How Ernie Els Responded to The Yips

Overcoming Golf Yips

When Tour Pros Get The Yips

You know I have to talk about Els battle with the yips at the Masters…

Some golfers have a flurry of yips, some golfers see the yips snowball and ruin a round of golf…

Then there are a few golfers who get hit hard by the yips like an avalanche that haunts them throughout a string of tournaments.

Ernie Els, a Hall of Fame golfer, knows firsthand the crushing effects of the yips.

Els has won four major championships with the last one coming at the 2012 Open Championship.

Els has struggled to find his putting form since the 2014 season and the yips have been the menacing culprit.

Els displayed one of the worst cases of the yips in the history of golf, when he six-putted from three feet on the very first hole of the 2016 Masters Tournament.

ELS: “That was a disaster. Anybody who has ever seen the yips, obviously that was the perfect yip stroke you’ve ever seen in your life. It is what it is. The game of golf you’ve got to do some silly things when you play long enough.”

Els made Masters history scoring a nine on the par-4 first hole and finished with a eight-over 80 to share 81st in a field of 89 in the First Round at Augusta National.

With each missed putt, the frustration grew for Els. Els stood over the ball longer and longer after each putt. Els even failed to tap the ball in with one hand while only inches away on his fifth putt watching the ball lip out. On the sixth putt and another one-handed shot, the ball finally dropped to end Els’ record-breaking nightmare.

After the round, Els was at a complete loss to explain what happened.

ELS: “It’s very tough to tell you what goes through your mind… You make some stuff up in your brain. It’s difficult. It’s something that holds you back from doing your normal thing. I don’t know what it is. I can go to that putting green now and make 20 straight 3-footers. And then you get on the course and you feel a little different and you can’t do what you normally do. So it’s pretty difficult.”

When you experience the yips, your mind interferes with what your body wants to do.

It’s often not about missing, but what missing means to you: The aftermath of missing.

ELS: “I can’t explain it. I couldn’t get the putter back. I was standing there. I’ve got a 3-footer. I’ve made thousands of 3-footers and I just couldn’t take it back.”

The interesting thing is that the yips usually affects and infects only one part of your game.

ELS: “From tee to green I’m not bad, but with the putter it was difficult on every hole.”

The ultimate quest for many golfers is search for a strategy to deal with the yips

Els said this on his blog after reflecting on the tournament:

“I think enough has been said about what happened on day one at Augusta and, as you would expect, I am taking the positives from the week and at the same time working hard on negative aspects.”

How to respond to the yips like a pro:

Els said he felt different on the course – something was holding him back. You have to find out the source of fear or tension that shows up ONLY on the course. As I have said before, the yips is often about fear of failure and social approval.

He’s focusing on what he did well during the week. Champions tend to repress the ugly and focus on the positive.

Even though you had 36 putts in your last round, what did you do well and what putts did you make?

Related Golf Psychology Articles:

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1 thought on “How Ernie Els Responded to The Yips”

  1. At the moment of truth I involuntarily feel a shock go through my left wrist that results in a complete whiff from literally 3ft to 2 inches my confidence isn’t shaken but it is def a challenge to my game so overcoming this dreadful involuntary reaction is clearly mental not physical so we will don the scuba gear & go deep into the psyche of a yipper & cure it!


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