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Tiger and the Chipping Yips

  |   Newsletter

Greetings Golfers,

Tiger has the yips. Not with the putter, but with his wedge around the green – especially off of tight lies. I’ve heard that he has no problem when he practices or plays practice rounds. But in tournaments, it gets ugly.

I get it. I’ve had chipping yips, and putting yips, and other crazy stuff. In fact, for many years I’ve had a thing with my shadow … I pray for playing on an overcast day. But I’m probably more prone to crazy hangups than most golfers. That’s why I’m so sympathetic to Tiger’s plight, and also why I think I know some ways to cure such ills – I’ve had to.

When we get self-conscious, we’re apt to get in our own way. Things that are normally simple become difficult when we over-think them. For example, walking isn’t too tough, but when you feel people are watching how you walk, it can be difficult to walk with any rhythm. You know what I mean. How about when everyone is watching you hit off the first tee?

That’s when that old line of “just trust it” seems impossible … it’s hard to be natural when you’re too self-conscious. How many people do you know who play better when they drink? Yeah … I know a lot too.

But there are other ways to beat the yips than with drugs and alcohol. Trying something different works well. Trying not to choke or trying to be natural doesn’t work for me. I need to try something different so I can change my focus from negative to positive. That’s why golfers have swing thoughts – it’s a way to focus on something to get you through the shot … rather than focusing on failure.

That’s why I’m such a believer in trying to hit shots and not just swing. Trying to be perfect is the killer. Back to that walking analogy – if you feel you can’t walk “right” try to imitate someone’s walk … like John Wayne … it takes the pressure off. Same with golf – when you’re freaking out – try to swing like Lee Trevino or try to hit some kind of funky shot … just don’t try to be perfect.

Ironically, Tiger has all of the shots … but he’s really lost his confidence. Think about it – maybe the best player of all time is afraid to chip … even the best are still human.


Tom Abts
GM and Head Golf Professional