PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Most professionals won’t acknowledge the “y” word, but when you’ve dealt with the yips as long as Bernhard Langer there’s no use in trying to avoid the obvious.
Langer, who is playing this week’s Players Championship by virtue of his Senior Players title last year, said he endured his first bout with the yips in 1976 at the Portuguese Open.
“The greens were lightning fast, and I wasn't used to that,” Langer said. “I grew up on pretty slow greens in Germany and developed the yips right there and then, the first two or three weeks on tour.”
The German said he’s wrestled with the yips four times in his career, working his way through each occurrence with a variety of techniques and training aids. But each time the hardest part was not knowing how long it would last.
“You wonder, will this ever go away and when and how?” he said. “When we're in a dark valley, we can't always see the light at the end of the tunnel and you want to get out of there as soon as possible.”
Langer, who switched to a broom-handle putter early in his career, said the transition to a non-anchored method this year because of the U.S. Golf Association and R&A’s ban on anchoring has gone reasonably well.
“It is harder. I would be lying to you if I said I'd prefer this method over anchoring; I don't,” said Langer, who has won this year on the PGA Tour Champions and has six top-10 finishes. “I don't agree with the ban, because it makes no sense, really. It doesn't. We have bigger issues in the game of golf, and you're taking a method or a club away from amateurs who really enjoyed the game with that style of putting and who really struggle now.”