The Cause Of Short Putt Yips And How Senior Golfers Can Cure This Problem

If you suffer from short putt yips you have a subconscious conditioned response to that particular situation.

When faced with a short putt, you respond by freezing up over the shot and then follow this by a sudden jerky, stabbing action, rather than a smooth, rhythmical putting stroke. The jerky action is a response to the perception of the threat, in this case the short putt. The perception of this threat triggers a 'fight or flight' response within seconds and when faced with fight or flight situations, your brain fires the neurons required to get you ready to either fight or run. Your heart beat and your breathing quickens and you experience an adrenalin surge, readying your muscles with tension. As a result of this, when you now play the putt, your body makes the jerky stabbing action and you yip.

This response of the yip develops when you perceive you have a weakness in your putting, you have elevated stress, golf or otherwise and when you have suffered one or more frustrating, embarrassing failures.

To recondition the yip you need to do the following:

1. Initially, you need to view the situation differently. Instead of dreading the situation, you need to view it as an opportunity to alter your behaviour and change it.

2. Secondly, you need to relax physically. Work on slowing your breathing and breathing deeply rather than shallowly. Hum a tune or do anything that will relax you.

3. Now work on having a great pre-shot routine. Visualize yourself making the putt, focus on the tempo of the stroke that you will play the shot with.

4. Finally, don't judge yourself on the outcome of the putt, but instead judge the process just discussed and how well you followed this. The outcome will be a result of following this process well.

Work on the four stages above and slowly you will see that your putting action improves and within two months you should be making a much more confident, relaxed and smooth putting stroke that holes all the short putts that you face.

Short Putt Yips and How Senior Golfers Can Cure This Problem

Short Putt Yips and How Senior Golfers Can Cure This Problem

The frustration of missing a short putt is hard to explain to a non-golfer. While missing a three-foot putt might not look like much from the outside, the emotions you feel on the inside usually rage out of control. You will feel angry, disappointed, and even confused. How did things go wrong on such an easy shot? How could you make such a mistake after hitting great shots to get your ball in this position? Golf can be a cruel game, and there are few things which feel worse on the course than missing a short putt after playing the rest of the hole beautifully.

In this article, we are going to talk about the short putt yips. The 'yips' is a term often used when a golfer is struggling with short putts. Even if you haven't gone through this yourself just yet, you have probably seen it affect one of your playing partners. This phenomenon is even capable of striking the best players in the world from time to time. It can be hard to watch someone with the yips try to make a short putt. Despite the seemingly easy nature of the shot, you can almost see the mistake coming in advance. Even the ones that do go in are usually a struggle.

Not only are we going to talk about the putting tips in this article, but we are going to address them specifically from the perspective of a senior golfer. Golf is an extremely popular game among seniors for a number of reasons, such as getting outside, enjoying some light exercise, and spending social time with friends. It isn't all about those other benefits, however – plenty of senior players are just as competitive as they were in their younger days. If you are a senior player, you probably feel the burn to shoot a low score just as you did when you first started playing golf. You don't want to waste shots by missing short putts, and we are here to help.

Let's get one thing out of the way right from the start – short putts are not easy shots. They do seem easy because they take place within short range of the cup, but that doesn't necessarily make them easy. When you combine the need to make a good stroke with the need to hold your nerve, anything can happen from short range. Also, putting surfaces are not always perfect, meaning even a good stroke could lead to a missed putt due to a bad bounce. Don't be too hard on yourself for missing a short putt from time to time, as this is simply part of the game. As long as you work on your technique and mental approach to short putts, a good outcome will be yours more often than not.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Why Seniors Get the Yips

Why Seniors Get the Yips

To be clear, every golfer – young and old – can get the yips. The yips are a problem which can affect virtually any player at any time, although players with faulty putting strokes are more prone than others to suffer from this malady. Strong mechanics will often keep the yips away, so that certainly is a great place to start for anyone worried about missing short putts.

In this section, we are going to point to some of the specific reasons that senior golfers may wind up with the yips. If you fall into the senior category at this point in your life, and you have started to struggle with short putts, there is a good chance the underlying reason for your struggles will be found in the list below.

