In my mind there is nothing worse in golf than the putting yips. Absolutely dreadful, and if you haven’t yet experienced the yips you don’t want to.
A number of years ago I experienced the putting flinches so badly I seriously thought about walking away from the game. It was that bad.
I remember feeling nauseous walking onto the green and having the sensation that making some sort of decent stroke was an impossibility. There was one hole in particular where I had a 7 inch putt. I backed away from that putt twice and eventually made this nervous jab, the ball was lucky to fall into the hole. Every putt was a major battle – no fun whatsoever.
I’m glad I don’t experience these feelings anymore. I actually don’t think it’s possible for a yipper to last that long with serious putting yips – the condition puts a huge dent in the enjoyment and success that’s possible.
This week I received two emails from guys struggling with the putting yips. I found this earlier post and there’s some great info here. Worth checking out if you’ve got the yips or generally struggling with your putting game.
This video forms part of my Perfect Putting Platinum System. I shot this video on my mate’s synthetic green in his backyard.
If you have trouble making those 3 and 4 footers then I’m sure you’ll like this video. It’s got some great content and will show you a strategy or two for putting with more confidence.
My new putting product is a mini membership site and it contains over an hour of video. Videos can be viewed on 99.9% of computers and requires no technical skill whatsoever. All you need is an internet connection. Check it out
And before anyone complains I am demonstrating in this video right-handed. I usually play left-handed.
I received the below email from Stevie today. If you’re struggling with your putting I’m sure you’ll get something out of it. I’ve also added some of my comments at the bottom.
Not had a chance to put it into practice as yet as our course is
currently covered in snow!!!
I have read through the book once and intend to go through it again this
week at some point.
Several points you made have struck a chord with me, not least, the
description you make of your own golf game – excellent ball striking
coupled with poor putting leading to reasonable but frustrating scores.
I have been doing the same thing for a number of years – holding my
handicap at 2 but getting more and more annoyed with my putting holding
me back week after week.
The funny thing for me is that as a child I was probably the best putter
in our club. I have spent a lot of thought and effort over the last few
years trying to recover the putting form I had when I was younger.
Always, the reason why I was a good putter then has escaped me and I
cannot find through either thought or practice what it was that I used
On reading your book the startling thought occurred to me…… that
perhaps I always was and still am a good putter and that there was never
any real reason why this should be the case. Maybe I have never lost
this ability just managed to “let myself get in the way of my own
ability” so to speak.
I definitely plan to try your technique because it makes perfect sense.
As pointed out many tasks are completed on a daily basis without really
thinking about them (I sing when driving all the time, not to great
level I might add!!) so why should this not apply to putting? Its not
as though I put any great effort into actually hitting the ball, one
basic swing thought has been working day in day out (touch wood) for a
number of years.
Hopefully the snow will clear soon and I will get on the course to try
I will keep you informed of my progress.
Thanks Stevie for a great email. Sometimes we make the game harder than it needs to be. Yes, I agree with you – your natural putting is still inside, you have to let it out. All the worry and over trying has not helped. If you’ve got the ability to hit the ball well, then you’ve got all the talent and skill to be a fantastic putter.
The secret is to let go, stop trying so hard and let your subconscious take over. You’ll start putting better almost immediately.
For more information about better putting check out my Perfect Putting System
A little three foot putt isn’t really that difficult. In the big bad world of sport there may not be any skill that is easier – but why do so many of us struggle and better yet, how can we learn to make a short putt with confidence?
In a day gone by I would lose sleep and get nervous just thinking about putting. I ruined potentially good rounds by missing the “unmissable” and gifted victories to other players by three-putting when a one-putt was a possibility. All this led to a golf game that left me frustrated and angry.
When enough was enough (I put up with the putting woes for years) I went to work and fixed the problem. It wasn’t immediate but I now enjoy a better putting game and increased confidence – and I don’t lose any sleep!
