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What are the YIPS and how do you stop them?

The yips are a strange phenomenon that can happen to anybody and can show in many different ways. The most common place we see them is on short putts, but they can exist in all parts of the game. It also can affect all abilities of player – professional playing careers have been ended by them and plenty of Saturday morning medal rounds too!

It could be that you can’t trigger your driver takeaway, can’t hit a chip without a flinch in your hands at strike or can’t stop control the putter face from 2 feet. Most people believe that they begin with a crisis in confidence. I, however, look at it from a different perspective.

Yes your confidence is probably shot if you have the yips, but I can guarantee that the root cause is grounded in your technique. As the technique gets worse the shots get worse and gradually you start believing that you can’t hit the shot. From that point every time you leave yourself that same shot you will have the same stress/ fear reaction that causes the ‘yip’. It’s a really nasty cycle that can start to run through other parts of your game too.

One example, that I see all the time is in chipping. Everyone I have ever spoken to who ‘yips’ there chips approaches the ball too steeply with a leading edge that is digging the ground. The bounce of the club is not used and therefore the margin for error in your strike is minutely small often leading to thins and chunks. It’s not a ‘yip’ until you’ve let this problem grow and grow for a while until it starts to become a mental issue. My advice is simple – GET PROFESSIONAL COACHING before the technical issue gets too big. Once this has happened the natural ‘reprogramming’ of your confidence can begin.

What is the two-way miss and how do we avoid it?

If you are someone who watches quite a lot of golf on the TV you’ll often hear the commentators say that a player is trying to ‘take the left/right side of the course out of play’.  What this essentially means is that someone who curves the ball is trying to hit the ball with the same curve to remove the risk of missing it left and right, therefore a one-way miss. It seems like an amazing idea and you’d wonder why we all aren’t doing that!

A player that this gets highlighted with a lot is Dustin Johnson, who used to be a drawer of the ball but has developed a fade shape to give him more consistency over the past 8 or 9 years. Commentators will harp on about him never hitting the ball left anymore because he always curves it away from the left towards the right side of the fairway. Here’s some news though, a one-way miss doesn’t exist. It’s actually just another completely unachievable ideology that we’re led to believe is possible in golf!

See the diagram below of all of Dustin Johnson’s competitive drives in a 5 year period (courtesy of Golf Stats Pro):

What becomes evident is that there is a very equal spread. Therefore, by hitting his fade shape he has become no less likely to hit it left. He may not ‘hook’ it or curve it to the left but he could still ‘pull’ it left. This is the nature of golf and it’s very important to understand this fact.

If you draw the ball you can also hit a push shot, meaning you can still hit it both ways. If you fade the ball you can also hit it left with a pull, again meaning you have a two-way miss. The real challenge is knowing how to stop it going left or right when you really need it, for example, if there is a lake to the right and you can’t risk hitting a slice into it.

Now think about your own game. Which way do you tend to curve the ball? Do you ALWAYS hit it that way or does it vary? In a round of golf do you ever hit every drive the same into the middle of the fairway? Do you hit some random shots where the ball spins the complete opposite way to normal?

One final observation of the shot diagram above ….. Look how dense the map still is 20-25 yards off the middle of the fairway!

Tour players are really good, but not perfect!

My tip for club golfers is as follows. Monitor every drive you hit over the course of 5-10 rounds and keep note of whether the ball had draw, fade or straight spin on it and if it finished left, right or straight. By the end of 5 rounds you’ll have 70 (ish) shots that will show a dominant ball flight. You’ll see how consistent you are with that flight and then either work to improve it (if you feel it’s necessary) or play with that flight.

 

Lee Wilson, June 2021

How much does the weather affect your golf ball?

Humidity, air pressure and temperature

Firstly, let’s think about three elements of our weather and how they impact our game – humidity, air pressure and temperature.

Humidity doesn’t really affect the ball. A change from 10% to 90% humidity affects a ball distance by just 1 yard on a 6-iron (for a Tour player).

Similarly, air pressure has a small effect so isn’t something we’d need to be concerned about.

Temperature changes the ball distance the most. Going from 40 to 100 degrees (f) will increase a 6-iron by 8 yards and a driver by 9 yards. In connection with temperature, make sure you consider the bounce and roll on different ground conditions as the weather changes. For example, it’s been hot and dry the ground will be harder and bouncier.

Wind

The biggest factor you’ll have to contend with is the wind. Here’s a great visual of how a 140 yard shot is affected by different wind speeds (tail and head):

You’ll see the tailwind helps much less than a headwind hinders.