  • Too many bad memories. Most senior golfers have been playing the game for a long time. While some pick up golf after retirement, most seniors you find out on the links have been playing for decades. Some may even have as many as 50 years or more of experience behind them in this game. All of that experience can provide plenty of positives, including great memories of various accomplishments and visits to beautiful courses. Along the way, however, there are sure to be some negatives. For one thing, you will have hit plenty of bad shots over the years – including many missed short putts. Even a good golfer is going to miss enough short putts to cause some mental scars. If you start to think more and more about those past misses as you age, your confidence may dwindle and you may start to wonder if you still have the ability to make your putts consistently. Young golfers are often full of positivity, in large part because they have not yet seen very many important putts slide by the edge. To putt well in your senior years, you will need to find ways to push these negative memories to the side while keeping your confidence as high as possible.
  • Deterioration of nerves. As we age, we tend to have less of an ability to maintain a steady nerve in pressure situations. It seems a bit odd when you think about it, as the experience of having lived many years would make you think that you would be better able to keep perspective and stay relaxed. The opposite is true, however. Most golfers have an increasing amount of trouble with pressure and nerves as they get older. Since nerves are highlighted on short putts more than anywhere else on the course, you can expect to face a serious challenge in this area during your retirement years.
  • Shaky hands. Rather than a mental hurdle, this point is physical. If you have developed shaky hands as you have aged – which is quite common – you might have trouble holding the putter steady while making your stroke. With the putter head shaking slightly behind the ball, you will doubt your ability to hit a solid putt, and your short putts may wind up missing more often than you would like. So is there anything that can be done to turn back time in this regard? Fortunately, yes. There are steps you can take to quiet your hands and improve your performance. We will address this topic later in the article.

Senior golfers who suddenly have the yips after years of quality putting can quickly become quite frustrated. You certainly don't want to waste shots on your scorecard, and you also don't want to be embarrassed in front of your playing partners. There is no reason to sit back and accept the yips as an inevitability when you can take action to improve your performance right away. With the right plan and plenty of determination, you can take back control of your short putting game.

Erasing Those Bad Memories

Erasing Those Bad Memories

The first point included in our list above was related to the bad memories of missed putts causing you trouble moving forward. It seems silly that a missed putt or two from years ago should be able to stand in the way of making a putt today – but that is exactly how it can play out on the course. To putt at the highest level possible, you need to set those memories to the side and replace them with positive ones.

Here are a few tips to help you replace the memories of past putts gone wrong.

  • Make plenty of putts in practice. With this plan, you are basically going to be replacing old memories with newer ones. By making a lot of short putts during your practice sessions, you will have plenty of recent, positive experiences to draw from when you head out onto the course. Rather than thinking about an important short putt you missed last month – or last year – you will be thinking about all those three footers you may during your warm up session. There is nothing quite like positive reinforcement to prove to yourself that you are capable of completing a task. Make it a habit to finish your warm up session with a series of short putts on a flat section of the putting green. This will give you a great feeling before you walk to the first tee, and hopefully that confidence will carry throughout the rest of the round.
  • Remember that each shot is a new challenge. One of the great things about golf is the fact that the game changes so much from round to round – and from shot to shot. While most of your three foot putts will look generally the same, each one is actually unique. You have never dealt with the exact combination of slope, green speed, uneven spots, and more that you will face on your next short putt. Since golf is a game played on natural grass grown on large courses, you can always expect to find a surprise. This is what separates golf from games like bowling, where the surface is mostly the same from day to day (other than minor oil differences). Since each new putt you face is its own challenge, you shouldn't think that past experiences are going to play a role in the outcome. Do your best to hit each putt properly and plan on being successful regardless of what has happened in rounds gone by.
  • Celebrate key makes. When you make an important short putt in a tricky spot – such as one which is positioned on the side of a slope – take a moment to congratulate yourself and remember the feeling. That way, when you arrive in a similar position at some point in the future, you will be able to fall back on that good memory. For most golfers, this process works in reverse. Golfers tend to remember the mistakes they have made more than they focus on the good putts or good shots. To make progress toward a better game, you need to start celebrating your wins and forgetting about your losses. It is said that the best professional athletes have a 'short memory', which means they quickly forget about their mistakes. Allow your good shots to build up confidence without letting the bad ones get you down.

The last thing you want to do is think negatively while standing over a short putt. Making short putts is all about having your mind in the right place before you start the stroke – and that won't be the case if you are remembering putts in the past that you have missed. Use the tips above to kick out those bad memories and replace them with thoughts of success and achievement. Golf is a hard enough game as it is – it is nearly impossible when you are thinking negatively prior to your shots.

Steadying Your Stroke

Steadying Your Stroke

In addition to bad memories, another possible cause of the yips that we identified earlier was shaky hands. It is common for human beings to develop shaky hands later in life. While this might make playing quality golf a little more difficult, it certainly doesn't have to make it impossible. Specifically, you should be able to get around this problem when on the greens, as long as you acknowledge it as a problem and then take steps to move forward.

