How to cure my "yips": Buying a belly putter
First shot off the tee, hooked into the woods. Punch out, but catch a tree on the way out. Hit a beautiful save to within 45 feet. Putt to six feet. Putt to save bogey...miss right by four feet. "$*&%!!!"
This is my usual experience on the golf course, and it is in all likelihood the majority of people's experiences. As much as I'd like to say my handicap is in the 6-8 range, based on my rate of play I'd estimate my handicap right now to be around 45, which is why the recent actions of golf's rule-making bodies are so questionable.
Every golfer is looking for a competitive advantage. Sometimes it is with a style of golf ball; sometimes it is with a style of swing. But, by far, the easiest way to gain that edge is with equipment, and the golf club itself. Obviously, nothing can replace pure natural talent and a sweet swing, but golf companies are trying to make the gap between me and Tiger Woods a little bit more manageable.
The fact is there is technology on the market now that does exactly that. Clearly my precision with the golf club, my swing and my strike are in a league nowhere comparable to pros like Tiger or Phil Mickelson, or even a Miami golfer like Mark MacDonald or Brett Tomfohdre, but my equipment can match theirs.
One of the easiest ways to lower your score, and every good golf coach would agree, is to lower your number of putts. Many golfers, me included, will not only keep score of their overall strokes but also their putts. Usually on any given hole my putts range between two and 70, but that is beside the point.
Putting is the part of the game where talent can be overcome by pure mental ability. Reading greens is a skill that comes with LOTS of practice and a solid knowledge of the game, but reading greens is only half the battle.
If you address the ball and there is the slightest thought in your mind that you are not going to putt the way that you want, then you won't. Putting is by far the toughest mental aspect of the game.
One thing that a lot of golfers go through is what's commonly referred to as the "yips." The yips are a time when you have no confidence in your swing, your putting and most importantly your game. I have unfortunately my entire life fought a losing battle with the yips and I'm finally ready to give in. I'm ready to buy a belly putter.
A belly putter is a putter with a regular head but a long shaft that you in turn "anchor" against your body. By doing so, it supposedly will give you a competitive advantage over your opponent, the golf course. The Royal and Ancient (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) have proposed rules to ban "anchoring" in 2016. However, the PGA Tour will oppose the rule change as it claims there is no competitive advantage.
If anchoring gave a true competitive advantage, wouldn't every professional golfer have switched by now? I believe that since putting is the most mental part of the game, the true competitive advantage is in a player's head. If they THINK a belly or long putter will help their game, then it probably will. If Tiger thinks a regular putter is better for him then that is a competitive advantage in and of itself.
The beauty of the game of golf compared to other sports is the fact that the rules remain constant for every player regardless of whether they are playing for relaxation or for a Green Jacket. The PGA Tour and the USGA, which set the rules of golf, are also considering banning the long and belly putters for play at the professional level but not at the recreational level.
This is where things get dicey. Since the inception of the PGA Tour, the rules have been exactly the same for players all around the world. The fact is the game that Tiger plays is the same that I play at Hueston Woods, no different, and theoretically he and I could play a competitive round (you know, except the whole him being good at golf thing).
Those that govern the game of golf MUST make a decision soon, because the future of golf waits. Either the putters are legal or they are not. We cannot wait any longer.
I'll admit it, I have the yips...and a belly putter is just what the doctor ordered.
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