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The Day My Golf Game Died

Updated on May 24, 2012

Golf has been my whole life. My friends and family know how important the game has been to me. It took control of almost everything that I do. Trips had to be planned around golf. Birthdays had to do the same and often caused problems. Nobody truly understood the passion I had for this sport.

I started putting together a golf tournament for my high school classmates and did so every year up until this year. 2012 marks the 25th annual class tournament. I also put together golf trips for 10-12 couples from school and we would spend several days at a golf resort. The golfers played and the non-golfers shopped. We spent our mornings and evenings dining together. What great trips these have been.

I developed such a keen eye for the swing that I gave lessons to my friends and relatives and often times watched them improve dramatically in their scores. It became common knowledge among my friends that I could help them improve upon their game. Actually, several of them have dropped out of the 100's and into the upper 80's.

As for my own swing, I was always told that it was a thing of beauty and the proof was in the pudding. My scores reflected my swing. For the last twenty years I have been a decent golfer with scores in the low 70's and usually never higher than mid 80's.

My true accomplishments in golf are six hole-in-one's, breaking par and scoring a 70 as my best round. With age, I seemed to get better. Golf is probably the only sport where a person can actually perform better with time and do so late into their 80's. It is a game that gets into your blood and stays with you whether you are good or not at the game for most players. Some simply are not concerned about how they play, or what they score. They are on the course for the camaraderie and fresh air.

However, that is not a picture of me. I am in it for those things, but more so for the competition of the sport and the desire to improve. This is where my story comes to fruition. Suddenly, about four weeks ago, my game began to decline. When I say, decline I do not mean that my scores went up a few strokes. I am talking a complete reversal in everything that I do.

As early as six months ago I was still scoring occasionally in the 70's and mostly in the low 80's. I have always had a reputation for changing my swing and I do so just about every week. I watch slow motion swing analysis of a tour player and see something and just have to incorporate it into my swing.

As my scores started declining, I began to change more and more. Suddenly, about a month ago, my game did a 360. I could not hit a drive 200 yards and the hits I did make were pushes, or slices. I started trying every thing I could think of and it just got worse as time went on. Scores went into the 90's and I was scared. This was a whole new experience for me. The guys in my foursome that I usually beat by 10-20 strokes were better now and passing me by.

Then came the real disaster. I started having the yips. I am not referring to the yips in putting that the tour pros get that end their career. I am referring to the yips in my golf swing; something I never heard of until I personally experienced it about two weeks ago.

I would take a couple of practice swings and they felt great. They were smooth with good tempo and had a nice finish. Then, I would stand over the ball and take my backswing and here came the yips. It is hard to explain, but let me try. As soon as the club reached the top of the backswing, there was a sudden takeover by my brain to yank the club down and around my torso. In other words, the club would not follow a path to the target and then make an upward turn and finish high around my head. Instead, it would get to the ball and make a drastic inside swing around my waist like a person that is doing jump rope and starts showing off by swinging the ropes back and forth around his body.

If you were lucky enough to watch Hank Haney try to teach the golf swing to Charles Barkley, you saw a part of what I was going through. See how he starts down and suddenly, out of his control, something takes over and stops his forward motion. That is exactly what happened to me and then followed with the sudden loop around my waist. It was just awful!

Today, I went to the range to try for the last time to fix the problem. Instead, the problem got worse. Everything was to the left or right. Everything was short. My body had no control. It was as though some golf demon had climbed into my skull and was controlling my swing. I believe my golf life is now over. I just do not see any hope. With my knowledge of the swing and my feel for the swing, I should be able to correct the problem and I just can not. It is no longer a physical thing that I can change. It is a takeover by the psyche that I can not compete with. I am going to take time away from the game and see if absence makes the swing grow fonder.

Has this happened to you? Let me hear from you.


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    • discovery2020 profile image

      WILLIAM EVANS 5 years ago from GARLAND, TEXAS

      Ben, you hit it right on the head. I shortened my backswing to the point that I felt it was only halfway back (it was actually parallel) and the yips disappeared. Thanks for your comments. I just now got around to reading them and you were so right.

    • profile image

      Ben 5 years ago

      You are okay. This has happened to me and you go into panic mode. First off, there is no such thing as "The Yips." It is not a disease, so you can't "have them". Instead, you are actually good at yipping, as in it is an action that you are doing. At some point in your golfing life you unknowingly learned how to yip. Now, all you have to do is unlearn or learn not to yip. The easiest way to do this is to shorten your backswing. Make it seem as though you are taking a 3/4 swing. It will go away, probably the hardest with the driver. That is simply bc it is hardest to shorten the driver swing. Once you can do this, they will be completely gone. It is a taught phenomenon that you can unteach. Once you teach yourself not to yip on the range, you'll get your confidence back and start playing well again.

    • profile image

      jeharr 6 years ago

      In order to improve a person must change from what is being done. The problem comes when you can't remember what you were doing prior to the change when the change does not work. I think the comments made already are valuable. With your history there is no question your natural swing is registered in your memory and a rest will help forget all the bad current stuff that is causing you problems. Then just as the other guy stated. When over the ball, think of nothing but hitting the ball.

    • discovery2020 profile image

      WILLIAM EVANS 6 years ago from GARLAND, TEXAS

      That is my plan. Hopefully, not that long. I would go nuts. Thanks for the comments.

    • TheAth1ete profile image

      TheAth1ete 6 years ago

      Don't play for 3-6 months. I've done that before and it's helped me lose all (most) of my bad habits. I'm a 6 handicap and have gone south twice and not playing has helped the most. And remember the one thing to think about while standing over the ball --- NOTHING! Good luck.

    • discovery2020 profile image

      WILLIAM EVANS 6 years ago from GARLAND, TEXAS

      Hi Dave. Welcome back. Yes, I have done all three. Believe me, I have tried everything. The mental demons have taken control just like they did Charles Barkley. Heaven forbid! Thanks for comments.

    • discovery2020 profile image

      WILLIAM EVANS 6 years ago from GARLAND, TEXAS

      Hi Gusser. Yes, I tried that. I have tried every technique there is. Problem is strictly mental and I have to find a way to get rid of the demons. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 6 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      When my game goes south it is usually a combination of three errors: my right hand mis-grips the club, I tend to crowd the ball and I start to play it too far back in the stance - sometimes all three at once. I go through a mental checklist on those three things whenever I am playing seriously. Then, that settled, my only swing thought is keep my head level and pivot the shoulders. Usually works.

    • profile image

      Gusser 6 years ago

      Move your rear foot away from the line of flight SLIGHTLY. Similar to a baseball batter having his foot in the bucket only less drastic. Start with appx 3" off line of flight.


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