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Is keeping the head down really that bad? (short game)


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For those who don't know, I have a case of the chronic yips that will disappear for a few weeks but always seem to come back as soon as I think I've conquered the beast. I have seen and own most of the videos recommended on here and have had success with them all for brief periods but can't make any of them work under pressure. On the practice green, I have no issues making solid contact and varying trajectory but on the course it's blade city. I had gotten to a point where I was  making progress and hitting a 60/40 split of good to bad pitches (pretty good for me) but lost it overnight.

Fast forward to this week and an older gentlemen told me something while playing that I'd never heard before. I have a BAD habit of peeking at the hole well before I've hit the ball. He suggested a strong visual of imagining hooks attached to my head and a sensitive set of organs and I started clipping the ball beautifully under the pressure of a round. My stock setup includes a square stance, slightly open club face to engage the bounce and ball position slightly forward of center.

So now I'm perplexed. Modern instruction seems to label keeping the head down as a no no. Am I an outlier that needs to keep my eye on the ball at impact since I peek so early? Or is this just a trick that gets my brain focused on something other than yipping it? The feel post impact is very different. I used to try and rotate everything through but would do a flinchy kind of slide of the upper body on the really bad days. Now it feels like my upper body stays very static and the arms swing past post impact. I'm cautiously optimistic that this cliche is the cure I've been searching for. Guess I'll find out the next round.

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I never scoff at things that work long term, but having seen this before, there is likely an undiagnosed issue.  All good pitchers of the ball extend their chest and head to start the downswing.  Keep

I keep my head down and eyes on the ball, 98% of the time.  There's a 2% window where shot distance begins to play a roll in me moving my head and chest forward during the shot.    If I were

Feel and real are not always the same.  The pros keep their head down but they release their body and the head follows naturally.  My worst leak on the course is trying to be too careful and not enoug

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This may be a stupid question, but in these discussions is "keeping your head down" synonymous with "keeping your eye on the ball"?

 

Is it possible to do one without doing the other?

 

 

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2 minutes ago, jholz said:

This may be a stupid question, but in these discussions is "keeping your head down" synonymous with "keeping your eye on the ball"?

 

Is it possible to do one without doing the other?

 

 

Not really possible. 
 

I mean I’m sure plenty people have the issue of trying to watch ball while head moving. So in some cases, yea it’s possible. 
 

I hate it when people teach to “keep eye on ball.”  So many issues with making that a consistent swing thought

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12 minutes ago, extrastiff said:

Not really possible. 
 

I mean I’m sure plenty people have the issue of trying to watch ball while head moving. So in some cases, yea it’s possible. 
 

I hate it when people teach to “keep eye on ball.”  So many issues with making that a consistent swing thought

 

So, if we look at the photos below, are these golfers not keeping their "heads down" or "eyes on the ball" through impact? 

 

Todd Anderson: Chip, Pitch, Lob | Instruction | Golf Digest

Golf Tips - Chip and Run Shot | Thornleigh Golf Centre

 

And seriously, not trying to be combative or anything, just genuinely curious. 

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When folks get told to keep their head down they tend to stay in flexion too long and as monte says they end up with some form of handle drag

 

face on stills is not a good way to see the motion. Unlike full swings chest work away from ball and right arm extends early.    A casters dream. And don’t motorcycle. 
 

 Tiger showing how much the short game is a cast - right arm straightens really fast and if chest isn’t working up and back . . .   All about not handle dragging and getting shaft back close to setup at impact to deliver the bounce.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFFmVFcFpWE/

 

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1 hour ago, glk said:

When folks get told to keep their head down they tend to stay in flexion too long and as monte says they end up with some form of handle drag

 

face on stills is not a good way to see the motion. Unlike full swings chest work away from ball and right arm extends early.    A casters dream. And don’t motorcycle. 
 

 Tiger showing how much the short game is a cast - right arm straightens really fast and if chest isn’t working up and back . . .   All about not handle dragging and getting shaft back close to setup at impact to deliver the bounce.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFFmVFcFpWE/

 

Exactly.
 

Just a tangent off that point, if I remember correctly, some pros including dj and rahm suggested they typically short game with open face just in case they drag/steepen too much, the bounce is a lot more present and available with open face to prevent digging. It’s definitely something I find important.

1 hour ago, jholz said:

 

So, if we look at the photos below, are these golfers not keeping their "heads down" or "eyes on the ball" through impact? 

 

Todd Anderson: Chip, Pitch, Lob | Instruction | Golf Digest

Golf Tips - Chip and Run Shot | Thornleigh Golf Centre

 

And seriously, not trying to be combative or anything, just genuinely curious. 

Ur not coming off combative at all. 

 

id agree with glk that images, especially head on, not the best. But i would say that golfers head is angling towards the target. 
 

look at the first image, at best he can only catch the ball out of his peripheral. He is looking where the ball used to be. Really difficult (impossible?)for him to track a ball leaving the club face. 
 

he is covering the ball pretty well, but as monte alludes to, if you compare first pic to last pic, he is definitely extending head and torso towards target thru impact. If he has a towel tucked under his chin, he could almost be pinning it to his chest in the first picture, but no chance in the last pic
 

 

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2 minutes ago, extrastiff said:

Exactly.
 

