Golf Putting yips -2


Dr. Tom Kubistant, CSP

If putting is “the black art of golf,” then the yips is the “black hole.”  Uncontrollably quivering, twitching, and downright convulsing sends many competent players straight to the 19th Hole.  Beyond going nuts with their putting, yipsters lose the inherent joy in playing The Game.  No matter where they are during a hole, there is always that nagging thought reminding they will eventually have to stroke a short putt.  These apprehensions eventually seep into the rest of their games.  A dark cloud usually hangs over yipsters and gloom pervades their entire beings.  If you doubt this, try living with one!

Becoming a better putter is a sequential process enfolding from general to specific.  No one tactic will work in isolation.  One first has to become grounded with the general perspectives and principles before one can effectively employ specific techniques.
Overcoming the yips is as much psychological as it is physiological, mechanical, procedural, and technological.  Every golfer has to develop a holistic approach to putting encompassing all those elements.  Putting is the most mental part of golf.  Especially when afflicted with the yips, each element has to be addressed individually and then reintegrated back into the whole.  This is why it takes so long.  But the yips can eventually be overcome so the golfer actually becomes a better putter.
The following sections have been proven successful by scores of players.  Don’t believe me; find out for yourself.  I have divided them into:  setup positions, stroking techniques, and putting tactics.  Take out your Hi-Liter!
Here are some new applications…a couple of which were submitted by you golfers.  Thank you.  By the way, the best tongue-and-cheek tactic one of you shared was, “Bang the putter against your ankle.  The crippling pain will disconnect any yips!”
• You have undoubtedly experimented with a multitude of putter styles and lengths.  Accept there is no one perfect putter.  Find a pretty good one and stick with it for at least FOUR months.  During this time the only thing to experiment with is the size of the grip.  You see, the answer is not in the wand, but in the magician.
• As you walk up to the ball, do the “swimmer’s shake.”  Roll your head, shrug shoulders, and shake out arms all the way down to your hands like swimmers do when they step onto starting blocks.  Breathe deeply while doing this.  Don’t fret, your playing partners probably won’t notice…they are worrying about their own putts.
• Stand up straighter so the arms hang more.  This way the stroke can swing more from the shoulders.  This may initially feel strange for your eyes may be over two inches farther away from the ball.  However, this new distance is much closer to that of the other strokes in your game.
• Take a wider stance like you would in the wind.  Then roll in or pigeon-toe your feet (like Arnold Palmer) so you feel the pressure on the inner parts.  The feeling of solidly braced legs seems to extend all the way up to the head.
• Spread out your toes inside the shoes.  By being aware of feet and toes you shift sensitivity away from the eyes and hands.
The next six techniques are little movements which facilitate the smooth transition from setup to takeaway.
• As you step up forcefully pound the putter on the ground like Kenny Perry.  This overt movement stimulates a more purposeful mindset.
• Place the putter in front of the ball and then loop it back over like Nick Price.
• Hover the putter like Jack Nicklaus.  This helps with a more rhythmic and lower takeaway.  You can also feel this takeaway going slightly down in an arc, thus minimizing subtle movements in the wrists.
• Put a forward press on the club so it stabilizes both hands in the
same position throughout the stroke.
• Set the putter 2-3 inches behind the ball.  This promotes a smoother throughstroke.
• Gently tap the putterhead a couple of times on the ground before taking it back.  The yips flourish in static tension.  All six techniques engage your natural and purposeful rhythm before the takeaway.

Here are some neat techniques.  Experiment with each of them alone and then in combination with one of the above setup positions.
• On the rehearsal stroke, have the putterhead follow through blocking out vision of the cup.  This will facilitate completion of the actual stroke.
• Purposefully purse or bite your lips during the stroke.  This physical act seems to divert and even dissipate tension.
• Stick out your tongue like Michael Jordon.  This keeps your jaw, neck, and shoulders loose.
• Feel the inner bone of the rear elbow brush across your midsection during the throughstroke.  This simultaneously keeps the stroke on line as well as releases the putterhead.  Some players have combined this technique with the “secret” detailed in Part II (Go look it up!).
• When you feel shaky over a putt, jam the rear elbow close to your navel.  This will restrict the stroke, but it will hold up.  Since this position won’t generate as much power, make sure you follow through.
• Each time you come upon a stroking technique that works–even for just a couple of rounds–store it away in your memory.  Such techniques are valuable in themselves, but they also reveal your ideal putting stroke.