A tailwind will reduce the backspin on the ball, in turn flattening the landing angle creating more bounce and roll. It’s often quite difficult to judge how long the ball will stay in the air for and how much it will roll though.

A headwind will impart more backspin and lift onto the ball, creating a steeper landing angle and reduced bounce and roll. The more loft you have in your hand or the higher you hit the ball, the more it will reduce your overall distance. If you naturally create a lot of backspin, you should really take note of the wind strength as it will affect you more. Low trajectory hitters and low spin flights will be less affected.

For crosswinds, the impact depends on a few factors.

If you curve your ball (for example slice or hook), it will either curve with the wind or against the wind. If it curves with the wind, the ball will travel as though it has a tailwind. If you curve the ball against the wind, the impact will be like hitting the ball into a headwind.

Considering the above, if you know how to shape your ball you can really take advantage of a crosswind when you need a few extra yards.

The distance of a straight shot shouldn’t be affected very much by crosswinds, but the direction will be.

SUMMARY

  • Temperature will affect the distance a ball travels.
  • The wind has a huge impact not only on distance but also flight and direction.
  • Tailwind will increase the distance of your shot and controlling the landing can be tricky.
  • Headwind has a bigger affect than tailwind. It will significantly shorten your shot, especially if the wind is very strong.
  • Playing crosswinds very much depends on how you shape your shot.
  • The best players in the world learn how to adapt their ball flight to windy conditions.

TOP TIP!  Club up more than you think into the breeze!

 

Lee Wilson; August 2020

What should you expect from your putting?

Let’s start today by getting straight into the putting conversion percentages of PGA Tour players, who play on the best greens and dedicate more time than any to this area…

From 3 feet: 99.34%
4 feet: 91.43%
5 feet: 80.72%
6 feet: 70.21%
7 feet: 60.6%
8 feet: 52.86%
9 feet: 46.38%
10 feet: 41.25%
11-15 feet: 30.1%
15-20 feet: 18.3%
20-25 feet: 12.47%
25+ feet: 5.45%
3-putt avoidance >25 feet: 91.71%

Notice the biggest decreases are between 4 feet and 8 feet and the point at which they will make or miss breaks even at around 8 feet. The excellent 3 putt avoidance stat shows how often they putt the ball to within 3 or 4 feet from outside of 25 feet.

Here are some comparisons to Scratch and 18-20 handicappers:

This shows how important it is for higher handicap players to practice their long range putting as if you aren’t getting inside of 5 feet you are more likely to 3-putt than 2-putt. It is important to recognise that even the best miss from 3 or 4 feet so don’t beat yourself up if you do!

Top Tip:  Practice your long range lag putting and aim to get within 4 feet. You have a much better chance of keeping your 3-putts to a minimum!

Lee Wilson; August 2020

Pre-shot routines and why they are so important

Since my last email a lot has happened … Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship with an amazing performance against all odds, Jon Rahm destroyed everyone for 3 rounds at The Memorial and tested positive for COVID and had to withdraw and even I played in my first tournament of the year.

Starting with the PGA Championship, I noticed something very interesting in Phil Mickelson’s routine during the final round. Something that I believe can help everyone, it’s called … breathing. He was very noticeable taking at least 2 deep breathes during his routine and then a further deep breath after he had hit a shot. Why did he start doing this in the final round? Because despite his career success he was nervous, stressed, probably anxious and needed a release valve to slow his thoughts down and control himself.

Deep breathing is fantastic for controlling your heart rate, allowing you to think mindfully, make better decisions and improve your focus. It also helps your body to move smoothly and not tense up. All very useful when you make some bad swings or mistakes and you can feel yourself rushing through the motions rather than stepping back and slowing yourself down. We’ve all been there!

I decided to try and take a leaf out of Mickelson’s book when I played in my first tournament of the year a couple of weeks ago. I turned up quite early for my tee off time and felt relaxed, then went out to hit 25 warm up balls and my swing felt TERRIBLE!

I felt tight, uncomfortable, out of rhythm, really struggling to focus on the right swing cues and then my mind started to rush and worry that under the pressure of having a scorecard in hand it would be a complete nightmare. My plan B then was to add in some deep breathes behind the ball and slow down to give myself a chance and lower my expectations of myself to very low levels.

I then started birdie, birdie, birdie, par, par, birdie. I still didn’t feel good about my swing to be honest but I had managed to control my mind, decisions and anxiety and put together a really nice run. Now I was feeling more comfortable and relaxed and that’s when I started making mistakes. I became complacent in my routine and actually stopped my deep breathing temporarily. Suddenly I found myself making silly errors and hitting some really poor shots. It steadied again and my score was ok in the end but definitely a lesson learnt for me.

I’m not saying that deep breathing will help everyone, but I am saying that your unique routine should be consistent and repeatable under any circumstance and it may help in pressurised situations. It could be the dreaded first tee shot or when you start to rack up some bad holes in a row. You need to have something that you can go to to steady the ship and think clearly and mindfully. You also need to make sure that you practice your routine whether you are on the range, chipping area or golf course.

Maybe give it a try on your next round and let me know how you get on!

Lee Wilson; June 2021

What is the best way to practice your golf?

This week I want to discuss the topic of practice and how to get the most out of it. Most people do practice, whether it be on the driving range one or two evenings a week or a few hours on the chipping and putting green. However, from what I see I wonder how much these golfers are actually gaining from their visit sometimes.

The most common situation I see is someone hitting 50 balls on the range, starting with a 7 iron and then grabbing the driver to smash a few and then heading home. If what you are looking for is a bit of stress relief then this probably isn’t bad but it won’t help your game much. I’d like to introduce the 2 different practice types to you and some games that you can try to make your practice more fun!

Block Practice

Block practice is when you pick the same target and the same club and hit repetitively i.e. 50 balls with a 7 iron to the same place. This is what most people do when they go to ‘practice’. Block practice works well when you are learning a new technical move in your swing and you are just looking to build the reps with it. After a lesson this is an ideal way to go about it at first as you can start to get the right feels and refine the movement with no particular target or consequence.

Variable Practice

Variable practice is a style where you start to practice like you would play. It involves adding in consequences for poor shots, multiple targets, lies and variations of shots with specific outcomes in mind. For example: same target with 3 different clubs. Then change target and do the same again.

Which style works best?

For me, if you want to lower your scores and improve your skill level overall you should use more variable practice. On the golf course, you’ll never get 2 shots the same so why not prepare for this with your practice routine?!

If you have a new swing feel after a lesson then block practice initially is a good way to start but you have to apply targets, and variety at some point to really test whether you have control over the new move.

Tips and games to try

If you are someone who heads to the range to get 50 balls then why not break the 50 into 10 x 5 shot blocks of the following:

Pitch shot, 9i, 7i, 5i, 3w, Driver, Hybrid, 6i, 8i, PW.

You can use nearly every club in your bag and change targets as you do it.

Around the chipping green try my favourite game: Par 18

Pick 9 different locations around the green. You have to finish out to the hole each time and add up your score. Simple!

18 is a perfect score of chip and putting each time. Set yourself a target and see how you get on. You can then make it more difficult or easier with different lies, hole locations etc.

The best practice games though are ones you make up yourself. You can be completely specific to the needs of your game and use the practice facilities at your club in the best way. Just make sure that you have consequences for a poor shot or miss, maybe by having to start again or try it a different way. Be creative!

Lee Wilson; May 2021

Rory Returns To The Winning Circle: How Did He Do It And What Can We Learn?

I was absolutely delighted to see Rory get his first win for a couple of years over the weekend. Rory’s golf is talked about a lot – his strengths and his weaknesses – which I guess is a product of his success when he was younger and hopefully we get to see a second ‘spurt’ of wins and majors in his career. He’s certainly good enough!

Let’s take a look at some of his stats from the week just gone:

You can see here that all parts of his game were in really good shape across the tournament. He hit some wonderful pitches and bunker shots towards the end of the event but this was actually his most ‘average’ part of his game. His driving was good as always and his approach was fantastic but his putting was the highlight.

His putting is so often criticised but this was the key. In simple terms he hit the ball well enough to compete and putted well enough to win!

So what made his putting so good…..

Isn’t this just extraordinary. Not one putt inside of 6 feet missed! That is how you keep bogies off your card.

Here are some repeated tips to help you improve your putting:

1) Practice from 25 feet+
2) Practice from inside of 6 feet

If your long putting is better you will reduce the amount of 3 putts and from inside of 6 feet you have a better than 50% (ish) chance of making it.

Try this simple tip and see how you get on.

 

Lee Wilson; May 2021

What should you expect from your short game?

Today’s blog post is focused on your expectations and abilities around the green, specifically from 50 yards and in. I have played with higher handicapped golfers who genuinely expect to hit it inside 10 feet every time from inside 100 yards which just isn’t the reality of golf.

Here is an image of a tour players practice results from 50 yards…

You’ll see that there are a number of fantastic shots close to the hole but also at least 20-30% are outside of 20-25 feet. This is completely normal.

The most eye opening thing I have seen was when I went to watch the BMW Championship at Wentworth about 10 years ago and saw at least 6 completely chunked chips around the green. They are not shots that I expected to see but we all do them!

So for amateur golfers, what should you expect?

These stats above from Shot Scope/ Golf Monthly show the up and down expectation for different handicap ranges from different yardages. Notice the huge drop off when the distance off the green increases by 10-20 yards extra.

What I draw from this is regardless of your handicap range if you miss a green by 20 yards don’t expect to get up and down. For higher handicap ranges just hitting the green is often good enough. I would also stress that your ability to hit longer shots closer to the green is so important as the drop off in percentage is quite stark.

My tips for improving your up and down percentages are:

1) Know your iron distances to get closer to the hole
2) Experiment with different clubs around the green in practice
3) Make sure you do practice!
4) Remember that sometimes just hitting the green is great

Lee Wilson, May 2021

How important is power hitting in golf?

Today’s blog post is focused on power hitting and it’s importance in golf. With respects to the worldwide tours it is definitely becoming a talking point again thanks to Bryson but it does have groundings in amateur golf too.

Here is a simple chart of driving distances compared to handicap according to Shot Scope users – courtesy of Golf Monthly.

How does your distance compare to these numbers …. Are you a relatively long hitter struggling to score, right on the average distance or just not hitting it afr enough to improve?

As the weather is now getting warmer you’ll undoubtedly see an increase in your distance and the biggest advantage you’ll get from it will be having a shorter club into the green. Regardless of whether you are on the fairway or rough you are statistically more likely to shoot better scores from there.

Knowing this, the question I suppose is how do we increase distance without completely sacrificing your accuracy.

From my experience, most distance related issues come down to swing mechanics. Where is your club face pointing during the golf swing? How does this affect your impact and club shaft position? How does that then affect the way you move your body (because it does!)? Are you then able to physically move your body the way you need to?

The result of this little sequence is that golfers who struggle tend to be compensating just to hit the ball and can’t actually impart speed the way they would like. We all know someone who hits it softly to keep it in play because they are worried about losing too many balls!

At the top end of the game where swing motions are more functional then training programs can help but at club level it is really a case of getting the club to work properly first.

If you are not sure about how your swing works, this is the first place to start getting that drive distance up.

If you have any question or thoughts on this piece feel free to get in touch.

 

Lee Wilson; April 2021

What is ‘consistency’ in golf and how important is it?

This week on the Monday Club I wanted to discuss the most used word in golf (other than Fore!), which is consistency. I must hear it 50 times a day when I’m coaching and a consistent golf game seems to be the holy grail that we are all searching for. It got me thinking – what does it really mean?

To start, check out the 4 PGA Tour players below and the still image of their top of the swing position. All completely different I’m sure you’ll agree!

My thoughts on consistency start with a few questions:

What needs to be consistent? The outcome? or the process? or both? or neither?

Does golf require me to do the same every time?

Our aim in golf is to achieve a successful completion of the task presented without cost. That task changes shot to shot. Therefore, do we actually need to be more adaptive than consistent? 

There are certainly positions and movements I like to see in a swing to make golf easier, and if you’ve had lessons with me you’ll probably know a couple of them, but no one specific movement will on its own lead to disaster (see the flat swing of Rickie Fowler or the steep cupped position of Matt Wolff). Instead it’s about how we then move and adapt the positions to get the clubhead to impact.

I suppose the debate is: Is the chase the consistency actually unattainable to a certain degree? I hear so many players who are disappointed with shots that really aren’t bad or are unhappy with their swings that happen to be quite functional. When coaching players my biggest consideration is not the look of a swing but how we can best achieve movements to make it more functional to improve your scores.

What we will see when we watch the Masters this coming week, for example, are a group of adaptive movers who know how to get from their unique swing positions to hit the ball closest to the hole with the most skill. Look no further than 2 time champion Bubba Watson for the ability to adapt movements to create results.

In summary, what I think is important is that we find the best way to score lower. There may be unique positions that you deal with but I’m certain that they can either be adapted or counteracted to help you hit the shot you need to hit. There may be better swing positions but there are no perfect positions. Will any human ever hit 14 drives or make 14 driver swings in a round of golf exactly the same with the identical curve, distance, carry and roll – NO. Be careful with what you expect yourself to do and don’t get too down if you’re not hitting the ball great – I’m certain a slight adaptation here or there will get you right back on track.

I can proudly say that no 2 clients that I teach have exactly the same swing. There may be some similarities in drills and practices but I can assure you that your swing is just for you and you only!

If you have any question or thoughts on this piece feel free to get in touch.

 

Lee Wilson; April 2021