Commonly associated with the twitchy two-footer, the yips strike fear into golfers of all abilities. So what would you do if it started to affect your full-swing? Find out how Brendon Todd recovered from this to claim PGA Tour glory
It’s a word that keeps golfers awake. Even those who don’t suffer from the yips shy away from its very mention – fearing it’ll manifest itself out of nowhere. It’s bad enough for the casuals but imagine going through this turmoil when it’s your livelihood. That’s what faced Brendon Todd, who’s just won the Bermuda Championship and Mayakoba Golf Classic within three weeks of each other.
So what happened? Todd can pinpoint exactly when the problems began.
He entered the third round of the 2015 BMW Championship in the final group and, after finding the fairway on the fourth, the next swing would send him into a spiral lasting the best (or worst) part of three years.
“I hit this 4-iron 50 yards right past the bushes, into another set of bushes and I made a seven. It just shook me a little bit.
“Then the shot kept reappearing throughout the fall schedule. I lost golf balls. I was hitting in hazards and hitting it right. A lot of it was mental, some of it was the fact that I changed my swing and I basically battled that scary yip right feeling all of ’16.
“Even if I had a tournament where I didn’t hit it, I was so scared of it I would hit it left and chip and putt my way to 72 and missed a thousand cuts.”
In 2015-16, Todd made only four cuts. Having been in the world’s top 50, he fell outside 2,000. He considered calling it quits at the end of 2018.
How did he recover?
A former college teammate told him to read ‘The Great Ballstrikers’, written by ex-tour player Bradley Hughes.
“It has a lot of pictures and drills and models in there. That resonated with me as a feel player, somebody who doesn’t really want to go try and paint lines with my golf swing, I want to kind of feel a pressure or a force and that’s what he teaches. So the book really hit home with me, and I went and saw him.”
Todd took a six-week break at the end of the 2018 season, working on drills in his basement to address mechanical issues.
The American still had to overcome his mental demons. Coincidentally, former Korn Ferry Tour caddie turned performance coach, Ward Jarvis, reached out.
“(He said) I think I know what you’re going through. I’m a stutterer, I have the same sort of mental breakdown you have. I think there’s a way for us to work through it together.”
Jarvis had Todd read a book by former major league baseball player Rick Ankiel.
“Rick Ankiel is famous for being one of the most talented young baseball players. He basically just fell off the map with pitching, had to reinvent himself as an outfielder. It was a book about the yips. I read it, it kind of helped.”
The American started to see signs of life. A 61 at Monday qualifying earned him a spot in last year’s RSM Classic where he made the cut before regaining his card with a 7th-place finish in the year-end Korn Ferry Tour points list.
Fast forward and after winning his battle with the golfer’s oldest enemy, Todd has just won the last two PGA Tour events he’s entered. Next up? The RSM Classic, where his renaissance began. He couldn’t, could he?
Have you or do you know anyone that’s suffered from swing yips? I’d be interested to hear from you, so let me know in the comments or tweet me.