Just a tangent off that point, if I remember correctly, some pros including dj and rahm suggested they typically short game with open face just in case they drag/steepen too much, the bounce is a lot more present and available with open face to prevent digging. It’s definitely something I find important.

Ur not coming off combative at all. 

 

id agree with glk that images, especially head on, not the best. But i would say that golfers head is angling towards the target. 
 

look at the first image, at best he can only catch the ball out of his peripheral. He is looking where the ball used to be. Really difficult (impossible?)for him to track a ball leaving the club face. 
 

he is covering the ball pretty well, but as monte alludes to, if you compare first pic to last pic, he is definitely extending head and torso towards target thru impact. If he has a towel tucked under his chin, he could almost be pinning it to his chest in the first picture, but no chance in the last pic
 

 

 

Yes. I'm not trying to say that the head needs to, or should be, static. But I would also argue that one can keep eyes on the ball and head down through impact as part of the dynamic move.

 

If one isn't looking at the ball at impact, where should they be looking?

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I keep my head down and eyes on the ball, 98% of the time.  There's a 2% window where shot distance begins to play a roll in me moving my head and chest forward during the shot. 

 

If I were you, do not concern yourself with what is called modern instruction vs. older style.  Its a problem you don't need.  What ever you do to make good impact with the ball, do it and don't worry about what others say or how it may be seen.  Work on the yips.

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1 hour ago, jholz said:

 

Yes. I'm not trying to say that the head needs to, or should be, static. But I would also argue that one can keep eyes on the ball and head down through impact as part of the dynamic move.

 

If one isn't looking at the ball at impact, where should they be looking?

looking at ball is fine.   Monte sums up ypthe keeping head down and more in this ig.  

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxXZx-UlfeL/

 

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1 hour ago, jholz said:

 

Yes. I'm not trying to say that the head needs to, or should be, static. But I would also argue that one can keep eyes on the ball and head down through impact as part of the dynamic move.

 

If one isn't looking at the ball at impact, where should they be looking?

I will again reference other posters comments. I would not say looking at the ball is a problem to start the swing, but I see issues with the teaching of “keep eye on ball,” really has little to do with a yip-free chip for me at least.  Look at the ball sure, but I like to focus on the swing. If the setup, path, and execution are solid, you could chip with your eyes closed
 

anyways Dustin and others stay really down thru impact, do whatever works for u. But My coach made it super clear he sees lots of issues with his students (including me) being hyper focused on staying down and eye on ball, For reasons I can list if u care. 
 

do whatever helps keep it repeatable and fun. My two cents deposited

 

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5 hours ago, MonteScheinblum said:

I never scoff at things that work long term, but having seen this before, there is likely an undiagnosed issue.  All good pitchers of the ball extend their chest and head to start the downswing.  Keeping your head down reduces the radius the the bottom of the arc and forces manipulated arm and hand movement.

@MonteScheinblum I suspect under pressure, when I know I need to get it up and down to save par, the right arm stalls and I try and help the ball into the air. I know I have to keep that right arm moving but fail to do so. The fear of the blade causes the blade. I'm trying to becomes less outcome focused and just think about the process to take pressure off the shot. I was having success thinking turn the chest through the shot until one day it stopped working for me. Yesterday, before the tip, I double hit a shot from a couple yards off the green. It actually landed nice and soft and got within three feet of the hole.

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Obviously it’s only a guess without seeing it, but all things point to over active lower body.  I see it every day and it’s very common.

 

In chips and pitches, there is little to no segment separation in elite golfers, like there is on a full swing.  Excess segment separation leads to many issues, including all the ones you’ve mentioned.

Edited by MonteScheinblum
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I think keeping my eyes on the ball may be a more apt description then keeping my head entirely still. I was attempting to look at the ground under the ball a split second after it left the turf and then let momentum pull me out of the shot. That was my only swing thought and I loved the simplicity. I'm trying to understand why this worked because I would think staying down a split second longer would inhibit proper rotation of the body? I'll have to get some video when I get some free time to see If in fact I am stalling the body or if it just feels that way.  In the video posted above it certainly looks like Tiger's head swivels a bit earlier and releases with the flight of he ball.

 

Do you guys immediately track the ball after impact or look at the ground for a split second? I'm hoping this isn't a bandaid and I will finally be able to put the thin shots behind me. It suck being defensive and using putter from everywhere to try and shoot a decent score.

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2 minutes ago, MonteScheinblum said:

Obviously it’s only a guess without seeing it, but all things point to over active lower body.  I see it every day and it’s very common.

 

In chips and pitches, there is little to know segment separation in elite golfers, like there is on a full swing.  Excess segment separation leads to many issues, including all the ones you’ve mentioned.

Makes so much sense because the legs felt totally dead/inactive throughout the shot. A very foreign sensation for me and I would have assumed was incorrect.

