• By Joel Streed

The Science Behind Putting Problems

June 24, 2016

Golfer lining up a putt.

It was an exciting finish at the 2016 U.S. Open golf tournament. Dustin Johnson cemented his first major victory by calmly sinking a short birdie putt on his final hole.  But for many golfers, those short puts  can be a nightmare.  Why? The yips!

Charles Adler, M.D., Ph.D., is a Mayo Clinic neurologist who has studied the yips. Long thought to be purely a performance anxiety problem, Dr. Adler is researching a neurological explanation as well.

The yips, affecting a significant number of already anxious golfers during putting or chipping, may be a physical movement disorder and not only the result of undue pressure to perform at the crucial moment of a stroke. In fact, in some cases, the affliction can be likened to writers' or musicians' cramps.

The most common symptom associated with the yips is an involuntary muscle jerk, although some people experience tremors, twitches, spasms or freezing. Because the yips may be related to overuse of specific muscles, a change of technique or equipment may help.

Watch: Video of Dr. Adler discussing the yips.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Adler are in the downloads. 

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