Nov 06

The Yips

On the putting green, most golfers play the percentages and lag the ball close to the hole and improve their chances of making the next putt.  Obviously, you should have a higher percentage of sinking a 3 foot putt instead of a 10 foot putt.  But what happens when you create so much anxiety that your putting stroke resembles Charles Barkley making a full swing?   Your hands get sweaty, your heart starts pounding and you dread standing over a three foot putt.   Welcome to the unfortunate world of the yips.


The yips can be defined as the inability to make a smooth putting stroke, particularly due to tension in the hands causing jitters, uncertainty, fear, tremors and a general feeling of anxiety while standing over short putts.

Many golfers, from beginners to professional players, suffer from the yips on the putting green.  Typically, someone who suffers from the yips struggles from short range putts.  They can reasonably perform a putt successfully from longer distances. 

Many golfers who have the yips have a garage full of putters that have not solved the problem.  There is a debate whether the yips is a mental or physical problem.  Some claim that it is a physical problem, and maybe it is a physical problem for some golfers.  In my opinion, if it is a physical problem it would affect a player every time they putt, including longer putts.  However, I am under the same impression of many golf psychologists, it is a mental problem.  The majority of golfers suffer from the yips due to tension, anxiety and fear.  They have a severe confidence issue as they stand over short putts. 

There are many different theories that can help someone who has the yips.  First, players need to relax, calm themselves and visualize making the putt.  Realize everyone misses a short putt occasionally, but it’s not the end of the world.  Practice short putts to develop confidence.  Players can try using a bigger grip to help take their wrists and hands out of the stroke.  In addition, many players try switching putters.  Long putters take the wrists and hands out of the shot while creating a more effective pendulum motion.

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