We have all heard of the dreaded yips in putting, sadly too many recreational golfers deal with the pitching and chipping yips as well. My first reaction would be to tell any golfer who struggles in this area to seek out a reputable teacher who is known for having a great knowledge of the short game. In order to develop a reliable short game, golfers usually need to be exposed to a whole set of terms and vocabulary.
I have found that struggles in golf, like in the short game are not due to a lack of talent but a lack of understanding. 90% of the time this lack of understanding comes from old, incorrect cliches and a overwhelming amount of incorrect concepts. For example, 9 out of 10 golfers who do not pitch the ball well and continually experience going back and forth between thin and fat shots have been told to accelerate thru the ball. To me this is not the problem at all, in fact it is just the opposite. Way too many golfers on a pitch around the green do not take the club back far enough thus not creating enough force or time for the club to develop a smooth transition and a nice flow. This golfer who has been told to “accelerate” thru the ball almost always will have a quick, hurried and steep approach into the ball causing all sorts of problems. Also 80-90% of golfers do not know what the bounce is. They have been told to play the ball back and lean the shaft forward.
This is a recipe for disaster as the leading edge will dig which causes the fat shot. Now you can see the dilemma that arises. Since they tend to hit it fat they are told they are not accelerating thru the ball so their backswings get shorter and the downswing gets faster and because the bounce is not exposed the club digs. You cannot hit a pitch properly or consistently using the leading edge.
I was fortunate to spend a fair amount of time with Mac O’Grady. We worked solely on the full swing but Mac shared with me some notes on the short game that he learned from the great Seve Ballesteros. Tiger has often said that a lot of his short game knowledge came from Seve. The first thing Seve told Mac was everything in the short game is rhythm and slow movements, there should be no conscious acceleration. Bottom line for most golfers who struggle is work on taking the club “wedge” back far enough so you won’t have to jerk the club down and create artificial speed.