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The greatest evil in the game of golf

You may fuss at your pathetic slice or your hateful hook. You may have perfected the chili dip by long repetition. You may thunder at your inability to extract a golf ball from a bed of sand in fewer than three strokes without a backhoe.

You may rage – understandably so – at the demon shank.

But the most evil, heartless, hateful scoundrel in golf is that despicable sneak, the yips. Anything else in golf, including the shanks, can be cured. Not the yips. Not yet, anyway.

When the golf gods put this game together, they did a great job. They gave it heavenly beauty, infinite variety, a wide range of emotions, fellowship, beer, all manner of good things. It’s a marvelous creation.

But they screwed up. They left the yips in it. Maybe it was just an oversight but I don’t think so.

Yips have no place in golf. I’m serious. The USGA should outlaw them.

You have a game that brings so much joy, that fascinates those who play it as little else can, a game that is a poem unto itself. And you leave in the yips? What the heck?

Yips, by the way, come in a variety of styles. The most common is putting yips, made famous by the likes of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Johnny Miller and Bernhard Langer.

Then there are the chipping yips, which once drove one of my friends to invent the hip chip. And there are also the meanest of the mean, the full-swing yips. The full-swing yips are a federal case.

All of this is washing through the mind because I have been reading David Leadbetter’s book, "Fix The Yips Forever," trying to find a way to help a friend who is afflicted with the full-swing yips.

Leadbetter is one of the game’s leading instructors. Most experts who think they know all about the yips don’t – because they’ve never had them. Leadbetter has. He went through many years of full-swing yips, swatting a couple of sleeves of balls off the tee into the scenery every round he played. The way it happened to Ian Baker-Finch and Seve Ballesteros, among others.

Leadbetter fixed his full-swing yips. Fixed, not cured, because he did it with tricky stuff like not looking at the ball when he swings. He’ll tell you there’s nothing wrong with that and he’s right. At least he could play again and enjoy it and along the way he kicked some yip fanny.

What causes the yips? Scientific studies have been made. Gurus have theorized. Books have been written. Well, I can tell you. The yips are there for the amusement of the golf gods, the same ones who think it’s hilarious when your ball hits a cart path and bounces out of bounds.

Say it’s psychological, call it neurological, whatever, but if you ask me, it’s them.

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