The first thing you can do is to put a thicker grip on your putter. By using a thicker grip, your hands will have more to hold onto, and they should be less-inclined to shake. Many senior golfers find thicker grips to be much more useful – and younger players have begun to use them as well. Thanks to their growing popularity, thick putter grips are easy to find, either online or in your local golf shop. Even senior players who don't have a problem with shaky hands should at least consider going in this direction, as a thick grip can simply help the mechanics of your stroke as a whole.

Beyond an equipment change, you can alter the way you move the putter in order to steady your stroke successfully. Basically, this involves nothing more than getting back to the basics of the putting stroke that you probably learned many years ago. The keys to keep in mind here are as follows –

  • Use your shoulders to create the stroke. By moving the putter back and forth primarily with the movement of your shoulders, you will take your hands largely out of the equation. Sure, you are still holding the putter with your hands, and they may still be shaking a bit, but that won't matter much if you are swinging the putter with your shoulders. Take your hands out of the equation and let the rocking of your shoulders produce a smooth stroke with consistent results.
  • Use a wide stance. This is another tip aimed at giving you a steadier motion. With a wide stance, you will be less inclined to fall off balance from side to side as you swing the putter. You don't have to set your feet so wide that you are uncomfortable, but you should at least have them outside of shoulder-width. A wide stance can work well for just about any putt, but this tip is going to particularly benefit your short putting game. It should be easier than ever before to knock in your three footers when you set your feet outside your shoulders at address.
  • Use light grip pressure. This one can be tricky. When your hands are shaky, you might be inclined to hold on tight as a way of feeling like you are improving your control over the club. Unfortunately, holding on tightly to the grip of the putter is almost certain to cause more harm than it does good. With a tight grip, your hands will have more control over the putter than ever before, and that is not a good thing when your hands are shaky. For best results, you should actually go in the opposite direction. Make a point of using a light grip pressure which lets the club hand freely from your hands at address. The putter may not feel very secure at this point, but that's okay. You aren't going to be making a big swing when using your putter, so you should still be able to keep control over the club even with a light grip. After a period of practice goes by, you should get more and more comfortable with how your stroke feels using a light grip. And, since your hands are not going to have as much control over the club with this kind of grip, you should be able to avoid the yips on short putts.

It is going to take practice to iron out the rough spots in your current putting stroke. If you have been having trouble with short putts lately, there are likely some problems that need to be worked out. To get started, use the three tips listed above to move in the right direction.

The Right Mindset

The Right Mindset

While on the course, you need to have a plan for how you are going to approach your short putts. One of the problems that is faced by golfers of all ages is the fact that short putts can sneak up on you suddenly. One moment you are playing a pitch shot from the side of the green, and then you are facing a tricky downhill three-footer to save your par. The pressure of a short putt can come up quickly, and you might not be ready. Knowing how you are going to approach these putts from a mental perspective will help you perform when the moment arrives.

To make sure you are fully prepared to hit your short putts, keep the tips listed below in mind.

  • Focus on your read. No matter the length of the putt at hand, you should always work hard on your read before sending the ball on its way. Even if the putt is only two or three feet in length, take a moment to evaluate the slope of the ground and pick a line. Many of these putts will be played 'inside the hole', meaning that your target line will not stray outside of either edge. However, short putts which are on a particularly steep part of the green may need to give up the hole. Commit yourself to a very specific target and then hit the putt to the best of your ability.
  • See it going in. You can't practice your putt before trying it, of course, but you can visualize it going into the hole. Stand behind the ball and make a couple practice strokes, seeing the ball roll from its current location into the back of the cup. Do your best to really focus and bring this visualization to life in your mind. With that vivid image fresh in your brain, walk up to the ball and knock it in with confidence.
  • Don't look for help. Some missed short putts are the result of a golfer thinking that another player in the group may 'give' the putt. Don't look for gimmes. Instead, take ownership of your game and make every putt, no matter how short. The game is meant to be played all the way from the tee to the bottom of the cup, so don't cut yourself short. By planning on making every single putt, you won't be looking for a handout when you should be preparing to deal with the final stroke of the hole.

Putting can get a little more difficult with age, but there is no reason it has to become a major problem in your game. We hope the advice we have offered in this article will help you to get over the yips in short order. With the yips behind you, it should be easy to get your scores back on track – and your enjoyment of this great game should be improved as well. Good luck!