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The Wedge Guy: Dealing with the wedge yips

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If you’ve ever had the affliction of fearing short wedge shots, you can certainly appreciate how difficult the malady can be.

Over the course of my golf life — for whatever reason — that strange affliction seems to crop up now and again. Same for the traditional putting yips. Those are nasty problems to deal with, but I have figured out a sound and effective way to beat them back into remission. I don’t think you are ever completely cured of something that is a nervous twitch at exactly the wrong time, but you can keep it suppressed.

So, if your short game is occasionally or frequently visited by yippiness — where chunks and/or skulls become way too frequent — today’s post is for you.

It is my belief that this inability to execute the simplest of strokes – whether it is with the putter or the wedge – comes from prior bad experiences. One chunk or skulled shot (or badly missed 2-3 footer) sticks in your mind and makes you more uncomfortable and nervous when you face the next one. You hit that next one just as bad and the nasty affliction has taken hold of your mind in such a way that your body cannot perform the simple action it knows how to do.

So, here’s how I have learned to deal with my wedge yips whenever they find their way back into your game.

Review your fundamentals. Especially around the greens on our shortest of shots, it is very easy to somewhat “forget” your fundamentals – stance, alignment, posture, ball position and grip pressure. If one or more of those gets out of whack, then your body is not in sync with the shot your eyes see. That causes unnoticed tension, and your hands try to take over to make the clubhead go where the eyes are looking, instead of where the body is pointing. Double down on your fundamentals!

Check your grip pressure…again! Tension causes us to tighten up all over, but particularly in our grip, and even more specifically, to your master-hand pressure (your right for right-handed players, of course). When results go a bit south on you, your tendency is to get more master-handed in an attempt to guide the clubhead to the ball. The proper technique, of course, is to execute these shots with your lead side, and keep the hands pretty “quiet.” An overactive right hand is a killer around the greens.

Check your tempo. Anxiety begets tension which begets increased speed and wrecks your tempo and timing. These greenside chips and pitches can be hit with very slow and methodical tempo, feeling almost like you’re swinging the club in slow motion.

Practice…drill…practice. The great thing about practicing your short game technique is that you do not need to go to the range. You can do it in your basement, garage or back yard. Without any balls at all to get in the way, visit these first three points and re-learn or re-confirm your skill set. Focus on fundamentals, check your grip pressure, and tempo and make lots of practice swings. Then hit some balls with this refreshed set of fundamentals.

The last thing I highly recommend is that you begin and end each pre-round warm-up with these short chips and pitches. Hit enough of them to feel really good about your technique and attitude as you take it to the course. Those practice shots before you get into your full swings will help set the pace and tempo for the day and those you hit before you go to the first tee will be fresh in your mind and psyche when you face your first “real one” on the course!

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Nov 18, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Instead of the movement of body parts, the real key was the successful movement of the golf club. Ernest Jones had happened upon the then-little-understood fact that the human brain need only experience a person’s desire to perform a task. On its own the brain devises a means to create the muscular action to achieve the task. The individual is only aware of “what” they want to do. The brain’s action in deciding “how” it will accomplish the task is completely unconscious. This explains how very proficient golfers often report that they have little understanding of “how” they swing and only understand that they can do so when they choose.

    Thus it was the case that Ernest Jones began his now-famous quest to discover, document, and disseminate a description of “how” the club swung and how to most easily teach the club’s movements to others”

    Modern golf instruction suggests conscious movement of body parts (biomechanics).. leading to the YIPS.

  2. Pingback: The Wedge Guy: Chipping away strokes – GolfWRX

  3. Alcap26

    Nov 13, 2021 at 9:41 am

    Tried all the things mentioned above but no dice. Went cross handed from 30 yards in and my scores dropped quickly. No fear around the green going left hand low. Can flight it any height I want.

  4. Brian

    Nov 12, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    I went through a few seasons where I couldn’t hit the simplest of chips/pitches around the green. I would hit nothing but flops because I couldn’t chip the ball without shanking it. I would absolutely bleed strokes around the green…6-8 a round. With practice, I turned what was my biggest weakness into a relative strength.

    Sure, chili dips and skulls will happen from time to time, but I’m not fear-stricken any longer. Feels nice.

  5. Mark Knapek

    Nov 12, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for the article & good reminders. Having struggled with this part of my game some over the last couple of years, I would also add another reminder, that my Dad told me ALL THE TIME growing up, but apparently still forgot. KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN through the shot!

  6. ChipNRun

    Nov 12, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Big point to help tempo: Lead with the left arm (if right hander). Nothing makes wedge shots come up short like excess forward pressure with right (lead) hand.

    This is especially true with lob wedges.

  7. Acemandrake

    Nov 11, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Keep. Head. Still.

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