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September 9 2012

10:22 AM

On the Mark: Standing the test of time

ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

In week three of the FedExCup Playoffs, the top 70 players congregated at Crooked Stick Golf Club for the BMW Championship.

Play was frenetic from the first hole on Thursday morning. Birdies were the order of the day and the star-studded leaderboard sported a blend of current Hall-of-Famers and a few players who may well earn nomination to the hallowed halls in St. Augustine later in their careers.

One of those Hall-of-Famers, a three-time major champion and past world No. 1 Vijay Singh, topped proceedings. At 49 years young the affable Fijian has not only been, and indeed still is, a great champion, he has always been an effervescent source of advice and counsel to many a young professional. You more than likely will not be able to bend Singh’s ear but you can still learn a thing or two about top-flight golf from watching him and his performance in Indianapolis.

Practice, practice, practice (but with a purpose): I firmly believe that no great endeavor or achievement comes without a great and concerted sacrifice. Singh is the embodiment of that belief. He practices as hard as, and if not harder than, anyone in the world’s game. The beauty about Singh’s practice though is that he never ever hits a practice shot (or putt) without specifically addressing a certain issue in his technique.

Watch Singh on the range and you will always see him making very deliberate practice swings as he attempts to groove whatever swing fundamental he is working on. Further, you will always see him practicing with alignment aids and shafts or umbrellas set in position as aids. (These serve as guides and force him to make the correct body motion and swing shape.) In other words, Singh never just gets out there and beats balls – his work and practice is always directed and focused and the way I see it, if a Hall-of-Fame talent sees the need to do it that way, there is no reason whatsoever that all other golfers should not do so too.

Don’t be afraid to experiment: Perennially a marvelous ball-striker, Singh has battled a balky putter throughout his career and his travails have been well-documented. Over the recent stretch of events, and this week especially, Singh has begun to find some form with the flat-stick though. (Through two rounds Singh took only 47 putts and was second in the field in Strokes Gained-Putting.) In my opinion, aside from his phenomenal work ethic, Singh’s ability to bounce back from putting slumps is his open-mind and the fact that he is prepared to challenge tradition and try anything (within reason) to find success.

Over his career, Singh has used a myriad of short putters, long putters, grip variations and putter styles in an effort to make more putts. So just like Singh has, do not be afraid or resistant to experimentation. That secret that you are looking for may be right around the corner if you are just prepared to look with a different perspective. So keep an open mind and practice with a purpose. Singh does so and it has proved beneficial over a long and healthy career.

Good luck.

Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.

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