Usually, "the yips" take the form of jerking the putt to one side or pushing the putt to the other. It's usually felt by the golfer as a nerve-tingling experience in which he or she feels unable to be steady over the ball, particularly in his or her hands or wrists.
The term "yips" is believed to have been coined by Tommy Armour, who said of them, "Once you've had 'em, you've got 'em."
If you have the yips, is there anything you can do about it? An option not available to Armour, but one being tried by many modern golfers, is the long putter. The belly putter and broomstick putter both are popular with golfers who suffer from the yips because they help the golfer steady his hands - long putters minimize or eliminate wrist action in the putting stroke, and that can help the yips.
A practice method that golfers with the yips can try is putting with their eyes closed. Golf instructor Michael Lamanna has noted that "Research indicates that players with the yips have rapid eye movements during the stroke. The eyes transmit the necessary club information to the brain and the rapid eye movement interferes with the brain/muscle control. With the eyes closed, or focused on the hole, the player receives information about the club head, stroke path and putter momentum through the hands instead."
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Other Forms of the Word: "Yips" is usually spoken as "the yips." A golfer who has the yips might be described as being "yippy," or might describe his own putting by saying something along the lines of "I was a little yippy on that putt." A putt that is missed because of nervous putter is often said to have been "yipped," as in, "I can't believe I yipped that one."