‘I’m starting to take 4 extra pair of underwear when I play’: Lee Trevino talks yips 

Lee Trevino in July at the Open Championship.

Getty Images

Lee Trevino’s subject was the yips. But we got thoughts on Jesper Parnevik, Payne Stewart and underwear, too. 

Of course we would. One of golf’s greatest players is also one of its best narrators, and this was no different. And with Trevino, all you have to do is tee him up. 

On a recent appearance on Sirius XM’s A New Breed of Golf show, he was asked by host Michael Breed whether he and son Michael will play the upcoming PNC Championship with the idea of winning the major-champion-and-relative event, and damn it, they will, but damn it, the elder Trevino’s putter got in the way last year.

But here are his words. 

“There’s no question about it [their competitiveness] because I still play the wedges like I did when I was young,” Trevino said on the show. “Plus my tees are up there so far, I’m actually outdriving the touring pros so Daniel and I are going in with wedges. Last year, I had the putting yips. I could not help Daniel at all; Daniel was on his own. We didn’t do well. The year before, you remember, we were tied for the lead with four holes to go; Justin Thomas and Vijay beat us in that tournament. But yes, I’m planning a little six-day trip to Palm Springs to get ready; we’ll come back on a Monday, leave on a Tuesday and hopefully we’ll do a lot better. 

“But I want to say one thing to you, Michael, about this particular golf tournament. There is no more pleasure in a golf tournament that I’ve ever had — and I’ve won a few — than playing with my son in the father-son tournament. As far as I’m concerned, we look at that as the Masters to us. It’s a Masters tournament to us. We talk about it on the plane coming back — ‘OK, here’s what we did and here’s what we got to do.’ We’re trying to do a strategy here. 

“I’m going to dominate with the driver, there’s no question about it, because I’ve been in the gym — and you’ll see this — I’ve been in the gym, and I’m hitting the ball longer than I did last year. And I’m older. I’ve gone to that crazy, flexy shaft — you know, that $800 job, too — it’s pretty good. So you know, if I can help him on the greens, which it looks like I’ve discovered something.”

What did Trevino find?

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“Shortening my backswing on the putter,” he said on the show. “The yips have left me. I remember reading an article by Parnevik, and he said, if you’re going to yip it, hit it with a yip. So that means take it back shorter.”

Makes sense. Trevino wasn’t done.  

“So it’s interesting, though, you bring up this thing with the yips,” Breed said on the show. “Because there’s a lot of people that have the yips, right?”

“Yeah, they take the putter too far away and they stare at the putter instead of the ball,” Trevino said. “That’s the problem. And what happens is, their eyes follow the putter back, and then by the time the eyes find the ball again, they’ve yipped it. You never yip a putt on the backswing. You always yip the putt when you’re going to hit it. Always remember that. 

“There’s also another way if you have the yips that you can practice — do what Payne Stewart did. Payne Stewart used to look at a target 8 inches right of his ball. He never looked at the ball or the putter when he putted. He lined it up, and then he would pick a spot just to the right of his ball, about 8 inches, and stare at that spot and stroke the putt. It’s amazing what you can do with it.”

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Makes sense, too. Trevino wasn’t done. 

The yips talk ended with this exchange. 

[Dave] Stockton used to do something similar to that, too, where he would look at a spot in front of the ball, a couple inches in front of the ball,” Breed said on the show. “Many players pick out an intermediary target when they putt and then try to roll the ball over that. Stockton was one of those guys who looked at that spot and tried to drive the putter through that. Are you doing something like that when you’re putting, or are you just thinking now just take it back?”

“Hey, listen, I do everything — I one-eye it, I blink. Hey, I’m starting to take four extra pair of underwear when I play now,” Trevino said. “Are you kidding me? I love this game so much.

“You know, I hit balls every day. I mean, I got up this morning at 6 o’clock. I jumped in the shower, I walked downstairs about 6:20 and then I walked and as I walked in the gym, my theater room — I walked by it — and there’s four putters and a bunch of balls. And I’ll hit about 20 balls in the dark. You know, I don’t yip it when I can’t see the damn ball or the putter. It’s good. I like to putt in the dark. 

“That stroke is as smooth as Jack Nicklaus’, boy I’ll you that.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.