Here’s the process that I followed (and still do) and hope will help you make more of those little knee knocking putts;
It sounds easy to do but it can be quite a task. The mind likes to spin and go a million miles per hour. It’s the internal chatter that makes putting hard. It disrupts your natural flow and causes you to play safe.
You need to focus on what you want to do – and then commit to the automatic process. I outline the process in more detail here.
Yep. This was a biggie. I realised that spending too much time on my technique was not helping the cause. How complicated is putting? It’s not that hard and I believe anyone that’s been playing for a while has technique good enough to be a good putter.
I stopped thinking about the grip, stance, alignment, and the stroke. I threw them in the bin and have never looked back. I put trust in my instinctive ability to roll the ball across the grass and into the hole.
This might sound radical but I stopped practising putting and I improved. In my hey day I would spend hours on the green, honing my stroke and hoping to find the magic. All this really did for me was to increase the pressure and my expectations. When I didn’t putt well my frustration and confusion got worse. You may need to spend some time adjusting to this procedure (with your added flair) but if you want to make more of those short putts I believe you’ll do so by spending less time practising your technique and more time playing golf.
I’m better now at blocking out distractions. These distractions can come from the outside world (noise, movement etc) but more often they come from the inside. Self-doubt, nervousness, fear and anxiety caused me to miss so many putts that I nearly quit the game. Learning to get into a bubble where I’m in my own little world has enabled to make the majority of short putts.
Here’s three steps that are crucial to getting into the zone so you’ll maximise the chances of sinking more little putts;
To take your putting to a new level you need to learn to forget the misses. Harping on the misses doesn’t help and only makes you tight and nervous. You won’t make every short putt but I believe you’ll make more by following the above steps. Not remembering when you do miss will ensure you’ll approach the next putt with confidence. The choice is yours. We are free to choose what we think about.
The above steps will help you putt better. In fact it will help you play better golf. The process works for all shots and can take your game from good to great and to a master level of performance.
Learning to hole more of those short putts is about mental strength and keeping out of your own way than concerning yourself with mechanics. The intuitive thing to do is to look at your grip and stroke and make adjustments. Golf improvement doesn’t always make sense and I believe you need to take counter intuitive steps to see results. If you can make putts when there’s little or no pressure then you have the necessary skill to be a good putter. If you can learn to automate your putting game you can transform yourself into a great putter and there’s a huge difference between good and great!
Let me know how you get on.
After watching Padraig Harrington sink three good putts in a row to win the US PGA I thought I would give you a putting strategy that has turned my putting from my weakest link to the strongest. This putting system is also part of what I taught Aaron Baddeley when he was still a junior. He has since become one of the world’s best putters (check his stats from 2003-2008.)
The key fundamental for great putting is to learn to automate your putting stroke. You must be able to hit every putt with the same mindset – this is the only way you’ll learn to putt consistently. Trying to consciously control the putting stroke doesn’t work and can lead to the putting yips. This is something I know plenty about. To learn more about playing automatically shoot over here and discover how to think less and play more.
I’m not too fussed about reading greens. Dave Pelz, the leading putting guru, has said that golfers can’t read greens correctly. After testing thousands of golfers he discovered that it’s difficult to read the true amount of break on the greens, with even the best players struggling to get it right. When I read that I decided that if the best players can’t read greens correctly then it was unlikely I could too. So I stopped worrying about the line of the putt and it made a huge difference.
I like to get an approximation of the line. I don’t stress about getting it exactly right – near enough is good enough if you ask me. I have since learned that the correct line is also dependent on the speed of the putt. And since you don’t know exactly how hard you’re about to strike the putt it’s impossible to get the line 100% spot on. What I do like to do is look. I look at the putt from behind the ball with level eyes. It’s no good having your head tilted to the side – keep your head and eyes level on all your putts and you’ll improve your consistency. On longer (or tricky) putts I will walk the length of the putt and get a view from a different angle. All this helps my subconscious get all the necessary information it needs and I’m also consciously able to get an approximation about the line and speed of the putt. All this gives me the confidence that I’m doing everything possible to make the putt. I’m not wasting time or energy thinking too much about the line – my trust is in my subconscious to work out all of the minor details.