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11 minutes ago, NotThatGuyorAmI? said:

Some of the best discussing how they manipulate their arms and hands.  Judge for yourself whether they “keep their heads down.”

 

 

 

 

 

That video is great.  Haven’t watched the whole thing, but love the discussions.  This isn’t everything, but these are head levels at the top of the swing and impact.

 Very common.  Head up and back.   Hips square at impact.
 

I see it all day every day with ams who struggle.  Head is lower and often more forward trying to hit ball first.  Excess lower body will often pull head down like a full swing.

 

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Edited by MonteScheinblum
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22 hours ago, chippa13 said:

If you don't keep your eyes on the ball then you can't hit it. That doesn't mean anything is static and your head can't move. It just means you keep your eyes on the ball.

Wrong on the first part. Plenty of teaching pros and pga pros implement an “eyes closed” swing drill. 
 

Edit: to clarify, I don’t think it should be implemented anywhere but the practice area, and potentially on putts for certain players

Edited by extrastiff
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Ok Gents, I ran out to the course to hit balls and captured a few chips/pitches before I settled in. Please excuse the poor camera angles and poor lighting

Things that pop out to me upon viewing: Standing a bit too far away from the ball, I think getting the shaft more upright and choking down would help the cause. I'm VERY handsy to start the stroke. Plane may be too flat going back or is it the bad camera angle? Through impact, my body does this weird thing wear the head slides forward and the hips kind of hang back. It looks godawful and in no way resembles a good player.

 

Beware these videos may scar you for life.

In each video the first shot is how I would normally play the shot and the 2nd is hitting with the intent of keeping my eyes on the ball a bit longer. I alternate between the two for the duration of each video.

 

 

 

 

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Haven't you heard basic chipping is a leg motion with quiet hands if you want to be good.   Pay attention to Al's after strike finish- the club head is real low to ground.  If you can accelerate a full chip shot and still have club head finish real low to ground you have some good things going one.   Open up stance up too.  There are a zillion pitching and chipping videos from tour pros on UTube if you need more. 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, MonteScheinblum said:

Staying in flexion way too long and too much shaft lean at impact. 

 

Can you hit a good shot that way....yes of course, but your margin of error is very small.

Thank your for the analysis @MonteScheinblum I have UTB 1.0 on my old laptop and will re-watch it to refresh all of the concepts. You were spot on as usual. Went out today and tried to cast away the wrist angle and stand up through impact. The rhythm of the motion, consistency of strike and distance control all improved. The move isn't perfect but looks so much more athletic to my eye. I will have to really commit to the cast when I play. Not the easiest habit to break for a chronic handle dragger but babysteps. Heading over to Rebellion golf now to snag the wedges video and work on those partial shots. Thanks again.

 

 

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11 hours ago, getitdaily said:

You open the clubface and play the ball forward for every chip? Why? If you blade chips so much then why not reduce how much of that leading edge is above the ground?

 

Square the face. Open stance just a bit. Ball forward for higher shot, ball back for lower shot and more run out. 

 

Make things simple. 

A lot of instructors teach to open the club face a tiny bit on all shots except hardpan. Ive tried the square face ball back setup and I lay the sod over it every time. Width the ball forward and open stance, I had a 50/50 chance of hitting a good shot. Depending on whether I unintentionally held the angle or let the club naturally release. Getting steep with the leading edge is not ideal for me.

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Nearly 30 years ago I worked with a teacher who told me to feel like I was "looking over the ball" following impact & it was a light bulb moment for me that still is a helpful thought/feeling. It encouraged me to rotate my head to follow the ball while staying in my posture longer, which is a problem I have always fought. This was more a full swing thought than short game but I use it in the short game as well.

 

I attended a Pelz short game school about 15 years ago & one of the drills we worked on was hitting 15-20 yard pitch shots with eyes closed. You hit a number of pitches from that distance to get the feel down, then you setup & closed your eyes just before starting the club back. Eventually you could hit the shot just as well with eyes closed as open.

 

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On 11/16/2020 at 8:23 AM, jonsnow said:

Nearly 30 years ago I worked with a teacher who told me to feel like I was "looking over the ball" following impact & it was a light bulb moment for me that still is a helpful thought/feeling. It encouraged me to rotate my head to follow the ball while staying in my posture longer, which is a problem I have always fought. This was more a full swing thought than short game but I use it in the short game as well.

 

I attended a Pelz short game school about 15 years ago & one of the drills we worked on was hitting 15-20 yard pitch shots with eyes closed. You hit a number of pitches from that distance to get the feel down, then you setup & closed your eyes just before starting the club back. Eventually you could hit the shot just as well with eyes closed as open.

 

I think I will incorporate that into my practice routine. I tend to get "ball bound" on the course and think this would help to free me up a bit. I typically work on my short game a minimum of 4 days a week but the improvement on the course has been very slow. There are days when I feel like I own it and will never blade the ball again and then there are the days when I regress and feel like I'll always have this affliction. It used to drive me up the wall considering how much work I put in but I'm trying to embrace getting fractionally better each time I play.

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