News & Tours


Botox And The Yips

By Jim Moriarty Illustrations by Keith Seidel
March 10, 2008

Is their a limit on how far some golfers will go to cure the yips?

Finally some good news from the scientific community. Botox cures the yips. Well, could conceivably cure the yips. And don't those hands look smooth and youthful, too? It's about time science interceded to do for the human body what golfers have been attempting to achieve the old-fashioned way. If clubs can have movable weights to produce specific ball flights, why shouldn't we rearrange a body part or two to achieve similar results, particularly if it can eliminate a stroke as offensive to the sensibility as a howling monkey would be in the Ode to Joy?

The struggle against the putting yips is a crusade littered with experimentation as inventive and as fragile as early flight. Solutions have ranged from self-medication to the pursuit of higher education to technical inventions to purely psychotherapeutic remedies -- not to mention acupuncture, hypnotism, Feng shui, Tarot cards, voodoo and self-flagellation. Of course, the Mount Olympus of focal dystonia (yips) heroics is occupied by one man, Bernhard Langer. Here was -- or rather is -- a man so afflicted with the disease mothers would shield the eyes of their young rather than allow them to witness the act. And yet, through the invention of a grip as odd as the Eephus pitch, he won a tournament twice on the one golf course in God's universe where you can't possibly win without exceptional putting, Augusta National. He is golf's Helen Keller and Stephen Hawking, all in one.

Grips are the urban legends of yip cures. Langer's technique of grabbing his own forearm, the once revolutionary but now mundane left-hand low grip and The Claw in its many permutations don't all claim to directly combat the yips but, rather, attempt to innoculate the player against the possibility of succumbing to the disease as some future date, more or less the way a flu shot works.

Yip-defying inventions have included putter grips the size of beef briskets and putters of all lengths from knee-high to sky-high, often stuck in every manner of nook and cranny from the navel to the sternum, the chin to the armpit. There is no limit to the dark and painful places a desperate player would not put a putter grip to overcome his affliction.

There are instructional cures where you're supposed to putt swaying from any part of the body other than the one that's firing neurons like the Black Cat Screech and Scream on the Fourth of July. There's even a pseudo-psychological method where a highly trained technician smites the body's pressure points with a rubber mallet while you contemplate the underlying emotional causes of your many personal failures -- presumably, your mother loved your older brother best or your father deserted you to run the Tilt-A-Whirl at the Montana state fair.

The Black Plague had a poorer record of succeeding in the human body than the yips has. It seems like the small prick of a needle and the injection of a little deadly poison is well worth the trouble to eradicate the scourge. Who knows? This could lead to other, greater advancements.

Perhaps a set of hips, or maybe just the left or right, could be designed to achieve whatever ball flight you desire. Imagine the possibilities. One day, we'll be able to not only tell our surgeon we want to walk without a limp but to hit a towering fade, too. That being said, I draw the line at breast implants to eliminate my snap hook. On second thought, maybe just the right one.