I think a neglected area of golf instruction is the walk to the ball. Without knowing the best way of doing this you allow self-doubt, fear and tension enter the system. Not a good thing if you want to make a slick and breaking three footer with all the money on the line. Once you’re ready to go I recommend you start counting in your head. Walk to the ball with your eyes focussed on the ball with your conscious mind focussed on counting.
Note: This helps you get into your own little world. You’ll become immune from distractions like other players, the target and your inner voice. This one step is crucial and will allow you to become the best putter you can be.
Once you get to the ball you want to get set first and look at the hole or target later. I like to say, “set up like you mean business first and then look up at the target if you feel the need second”. Too many golfers get distracted by the target early into the set up – avoid this by making sure you keep focusing your eyes on the ball while you get into your setup position. And don’t forget to keep counting!
If you’ve followed the above steps you’ll be in good shape. Your mind should be uncluttered and you’ll be ready to pull the trigger automatically. There’s not much to do other than trust the automatic process. Keep counting and let your subconscious strike the ball in any way that feels good and right to you. Don’t undo all of your good work by over thinking and trying to control the stroke at the last second. You have to let go and allow your natural instincts to take over. I can promise you that this is an easier and more effective way to putt. It will allow you to make more of those pressure putts and keep three-putting to a minimum.
Improving your putting doesn’t require that you overhaul your technique. I believe that putting technique could be the simplest of all sporting tasks and to improve it requires that you get out of your own way and stop thinking so much.
Your objective is to roll the ball along the grass – this doesn’t require any special talent or physical gift. All golfers possess enough skill and talent to become great putters – the real trick is to get out of your own way and let it happen automatically.
If you’d like to learn more about my putting system you can do so by downloading my FREE putting book. To do so please visit, www.perfect-putting.com.
The putting yips could be one of the worst things to happen to a golfer. Unless you’ve experienced first hand the fear, self-doubt and embarrassment the yips inflict, you probably don’t understand the fuss.
But they’re real. When your stomach tightens and your mind races you know you’re in trouble. When a short putt becomes ‘mission impossible’, the game is no longer fun and good scores are a rare possibility.
I speak with some authority on the subject because I spent years trying to escape the putting yip wrath. I tried everything. Below is just some of what I did;
When I tell you I tried everything I mean it. But nothing worked. Sometimes I would manage a good putting round or two – but nothing would last that long. Most rounds would consist of a short putt or two being yipped so I would never play to my potential. Compounding the problem was excellent ball striking – it seemed the worse I putted the better I would hit the ball. Nothing made sense – I was able to hit a towering long iron over water, trees and a bunker and stop it four feet from the pin. I would then take three putts to get the ball in the hole. Go figure!
Enough was enough! I was ready to quit when I decided to give it one last shot. I knew that automatic golf was working well for my long game. The problem with my putting was that ‘yipping’ had become habit. I needed to start over again…
I bought a new putter and worked on automating my putting game. I drilled myself to follow the automatic process on each putt. Slowly but surely things started happening for me. About a year after changing, putting was no longer a problem. I stopped yipping and I made most of those little putts.
Three years down the track putting has become my strongest asset. My entire game has become better by having more confidence with the putter. I can aim at more pins and hit the driver longer and straighter. Best of all I believe that I can make every putt. No matter what the situation I am able to follow my routine and make more putts (from inside 10 feet) than I miss. The game is good again!
If you’re interested, here is the process that I followed;
Yipping with the putter makes the game boring and difficult. It’s embarrassing and can leave you feeling sick and angry. If you struggle with putting you MUST learn to automate your stroke and stop thinking about technique. This is the only way. The long list of things I tried gave me no long term joy or results- they are unlikely to help you either. Learn to automate your putting and you’ll cure the yips.
Cameron (Yip Free) Strachan
Please head over to my main golf instruction site for all my new info on putting. Here’s my latest blog post on putting that will get you going in the right direction.