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Senior Golfer - On The Green

How I gained my freedom from the Yips

The Putting Green

I don't when it occurred, and I certainly don't know how it occurred, all I can tell you is that I got the Yips sometime in the early years of the 21st Century. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, which doctors, scientists, and other reputable persons say "is not a scientific reality," the Yips is an involuntary contraction that strikes golfers when they are about to hit a golf shot, causing it to veer off into new directions.

In short order, the "Yips" are dreaded, feared, and to be avoided at all costs. It can strike a person with drives, short irons, chipping and putting. In my case, the Yips infected my short golf in general and my putting in particular. Let me share with you two stories that illustrate how insidious this malady is on one's golf game.

I was playing in a better ball of pairs match representing the Cog Hill Golf Association against the Brown Deer Golf Association on Dubsdread. On the fifth hole, a Par 5 of 525 yards, I hit a drive and a terrific three wood that landed on the green. My partner and golfing buddy John Leonard looked over to me and said, "OK, great shot, try not to three putt."

Well, to make a long story short, I didn't three putt, I four putted. Yes, a true story! I hit my first putt 10 feet short of the hole, my second putt five feet beyond the hole, and my third putt six inches short and left of the hole.

A couple weeks later, I was playing with my regular foursome when I came to my favorite hole, No.11 on Course No. 3 at Cog Hill. We happened to be playing for some serious money with a lot of skins carryovers when I hit a three hybrid to within 10 feet of the hole, getting ready to putt for a birdie. That's when John looked at me and said, "Your third putt for a bogey is good, Jerry!" Guess what? I three putted for 10 feet to tie John and carryover the skins to the next hole.

To get rid of the yips, I had tried every type of putter I could find. I tried a mallet, blade, short (31 inches), long (45 inches), belly and everything in between. I tried different types of grips-left hand low, crab, craw, and palms together. I tried putters with fat grips, skinny grips, and anything in between. The end result was that I grew more and more frustrated.

Here's the interesting part. I could putt fairly well on the practice putting green, and maybe even on a couple of holes, but then the Yips would eventually take over. I average 38 putts a round. I would shot 82, 84, and have more putts than shots to the green. The Yips eventually expanded from my putting to my short game. I'd either skull the chip, chunk it, or pull it 20 feet left of the target on a 50 foot chip.

It wasn't until a friend of mine who tinkered around with a long putter to solve his Yips came to me that I experienced any relief. He showed me how to properly rip and hold the long putter. He showed me that the long putter was to be anchored in my chest and the movement back and forth was with my right hand acting like a pendulum. He told me that it was a matter of simply letting the clubhead hit the ball and making sure that I followed through to the hole.

Because I had already tried a long putter, I looked at my friend with profound skepticism. I tried his long putter on the practice green and actually made a five footer straight uphill. When I went to the course, I noticed an improvement. I started feeling a little more comfortable with it, enough so that I didn't dread playing golf and having to hit putts.

It wasn't until my fourth round that vindication was mine. I hit another Par 5 in two and Leonard came through with his usual saying, "Don't three putt this green!"

Well, I made a 25-foot putt for eagle, won the team game and the individual skins game. I felt liberated from the Yips. So, as we celebrate our country's Independence on July 4, I'll take this time to also reflect on my personal independence fro the Yips-long live the Long Putter!

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