The Hacker: Hunter's flop is horrible... but he is welcome to join our club

Even hackers found a place in that glorious Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor last week. None of us were playing, of course, because we don't go in for that sort of thing, but a few shots were stolen from our repertoire. None more telling than Hunter Mahan's chip on the 17th in the final game on Monday which flopped sadly short of the green from about 10 yards away.

Many of us have been perfecting that shot for years. It requires a certain hamfistedness that hackers possess in abundance. That such a calamity can happen to the best reminds us of what an impossible game golf is to get right all the time.

Tiger Woods fluffed a similar chip on the 18th on Saturday and nearly brained a photographer. But as embarrassing as this was, it was less noticed because his partner, Steve Stricker, was already on the green to win the hole and match.

Hunter's horror happened while the whole of the golfing world was watching. His match with Graeme McDowell was the last, with the outcome of the Ryder Cup at stake.

With McDowell on the edge of the par-three green for one, and needing only a half to win, Mahan had to chip it dead from 30 yards to stand even a ghost of a chance.

Did he crumble under pressure? Was it a choke? Or was it an attack of the "yips"? By a strange coincidence, that sort of sporting occurrence was being discussed by the English Institute of Sport – the yips being a psychological condition which results in neuromuscular responses, usually involuntary spasms of the hands or lower arms, which more or less describes my game.

"The yips is one of sport's most misunderstood phenomenons," according to Mark Bawden, the head of Performance Psychology at the EIS. Bawden adds: "Many have thought it is the same as choking, caused by anxiety and pressure, when in fact it is a chronic disorder, much like a phobia."

It was the chipping yips that set my game on the road to its present destructive state. I am slowly winning the battle against the ailment but it still returns to bedevil me at critical moments.

At least Mahan was comforted by his team-mates. When I make a shot like that all I get is a bollocking from my playing partners.

Whenever I try to analyse a bad round to see where it all went wrong, it seems the main problems invariably occur within 50 yards of the pin. Being able to chip accurately is the most vital key toa good game. One of the best chippers in golf is Phil Mickelson, and he was very annoyed during the Ryder Cup when Johnny Miller, a golf star turned commentator, said: "If Phil couldn't chip he'd be selling used cars in San Diego."

An unkind comment, but it carries an element of truth about the importance of chipping to a player's game. If you do have trouble chipping, of course, you can always use your putter if the grass between you and the green is short enough.

I tend to putt from anywhere and I can get quite close at times – especially on a links course, where the fairways can be as close-cut as the greens. It doesn't always work. On the 16th at St Andrews' Old Course I once three-putted before I managed to reach the green.

Having the Ryder Cup in South Wales was a tremendous experience and especially mem-orable for one of our members, Steve, who for months had been bragging that he knew a way to get on to the Twenty Ten course for nothing. He took many bets but had to pay out because the police caught him as he was sneaking through the undergrowth.

They were very nice and took him back to his car. He might have got away with it, they said, if he hadn't been wearing that high-visibility jacket.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Tip of the week

No 70: The Magic Move

So often talked about, but what is the magic move? Keeping it simple, it is the move to stay (or get back) on plane that good golfers make during the transition from the backswing to the downswing.

Most amateurs will rush this move and come over the top, resulting in a pull or slice.

If you watch the tour professionals as they start their downswing, the clubhead will go back behind them as their wrists flatten their plane, while the club is being pulled down.

The simplest way to get this feel is to set up as if you were going to hit a normal shot. Maintaining your posture, swing to the top of the backswing and stop.

Now imagine you are going to hit a ball at waist height, not the ball on the ground. Your right shoulder drops and your wrists flatten the plane of the swing.

This move is made by all good golfers, and it is effortless once performed correctly.

Try this and you'll gain yards immediately.

Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable