The Putting Yips
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;
- changed putters (almost weekly)
- closed my eyes
- looked at the hole while putting
- putted with a two iron
- using a broomstick putter
- visualisation techniques
- used a short stroke
- used a long stroke
- had putting lessons
- putted right handed (I play left handed)
- read every book or subject I could find on the subject
- traveled the world talking to learning experts, psychologists and scientists
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;
- Changed putters (I wanted a fresh start)
- Forgot about standard technique – worked on my own unique and comfortable style
- Automated my putting game – I followed the same routine on every putt I had. This included practice and play
- Put my trust in the automatic process and stopped worrying about missing and yipping
- Practiced less. I stopped worrying so much about putting and let nature (my subconscious) take care of things, so there was no need to spend long hours practicing
- Started to putt better
- Followed the same automatic routine. Never change
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.