• Ryder Cup: Putt-ing it all on the line

late summer early fall on a golf course with the putting green in the foreground

It's time to tee it up at the Ryder Cup. Teams from the U.S. and Europe will put their golf prowess on display. Often, these competitions come down to a battle on the greens ─ who can sink that all-important three-foot putt. Many golfers, pros included, can struggle with those short putts. Why? The yips!

Dr. Charles Adler 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, which affect a significant number of golfers during putting or chipping, may be a physical movement disorder. They are not exclusively the result of undue pressure to perform at the crucial moment of a stroke. In some cases, the affliction can be likened to writer’s or musician’s 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 from Dr. Adler are available in the downloads.

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