The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today’s blog is coming from sunny San Diego, and I do mean sunny, with temperatures in the mid 70’s, with lots and lots of sun. As promised, today’s subject will be the dreaded yips. Is there a cure for the yips? The answer is a decided no. I will explain later.

First a brief historical review of the yips. The first well know yipper was the great Harry Varden. Other great players that have had trouble with the yips include, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and probably the most well know modern yipper Bernard Langer. Because these players were in competition for a long time, it was thought the yips were an older players problem, due to the stress of many years of competitive golf. But today a lot of younger players are plagued with the yips and players that are not in a lot of competitions, also have yip issues. There are different forms of the yips in golf. Putting yips, the chip yips, the driver yips, and as far as I am concerned shanking is nothing more than the iron yips.

What is a yip? It is an uncontrollable twitch of a muscle or muscle groups when performing a particular golf shot or stroke. It is accompanied by a black out of the brain. It is worse under stress but it does not mean it is totally  a mental abnormality. The yips have been studied by the Mayo Clinic believe or not, and it is through their work, that it has been shown that one of the causes of the yips may be due to the repetitive  nature of certain golf shots, namely putting. That is why grip changes have helped a lot people with the yips. Even if you are not a yip sufferer, I would suggest you read the Mayo Clinic study. It is found on their web site and it is fascinating reading.

Why can’t the yips be cured? It is not a disease. It is a symptom. To put it another way Tuberculosis is a disease, anemia is a symptom. There are many causes of anemia. You have to find the cause of the anemia and then you treat the disease that is  causing the anemia. There are many causes of the yips. One must find what is causing the yips in each case and then try to treat the cause which will make the yips go away. Lets look at a case sample me. I yip every putt, right handed. I putt left handed and play golf right handed. Putting left handed is a much more natural way for me to putt. I throw left handed, my left eye is my dominant eye and I am much more comfortable over a putt from the left side. Do I hit some bad putts left handed, absolutely,but I don’t yip. I have suffered through the chip yips the last two years. At times, I have done better than at other times. I can tell you the chip yips are more complicated than the putting yips. In order for me to be totally free of the chip yips I will have to find the underlying cause that started them. As yet I have not found it. It will be one of my number one projects for the coming year. Any one who has suffered with the yips knows it is a very helpless feeling. Remember it is not a 100% mental  flaw.   There can be physical problems that may make the yips worse.

The blog will be put to sleep for next couple of weeks or so because of the upcoming college football bowl season. I am a college football junkie and I will watch every meaningful play of every bowl game, just like I did last year. I know there is lots of complaining about all the meaningless bowl games, but I love every one of them. I hope everybody has a great holiday season and a Happy New Year, as the search will continue into 2014.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

I was able to get the 100th round of the year in this week as temperatures were in the 50’s on Wednesday and we went to Fort Cherry where I managed a 77 despite the two week lay off. I hit my irons really well , hitting 12 greens in regulation. I had 3 really bad holes, all double bogeys leading to the 7 over par round. It was a very good day and very glad to get that even 100th round.

Today’s blog will deal with the third A of the mental A’s of golf, a positive one, Awareness. I am going to leave Anxiety last as it is the most complex and there is some research to be done.

Let’s get the easy awareness out of the way first and that is being aware of your surroundings and the things that are going to affect the results of your shots. This is the easiest to explain but sometimes not the easiest to do. When you get on the golf course you must be aware of the wind, that can be ever changing, the hazards of the hole, the condition of the course and the qualities of the greens. Some days you will be better at this than others, but as I say you just can’t fall asleep out there. Sometimes lack of course knowledge can get you into trouble. The bottom line, the faster you get in touch with your surroundings the better your score will be. There are no secrets to this, you just have to do it. In future blogs I will discuss some problems and ways to hopefully get better at being aware of your surroundings.

The second awareness is much more tricky. That is the awareness of what your body is doing, when you are approaching a shot, addressing the shot. and playing the shot. This is where the famous mind body connection comes into play. In other words there can be times that you are too aware of what your body is doing during the execution of a shot. The old paralysis by analysis syndrome. The old what am I doing wrong syndrome.  However, if you are not aware that you are aiming 20 yards right, or some other address problem, or not swinging the way you think you are swinging,  then your chances of hitting a good shot are pretty slim. This will be another subject to cover in more detail in a future blog. One way of saying this is, that you want to be aware of what you are doing but not conscious of what you are doing. Like I said, this is real tricky. This could be one of the big keys to the answer to this goofy game.

Next week the blog will be coming from San Diego, where I will be celebrating the holidays with those dear grand kids. Next week the subject will be my take on those dreaded YIPS. See you then.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

No golf in the Burgh this week as we got some snow, but not as much as predicted, and it has stayed cold. I thought I would discuss the second of the mental A’s and that is Acceptance. If you are going to play golf, and I would think long and hard on this if I was you, there are two things you are going to have to accept.

First, you have to accept your golf swing. Some people like to say that you should own your golf swing, but I am not to sure you would like to buy it. No golf swing is perfect. Every golf swing is going to have little idiosyncrasies and flaws. There are some golf swings that are more pleasing to the eye, and may seem more technically correct, but every swing is flawed. I think the best way to accept your swing is to watch golf on TV, especially on Thursday and Friday. There are lots of odd swings out there on all the professinal tours. This is one of my main beefs about golf coverage. With every odd swing you see, they are always telling you what’s right with the swing. What they should be telling us is all the things that are wrong with the swing. The rest of us out there tinker way way too much with our swings. Remember this one important point, every time you hit a bad shot 85% of the time it was caused by something you did before you swung the club. Now, that’s not to say that the golf swing is not important and you can swing any old which way you want, but with some rhythm and smoothness and turning of the body the golf swing is not an exact procedure. So, accept that golf swing and the game will definitely get better.

Second, you have to accept the vagaries in golf. This can range from missing short putts, to getting a bad bounce,  unexpected playing conditions, bad lies, and how different your game can feel from week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour. In order to play your best you have to accept the fact that you are going to hit bad shots, miss short putts, and have rotten luck. There is one other thing you are going to have to accept also, good luck. Lots of players when they get that lucky shot think they don’t deserve it or it means disaster is right around the corner. Now granted things do seem to even up, but accept the good breaks and try to take advantage of them. If things are not going well, accept it, and in order to get back in the game take an ultra conservative approach, until things start to go your way again. You can not make up lost strokes, and the more you try, by going for pins and cutting doglegs, the more strokes you will lose. Throttle back and get in the fairway and on the green, and if you make a long putt,  pull or push an iron close to pin, accept it, make the putt and you may start  a hot streak. Be ready for anything and accept the fact that your not.

Next week is looking promising to get round number 100 for the season. If the weatherman is wrong I will just have to accept it.

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