Symptom: You have the putting yips. Basically, you are not hitting your putts in the direction or the line that you had envisioned, and it is costing you precious strokes on the green.
As you tally your score, you mention your three-putts too, as in “I shot a 93, but I must have had six three-putts. Take those away and I’m at 87…” Your buddies sort of nod their heads in understanding, but of course everybody knows your score is 93, not 87.
Overview: After aligning your ball on your intended line, focus only your putting stroke execution by using the One-Two Stroke Thought: Say (to yourself) “One” as you take away your putter, and say “Two” as you hit the ball. This will help you keep the yips at bay.
Why it works: All golf shots have three main phases: The aiming, the alignment, and the execution, in that order. Most Occasional Golfers inter-mix, or ignore, or sometimes forget to do all three of the phases. This intermixing is what leads to the yips.
Aim -> Align -> Execute for Putting
Putting is no different than a full shot, or a chip, or a pitch — there is the aiming, the alignment, and the execution. However, most high handicappers do not approach putting this way. They sort of “hit and hope”. This lack of systematic routine leads to inconsistency, lots of three-putts, the yips, and big numbers on your scorecard.
Of course everybody reads the break in their putts (aiming). Better players can read the pace and factor that in as well. Still better players align their ball properly. The really good players can do it all, and then execute the shot, to avoid the dreaded three putt. The execution is the key here. The “One Two” Stroke Thought can help you execute a good putting stroke and avoid the yips.
Why do you need a Stroke Thought at all? Left without a task, your mind will wander and start second-guessing your aim, or your alignment. Or maybe you’ll start thinking about the wind, or the comprehensive summary and recommendation report that’s due at work tomorrow, or about the business trip you need to take next week, or whatever. But all of that stuff doesn’t matter right now. Right now, you need to execute this putting stroke, and saying “One – Two” helps you stay in the moment and stay away from the putting yips.
The “One” and the “Two” are for Execution
The “One” is all about eliminating tension in your stroke. Focusing on saying “One” as you take away your putter gives you something to do, and can help you avoid the common fault of watching your putter instead of the ball. It’s an anchor point for your stroke. And, of course “One” comes before “Two”, so you need to say “One” first.
The “Two” helps you stay calm and focused thoughout your stroke. Anticipating the moment your putter strikes the ball and saying “Two” at that precise moment is a calming experience. You are a detached third party looks on, a narrator to the drama, who is tasked with saying “two” at the right
time. This detachment restores your confidence and perspective about the putt, and can give you that elusive commodity, “feel” or “touch”.
Here’s a chance to practice: Watch Steve Stricker putt, and say “One” on the takeaway and “Two” as Stricker strikes the ball. It just feels right, doesn’t it? Have a look:
Taming the Yips
The One-Two Stroke Thought will cure your yips. The yippy stroke leaves the putterhead open at impact, pushing your ball to the right of the cup and leaving it short, or pulling it left and hitting it way past the cup. Your detached, narrator mind knows when that putterhead should hit the ball. The great thing is, if you hit the ball at that precise time, your putterhead will be square to the target line. The One-Two Stroke Thought, then, provides some feedback to you that helps you slow down your stroke, and avoid making a jerky, inconsistent and “yippy” stroke.
As you watch the pros on TV putt, say “One-Two” as they putt. You can get quite good at saying “Two” at just the right time. If a pro surprises you and hits the ball before you say “Two”, often they just hit a really bad putt. The commentators will often say something like “that stroke didn’t look quite right to me”. Try it the next time you’re watching golf on TV! It makes the telecast more fun to watch, and gives you extra yip-avoiding practice that you can apply the next time you get on the course!
Did the one-two Stroke Thought help your putting yips? Think you can roll it a little more like Stricker now? Then tell your friends! Like, Share, Tweet, or Email below!
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