Yesterday I was the guest of a relative at the swankiest private course in town. I get to play there perhaps once per year and always look forward to it. I don’t typically play well there and I’m not a big fan of the architecture of the course. Maybe if I played better there I’d be a fan of the course design, but that’s a discussion for another day.
My cart partner was a 2nd cousin, a solid 9-handicap who hits the ball quite well. Unfortunately this poor chap is cursed with the yips.
What is the yips?
Yips or the yips is the apparent loss of fine motor skills without apparent explanation, in one of a number of different sports. The technical term is focal dystonia.
What this translates into for golf is the inability for the golfer to control the putter, especially on short putts.
It was very difficult to watch my 2nd cousin putt. Even if he was putting for birdie from five feet, he would three putt. The first putt would miss by a foot or so, and he would badly miss the one-footer. On one hole he actually double-hit a two foot putt. I’ve never seen anyone double-hit a putt and I hope I never see it again!
Eventually the group was giving him putts, saying “that’s good” in order to not have to watch him miss putts that were even under 10 inches.
He asked me for advice and the best I could come up with was to swing the putter with his shoulders, keeping the hands and wrists quiet. It seemed his hands and wrists would twerk, jerk, flip, and spazz out on those short putts. Either the advice didn’t work, or he chose not to try it during the round as the yips and putt problems lasted all day.
I thought perhaps I had the chip-yips because my short game is so bad. I realized that I don’t have the chip-yips after yesterday. I’m actually in control of my shots. I hit the chips and pitches solid and crisp, as I intend. My issue is not having a feel for distance control.
I feel bad for ANYONE who has the yips. This is the first time I have witnessed the yips. I’ve heard about it before, but seeing it in person left me (as they say in the UK) gobsmacked.