THE YIPS - A 10 year Anniversary / by Colin Bykowski

It was in the spring of 2005 and I was playing the PGA Tour of Canada event in Stockton, California.  It was the 3rd event of the season and this was the day I received the gift of the "YIPS".  My diagnosis of this dreaded disease was the full swing version.  Many players have experienced putting and like Tiger last week the "CHIP YIPS" however they can affect the full swing as well.  I can remember the moment where they started perfectly, trust me I would love to forget it!  I had hit a high block driver that travelled at least 60 yards off line, like WAY off line.  After that single moment my golf game and life had changed forever.  I proceeded to play a few more holes in full body shakes, with an increased heart rate, severe anxiety and complete fear on hitting a golf shot.  I had to WD, I called an official over and packed it in.  I was devastated!  Unfortunately for me I had to tee it up in another tour event the very next week, I was not in a good state of mind.  My caddy and I practiced hard and the issue was not going to easily go away, every few shots caused me fear and panic and I walked into the next weeks event with zero confidence at all.  I showed up, teed it up and lasted only a few holes before once again withdrawing.  I was crushed, hurt, devastated, worried, stressed and simply disgusted.  I walked off the PGA Tour of Canada and drove 20 hours straight home without stopping,  Once back I met up with the phenomenal sport psychologist Dr. Saul Miller and while I learned some amazing breathing and visualization techniques, the doc couldn't magically make these demons go away.   The "YIPS" resulted in me quitting the Tour and leaving the game completely, I quit golf.  Most people say "ya right you quit", but I did for just shy of a year.  The clubs went in the closet, I stopped watching it on TV, I couldn't even watch the Golf Channel and the thought of putting my hands together on a golf club nearly made me vomit.  Why did this happen and how did this happen? These are the questions I have been asking myself for the past ten years of yip recovery.  While I do feel I have a strong handle on this dreaded curse, forever in the back of my mind I cannot forget that moment.  The "YIPS" are something you learn to accept, cope and deal with, in my opinion they will never completely go away.  You have to trust your visualization process, commit to your consistent pre-shot routine, trust the moment of action/strike and accept the end result NO MATTER WHAT happens after the moment of impact.  

This past week there has been a lot of talk on Tiger and his "CHIP YIPS" and trust me I feel for him.  The "YIPS" are no laughing matter for anybody that plays this game.  Anybody laughing at Tiger's demise is breeding their own golf god karma, so be careful because they are looming inside all of us.  Luckily enough we have seen some hero's in the game that have gotten through them.  Bernhard Langer got through them and continues to grow on already amazing career, Henrik Stenson got through them and won a FedEx Cup.  There are many pros that have gone on to win events after theses symptoms.  I continue to feel like a recovering golf addict and am always working on getting through the "YIPS" every single day of my life.  I am rooting and supporting Tiger and truly hopes he gets through this disease of the mind.