We Need to Talk About the Yips

The yips – For some reason, we aren’t supposed to talk about the yips. Golfers act like it’s a contagious condition, but in reality, it’s a problem that lives in our heads. That’s not to say the yips aren’t real, because there are many examples of just how bad it can get. In the worst cases, people who have loved the game for decades choose to quit playing rather than continue through the nightmare of missing every short putt. It may sound like just another scary story but those who suffer through the yips can attest to the terror.

Even the golfers who have overcome the disorder are still affected by its lingering ghost. Such specters are hard to shake. They take hold of your thoughts and divert the putter from its proper path.

It’s not that the hole seems to shrink, instead, what drives people nuts is the cup is right there and they just can’t hit it. For the golfer who can’t afford a therapist, the only way to conquer these mental intrusions is to start over and rebuild confidence from scratch. Often times this means a new grip, putter, or perhaps an entirely different stroke. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is evidence to support that this infliction can be conquered. Even still, once you have the yips your game is forever changed.

Most golfers who experience this never fully recover — it’s more like finding a way to live and play with the problem. The idea that this troubling trend could return at any time is a haunting one. Like anything else in golf, the yips take work to get through. They may only last a week or stay for a lifetime, but either way, there will most certainly be scar tissue. It’s up to the player to find a proper rehabilitation plan.

Despite the dark feelings that come with the yips, they can be overcome. Should you ever catch a bad case, don’t lose hope. Putt ‘til you learn to do it well again.


If you enjoy these daily stories, you might like my new book, The Nine Virtues of Golf. It debuted earlier this Summer as the #1 new release golf book on Amazon.

-J