Sports psychologists will tell you it's just anxiety and nervousness, but the Mayo Clinic, after studying more than 70 golfers, says there may be true physical symptoms -- a subtle jerk before that easy putt. A sign of perhaps a repetitive motion injury that causes spasms.
The study is in the journal Sports Medicine, and we have more on our website if you're interested. It's a scene played out on millions of putting greens across the country.
A player chokes and suffers a case of the yips, missing an easy shot. The "yips," for those of you not up on the golf lingo, is a condition that causes a player to freeze or jerk when attempting a shot, particularly short putts.
Previous research has indicated that it adds nearly five strokes to an affected golfer's 18-hole score. Sports psychologists and golf experts have linked the problem to anxiety, but early results from a Mayo Clinic study is adding to a growing body of evidence that there may be a physical cause as well.
The study of more than 70 golfers finds more than half had true physical symptoms like jerking before a putt, while just over 25% reported feelings of nervousness or a rush of anxiety. The sports researchers say the results suggest say some golfers, especially longtime players, may be suffering from a disorder linked to repetitive motion, that causes spasms.
They note that professional musicians, who must assume unnatural postures for prolonged periods, often have similar symptoms. The researchers are now planning a "yipper" golf tournament to study the condition more closely and to see if certain medications may help. The study was conducted by the Mayo Clinic and is published in the journal Sports Medicine.