These two drills helped this pro overcome nearly career-ending swing yips

Brendon Todd

Brendon Todd hits a shot on the 2nd hole at TPC Harding Park on Friday.

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Brendon Todd hit 65 shots on Thursday at TPC Harding Park to share the first-round lead at the PGA Championship. 

He had hit countless others against a black bag in an unfinished basement in Watkinsville, Georgia. 

For a few years, Todd couldn’t hit any shots. He had the swing yips. In 2014, he won the Byron Nelson Championship. In 2015, he had four top 10s. Then, from 2016 to ’18, he played in 44 events – and didn’t get paid in 39 of them. Todd, according to various reports, had considered opening a pizza franchise. 

He went downstairs. 

After 2018, Todd took time off. He met with teacher Bradley Hughes. According to Golfweek, he read, at the suggestion of his caddie, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life,” by Rick Ankiel, a pitcher who battled the yips. Todd worked on his swing in his basement. 

Todd filled up a black gym bag and put it less than a foot ahead of his left foot. He placed a shoulder-length-long wooden board between his feet. He slapped the bag with an iron. He did the drill with both arms and one arm. Over and over. 

“Now the first drill for me that kind of helped sure up my golf swing, it was just learning the release pattern of how to take a club up here that is shallowed out and square it back up,” Todd said in a video shared by the PGA Tour’s Twitter account. 

A second drill focused on the follow-through. The bag and board remained. Todd moved the club just forward against the bag. Over and over. 

“So this post-impact drill is a good complement to the impact bag drill,” Todd said on the video. “So we are providing some resistance here with the board and with the bag. And then we are going to push through that resistance. So I’m developing strength and stability in my left side.”

In November last year, Todd won back-to-back events. In three other events this season, he held the lead after the third round, including last week at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. At one point, he was ranked somewhere over 2,000 in the world. On Thursday, he shot a 65 to lead this year’s first major. 

The yips were gone. 

“A year ago I was talking to my manager about potentially opening up another business and not sure if I was going to keep playing,” Todd said after the Bermuda Championship, the first of his back-to-back wins last November. “So to turn it around in one year and regain status and then have a big win this like this is just a dream come true and hopefully a springboard to a really long, successful career out here.”

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor