The putting yips are all golfer worst nightmare. Studies show that golfer who suffer from the yips can add about 6 strokes to your score. Players of all levels have suffered from the yips, from amateurs to PGA professionals. I have suffered them myself, and the tips below helped me get through them.
Solid fundamentals are key to helping cure your yips. You have to understand that the brain is causing you to miss putts simply because you body does not feel comfortable with the shot it’s about to make. Ensure you fundamentals are sound, especially alignment, and this should help you rid your stroke from the yips. To begin, start with your feet shoulder width apart, your arms hanging straight down from your shoulders and get your eyes looking down on the ball from above. Be sure that you’re eyes are either directly over the ball, or somewhat behind it – refrain from setting up with your eyes ahead of the ball. If you do, you’ll affect your swing path into the ball which will likely lead to more problems that it will solve. Doing all this should help to quiet that annoying voice in the back of your head. Once you are setup with these fundamentals, try this first step in my three step process to rid yourself of the yips.
When lining up your putt, rotate your ball so the logo is aligned at your target (make sure your ball is marked to do this within the rules). This is perfectly legal and is a great tip to use all the time. When considering many of the sports out there, pool for example, your eyes are directly behind your line of play – this makes aligning your shot quite easy. In golf, on the other hand, you’re looking down from above, and your aim will be slightly off because of it. By aligning the logo at your target first, with your eyes directly looking down your target line you can be sure your alignment is correct.
Now before you setup to the ball align the alignment aids on your putter to the logo or line on your golf ball. Now align your feet and shoulders, so they are parallel to that line. This will ensure you’re square to your target line. After this is all done, look at your target. I’ll bet you that you feel miss-aligned. Trust me, you’re not. This is proof that your original putting style was starting you offline in the first place.
That’s the first step.
Next step – get you’re mind off the fact that you feel miss-aligned. This one is tricky, but very effective. I got this idea from one of my members who routinely stared at the hole for a long time before putting. It got me thinking; the mind is a powerful instrument. We’ve all seen its effects on our golf swing. For example, self-comments like “don’t go in the water” always result in a hitting three from beside the hazard. So if we focused on hitting the fairway or the green, would the brain make it happen? If you trusted your swing, the simple answer is yes.
Back to the yips, and how that member’s putting style gave me a great drill for curing them. After you’ve setup as seen in Part One, trust your original alignment, say for this specific putt it was dead straight (the red x in the image to the right) . Turn your head in your putting position and focus deeply on where you want the ball to go. In this case it would be a specific spot on the back of the cup. Look at this target, then move you eyes back to the ball. Without wasting any time on second guessing your alignment, make your stroke immediately.
This will help your brain by not giving it anytime to second guess anything. You’re moving directly from target focus to action without and slow time for negative thoughts to creep into your head. It is highly effective.
Use this drill for all putts, and remember to focus on where you are aiming and only that spot. This means that if the putt breaks a foot or is a downhill slider, get your eyes to focus on a spot a different spot as shown by the blue x’s. This may sound familiar, if you’ve ever played a Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf game by EA Sports – aim identical to this for breaking putts.
Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
A very common problem that seems to lead to the putting yips is eye and head movement. I would have to attribute this to the brain wanting to see the results before they happen. The results are never good. To help get rid of this problem, your eyes must be focused on a specific, non-moving target.
Watching your putter swing back, or your ball moving towards the hole is not an option. This will only cause you to miss more putts. Eye and head movement is a killer in putting, as it is pretty tough to feel yourself doing. Try this great drill below and incorporate it into your putting routine to stabilize your eyes and head throughout your putting stroke.
Instead of focusing on the ball when putting, pick a specific blade of grass to focus on between your putter and your ball. Focus on this spot, throughout your stroke and well after the ball has been hit. Doing so will ensure your eyes and head are staying still throughout your stroke. If you want to take it a step further, have a friend place a coin under your ball on the putting green. Putt the ball focusing on keep your eyes and head stationary, and do not lift your head up until you can determine whether the coin is heads or tails.
I hope this drills give you the confidence your stroke and mind needs to rid yourself of the dreaded yips.
6 CommentsLeave a Reply
So, great tips…but…. I’m a low handicap (scratch). Former college player…31 years old. For the last few years I’ve been getting stuck over putts. I litterally can’t take the putter back…it’s awful! Just got back from hitting putts for another hour and feel no closer to working this out. Have you ever heard of anyone having this happen? What in the world do I do? It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to play….that bad!
Hey Josh, sorry to get back to you so late, we missed this comment. First of all, I’m sorry for what you’re going through – I myself had a similar problem, I was unable to bring the putter back on many putts, and just stabbed at the ball. I found a solution to the problem by re-learning the putting stroke. I found that my stroke was very wristy – I went back to a shoulder only putting stroke, where the wrists did nothing, and with a lot of work got my stroke back. Another great drill is putting with only your trailing hand. It’s very hard to yip it. Finally, you need to dedicate some serious time on the putting green. I found my yips crept up when I started “thinking about missing it” on the course. Off the course, I was fine.
I really wish you all the best. Let me know how it goes.
Had it for over 20 years. Stopped playing when I was 16 because the yips made me hate golf. Tried picking up golf when I was around 30. I try a couple of rounds every year. Have fun the first round even though I 4 put almost every green since I am glad for all the other shots that I make that are ok even though I have not played for a long time. the second round it gets annoying…
Reason why I do not give up is that I shoot almost every shot straight, Driver around 320 yards, 4 iron 230 yards, pw around 140, 8 iron 165 yards. Short play is crap since I do not play regularly. But it would return with practice.
Thinking about getting that Bernard Langer putter or start putting from the left. Hit all short puts with the back end of the putter today even though the putter is a 2 way model. (Scotty Camron).
So I’m not alone!
I love and hate this game at the same time. I’ve mastered my driver 300+ and iron play but honestly feel I could miss a putt with the ball sitting on the lip of the cup!
The worst part about all of this is that I consider myself an outstanding putter! I’ve gone stretches where I literally could not miss a reasonable distance putt. Problem now, is that my hands twitch upon impact of the ball during my putting stroke sending the ball wildly off course with horrible pace. It is embarrassing to play in front of others like this.
This all started when I was playing in a match play member/guest event at my fathers club. I had played in the tournament once before and putted like a champ, but year two was a different story as the yips began. Year three I forced a crap ton of beer into my belly and temporarily cured the Yips symptoms and we actually won the tournament. Year four… absolute disaster and here I stand today.
I recently purchased a putting mat for my living room. I always had a very ‘handsy’ putting stroke, meaning that the putter weight was about 100% in my hands away from my body, so I am now working on a more rigid arm-shoulder connection and using my shoulders to go back and forth. It works great on a practice green. We’ll see what happens on the course.
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated! I even tried EFT tapping, I’m losing it!
Hey Johan, thanks for the comment – I’m sorry you’re going through such a tough time on the greens. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to all but give up the game for a period of time. I would suggest you try a belly putter myself – as it has been proven to reduce the amount of movements require to putt. All the best!
Concentration on the process of the putt is important to gaining confidence and being positive with the putter. Trusting your stroke and the outcome it will produce is important.