The ‘yips’ have ruined many golf careers

2008-10-22 00:00

There are some strange quirks in the game of golf. One of the most remarkable peculiarities is the “yips”. Golfers know exactly what this is, but try explaining it to a non-golfer. The yips are described as an involuntary twitch or jerk of the hands or lower arms usually in the putting stroke or short chip shots. In severe cases it becomes more than a twitch. The unfortunate golfer freezes while standing over a putt and then suddenly jerks the putter head in the general direction of the hole. When this happens there is very little chance of successfully holing out because the ball veers off to one side and often misses the hole by quite a distance. The longer putts don’t pose such a problem. It’s the short ones from 15 centimetres to a metre.

Former professional golfer Tommy Armour is credited with the term “yips” and it forced his early retirement from competitive golf.

The yips is not a medical condition, it’s merely a nervous reaction to short putts. The root cause of the yips is fear and doubt. Fear of missing the putt and doubt in your own ability to hole the putt. To see a yipping golfer miss one of those little tiddlers seems amusing but it certainly isn’t a laughing matter. Many amateur golfers with the yips refuse to be tortured and tormented every weekend and sadly give up the game.

The yips have ruined and cut short many professional golf careers — Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson are some of the big names who have suffered from the yips. The one success story of a professional who has overcome the dreaded yips is Bernard Langer. This was done by perseverance and by holding the putter in a strange and unconventional way. More recently, he has used one of those extra length putters.

Last weekend’s results:

On Saturday, Victoria Country Club held a four ball better ball Stableford competition sponsored by Venn Nemeth and Hart. The winners on 45 points were the father and son combination of Dale and Boyd Michau. Second were Dave Sutton and Brandon Leer with 43 points and in third place were Peter Todd and Charles Severn on 41 points.

On Saturday, Maritzburg Golf Club also held a four ball Stableford sponsored by Savages Football Club. The winners on 47 points were Alastair Mackenzie and Alan Grant, counting out Ian Peel and Christo Van Tonder. In third spot were Mark Kruger and Leo Combrink with 46 points.

From the 19th hole:

A man staggered into a hospital casualty room with concussion, multiple bruises, two black eyes and a five iron wrapped around his neck.

Naturally, the doctor asked him: “What happened to you?”

“Well I was having a quiet round of golf with the women’s captain when, at a difficult hole, we both sliced our golf balls into a field of cattle. We went to look for them and while I was looking around I noticed one of the cows had something white near the tail region. I walked over, lifted its tail and sure enough, there was the captain’s golf ball stuck right in the middle of the cow’s rear end. Still holding up the cow’s tail, I yelled to her: ‘Hey, this looks like yours.’ I don’t remember much after that.”

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