) so they can rely on that. Calling it “the yips” only perpetuates the problem because it makes it sound like a disease that is out of the golfer’s control (“Oh noes, I got de yips!”). Honestly, I think golfers would be much better off if everyone stopped calling it the yips and just said “Hey, I’m having some problems chipping (putting, driving, etc.). I need to go to the chipping green and sort them out with basic, patient fundamental practice”. As a teacher, if someone tells you they have the yips, the best thing you can do for them is tell them there’s no such thing, and that they’ve just developed a flaw they need to work out.

  3. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Interesting that you didn’t go on to mention the skulled shots. But, as is obvious, they are the mental (faulty) correction to hitting fat shots. So they go together.

  4. Charlie

    Oct 27, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Tiger comment in 3…2…1…

    • The dude

      Oct 28, 2016 at 6:08 am

      He is set to retire after 17’….I promise

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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive



Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301



In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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An awesome drill for lag that works with the ball!



Many lag drills have come and gone in this game because they have a hard time working when the ball is there! How many times do you hear about someone having a great practice swing and then having it all go away when the ball is there? This one is a keeper!

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