Yips



Q: Hello, I'm a single figure player who has been trying desperately to get over the dreaded 'yips' for ~5 years now. I've been playing golf for roughly 15 years, I'm now 26yrs old and have previously played state level golf at a very young age.
When I first started playing golf I could sink anything within 6 ft...no problems, it was almost like I had no fear of missing, it was like the ball was on a string.
These days I nearly break out in a sweat just thinking about standing over a small 3 foot putt to save par.
I've tried just about everything to get over my putting woes, I've changed putters, my stance, alignment, grip but nothing seems to work.
Or if it does work it's only temporary.
Strangely enough I putt really well on the practice green, I'll hole all of those 'makeable' putts inside 6 ft. But, when I get out on the course in a competition it all changes....it feels as though I've done all that practice for nothing. I feel totally alien over the ball, it's as though I have no idea what I'm doing, and I have no control over my putting stroke. When I know I need to make the putt to save par or to make a much needed birdie...I jab at the ball uncontrollably. The ball then races 4 ft past the cup and I'm left standing in the same position I was originally in...except my next putt is now for bogey.
Recently I have even considered using a belly/broomstick putter to eliminate this jerking action....although I feel as though this is a last resort.
My long game is great, in fact I can't remember the last time I've hit the ball so well, I have more control over the ball flight and can consistently hit greens in reg...but, cannot convert due to my poor putting, I analyse my game very closely and complete stats after each round, at the moment I'm averaging 37 putts per round, at my peak I averaged 27 putts per round....10 shot difference.
My chipping/pitching is also as good as it's been, the only downfall in my game is my putting. Please help!!
Sadly, I'm now at the stage in my golfing career where I'm finding that I'm not enjoying the game as much as I used to....I know that I have what it takes to play better golf, but cannot get over my putting issues.
I think my putting problem has now become more or a mental challenge than a physical one....I'm starting to believe that the body only does what the mind tells it to do. I've read numerous articles on the 'yips' and know that this is not an uncommon occurrence. What do you suggest I do?
 

A: The yips do start out as a mechanical mistake and soon turn into a mechanical and mental mistake.
The main mechanical error is driving the handle of the putter forward (towards the target) with too much force at the start of the downstroke which causes the putter head to lag too much. This is much the same motion as getting the club stuck behind you in a full swing. The problem with this is that by the time you get to impact, the putter head requires too much manipulation to get into the back of the ball. This manipulation need is most severe on short putts because of the size of the stroke and and lack of time you have to make the correcting manipulation to hit the putt correctly. On longer putts you have more time and a bigger stroke in which to accomplish the adjustments needed to hit the ball correctly. All of this is more critical under the pressure of of the course. I strongly suggust using a belly putter for a while as you cannot over pull on the handle of the putter with it anchored into you body. I also suggust using the claw grip as this puts your right hand in more of a pushing motion like a pool cue stroke. If you are insistent in continuing to want to use a short putter, I suggust copying Jack Nicklaus or even more, Zack Johnson's stroke, both of which are more of a push motion to move the putter head forward from the top of the backswing and through impact.