The Putting Yips

The putting yips could be one of the worst things to happen to a golfer. Unless you’ve experienced first hand the fear, self-doubt and embarrassment the yips inflict, you probably don’t understand the fuss.

But they’re real. When your stomach tightens and your mind races you know you’re in trouble. When a short putt becomes ‘mission impossible’, the game is no longer fun and good scores are a rare possibility.

I speak with some authority on the subject because I spent years trying to escape the putting yip wrath. I tried everything. Below is just some of what I did;

  • changed putters (almost weekly)
  • closed my eyes
  • looked at the hole while putting
  • relaxation
  • putted with a two iron
  • using a broomstick putter
  • visualisation techniques
  • used a short stroke
  • used a long stroke
  • had putting lessons
  • putted right handed (I play left handed)
  • read every book or subject I could find on the subject
  • traveled the world talking to learning experts, psychologists and scientists
  • meditation

When I tell you I tried everything I mean it. But nothing worked. Sometimes I would manage a good putting round or two – but nothing would last that long. Most rounds would consist of a short putt or two being yipped so I would never play to my potential. Compounding the problem was excellent ball striking – it seemed the worse I putted the better I would hit the ball. Nothing made sense – I was able to hit a towering long iron over water, trees and a bunker and stop it four feet from the pin. I would then take three putts to get the ball in the hole. Go figure!

Enough was enough! I was ready to quit when I decided to give it one last shot. I knew that automatic golf was working well for my long game. The problem with my putting was that ‘yipping’ had become habit. I needed to start over again…

I bought a new putter and worked on automating my putting game. I drilled myself to follow the automatic process on each putt. Slowly but surely things started happening for me. About a year after changing, putting was no longer a problem. I stopped yipping and I made most of those little putts.

Three years down the track putting has become my strongest asset. My entire game has become better by having more confidence with the putter. I can aim at more pins and hit the driver longer and straighter. Best of all I believe that I can make every putt. No matter what the situation I am able to follow my routine and make more putts (from inside 10 feet) than I miss. The game is good again!

If you’re interested, here is the process that I followed;

  • Changed putters (I wanted a fresh start)
  • Forgot about standard technique – worked on my own unique and comfortable style
  • Automated my putting game – I followed the same routine on every putt I had. This included practice and play
  • Put my trust in the automatic process and stopped worrying about missing and yipping
  • Practiced less. I stopped worrying so much about putting and let nature (my subconscious) take care of things, so there was no need to spend long hours practicing
  • Started to putt better
  • Followed the same automatic routine. Never change

Yipping with the putter makes the game boring and difficult. It’s embarrassing and can leave you feeling sick and angry. If you struggle with putting you MUST learn to automate your stroke and stop thinking about technique. This is the only way. The long list of things I tried gave me no long term joy or results- they are unlikely to help you either. Learn to automate your putting and you’ll cure the yips.

Good golfing,

Cameron (Yip Free) Strachan

Resources: To learn more about how to remove the putting yips from your game check out this page.

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15 Comments

  • Gary Potter

    Reply Reply May 1, 2008

    I can relate. I’ve started my left hand low phase. And, I’m going to download your book.

  • Terry Wilson

    Reply Reply May 20, 2008

    I drive the ball straight, hitting about 90% of fairways aprox. 250 yrds. I hit most greens in regulation only to find myself not only three putting but 4 putting as well. Its embarassing to say the least Help Help and Help if at all possible.
    Terry Wilson

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply May 20, 2008

    Hi Terry,

    The best place to start is with my putting book. You can get a copy at http://www.perfect-putting.com

    I know how embarrassing poor putting can be. Missing tiny putts and three and four putting when you hit the ball so well isn’t much fun.

    Let me know if I can help you further.

    Cameron

  • phillip

    Reply Reply July 15, 2010

    By using a combination of a broomstick putter and your automatic technique I’ve overcome my putting woes but nothing works for my chipping

  • Phillip

    Reply Reply July 15, 2010

    My chipping is disastrous, costing several shots a round. I can usually chip well in practice but even then I have some sessions where I fluff or blade a large percentage.
    I’ve followed all your advice but the chipping yips persist. I’d love to find a cure .

  • Brian

    Reply Reply August 9, 2010

    Cameron,
    I’ve got a strange case of the yips. I’m fine on short and medium range putts, I’m actually a pretty good putter from this range. It’s the long ones that give me problems. And I don’t know why, but I’m fine on a left-to-right breaker. But a straight uphill putt from 30+ feet is a nightmare. Also a right-to-left breaker. I have this fear that the putter face is going to twist when I hit the ball, and it sort of becomes self-fulfilling when I flinch at impact and make poor contact. Sometimes I’ll leave it 10 feet short or be off-line by 6 feet. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply August 11, 2010

      @Brian: You’ve got to stick to the process with the longer putts. It’s like throwing a ball to a target – generally you don’t need to try too hard, you just do it. If you’re flinching and stuffing up the distance by a large factor then you’re getting in the way and trying way too hard. Relax a little and let the stroke flow naturally – you’ll do just fine.

  • Don Hutchison

    Reply Reply October 25, 2010

    Thank you for all your excellent advice and the effort you must have to put in to keep interested parties like myself coming back time and time again for more of “your natural golf’.
    Regards,
    Don (Hutch)

  • Adrian Frost

    Reply Reply November 13, 2010

    Hi Cam,just wanted to let you know that last weekend i had my annual “hackers” tournament.We played Yarrawonga on friday,Tocumwal on saturday and Cobram on sunday.Having joined your web site earlier this year i have picked up on your valuable insights on how to play automatic golf.This year we had 14 starters and in past years have done no better than 12th.To my surprise i finished a respectable 6th and would like to thank you for what you provide to us all whether we be ‘A’ graders or hackers like myself.It has already been mentioned that next year my handicap WILL be reduced! Take Care Adrian Frost.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 13, 2010

      @Adrian – thanks for the kind words Adrian. Glad you had a great event. Now you’ve gotta get out there and have a win. Keep playing freely and don’t worry about your swing or game.

  • John

    Reply Reply August 27, 2012

    no confidence in putts, and is embarassing. Hope you can help

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