The yips can happen at any time. It is dreaded by all golfers and like a winter cold, it can linger for weeks. Through my many years of playing, I have experienced my fair share of putting yips for no rhyme or reason. Needless to say, I hope that they do not come back this year.
I cannot remember the longest case of the yips I ever had (likely in the two-week range), but I remember the shortest. It lasted exactly 4 holes! Right now you are probably thinking I am just spinning a wild tale, but I am not kidding one bit.
My case of the yips happened in a tournament about 10 years ago. I was playing in a 3-day military regional golf event and it was during the second day. I was sitting in 3rd place only two strokes back from the leader. After a solid 11 holes (1 over for the day) I had difficult left to right putt that broke 3 feet. The putt was only 5 feet long to begin with and unfortunately I was above the hole.
I went through my usual routine and stood over the ball. As I did, I started thinking and this is never a good thing. The read I had set up for suddenly did not look correct. So I backed off. I went through my routine again and came up with the same alignment. As I walked up to my ball, I did not trust my line, again! Now I was starting to second guess my entire putting routine. All of this took about 1 minute.
I could not wait all day so I stepped up to my ball anyway and putted. Of course I missed by a few inches and fortunately I was left with a 6 inch tap in for bogey. My next hole, I had a 10 foot putt that was flat and very routine. While standing over the ball I convinced myself that I was aimed left; I adjust my putter head and missed to the right leaving me a putt for bogey! Next, I three putted from about 20 feet for a double bogey and on the fourth hole I missed a 3 footer for par. After playing great golf for 11 holes, I lost all my confidence and was sitting 6 over after 15 holes.
I had lost all my confidence with my putter. I could not seem to find the right line or weight. Everything was a struggle. I tried all of my tricks to snap out of my putting funk, but nothing seemed to work. The best I could hope for was to reduce the amount of damage my short stick was causing for the rest of the round. The negative mental thoughts were not helping one bit!
Suddenly on the 16th hole, something change. My yips disappeared as fast as they came. The reason…..I chipped in for birdie! I was off the green about 3 yards and played a little bump and run from about 35 feet and presto, the ball dropped. Feeling confident and very relieved, I played the next two holes 1 under. I finished the round with a 76 and felt fantastic about the score.
The next day I played very well again and finished the tournament in 3rd place, 5 strokes back overall. I lamented a bit about my 4 hole yips, but was very happy with my final results.
The yips can come and go for no reason. As you read above, they can disappear in an instant. I have some tricks to try to eliminate the yips while playing, but they produce marginal results at best. If you have any tricks you use to get rid of your yips, I am all ears!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.