Jason Dufner's controlled demeanor is a big reason why he is successful. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Jason Dufner bounced back from his PGA Championship playoff loss to Keegan Bradley at the Atlanta Athletic Club a few years ago. And he did so with a masterclass in controlled golf, poise and emotional control en route to a very popular victory in the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
From his run at the history books on Friday (which ended in a tie for the Oak Hill course record) to his playing with the lead on Saturday to his impressive front nine on Sunday, Dufner was impressive at every turn.
As a result there are many lessons we can learn from Dufner and I want to highlight a few of them I believe will have an immediate and positive effect on your game should you employ them:
Swing in balance: Dufner's swing is enviable and there are many aspects to it that are worth emulating. For me, though, everyone should copy Dufner's swing cadence and balance. Every pass he makes, whether with a driver or a wedge, is unhurried, unforced and very balanced. In fact he appears to swing the driver with the same force as he does the wedge. Do yourself a favor and adopt this approach -- commit to swinging at a speed that keeps everything well synchronized and balanced. Then, make sure that every -- and I mean every -- follow-through is balanced no matter the result. I know this sounds cliched, but trust me it works ... to the tune of a major championship.
Don't sweat the small stuff (and it's all small stuff): Dufner is a bit of an enigma to many golf fans. He never appears to react to anything (or it at least appears as much). To me his approach to the game and his reaction to everything on the golf course is highly recommendable. Nothing ever varies, from the speed of his gait to his facial expressions. This is a guaranteed way to remain emotionally even-keeled. Violent emotional swings, either positive or negative, can have a detrimental effect on your game. For the record, I have no issue with showing some emotion, but do strive to keep things as even and balanced as possible to help you keep your swing smooth and poised.
Pre-shot preparation: The name Jason Dufner has become synonymous with the waggle. Indeed, apart from his dead-pan facial expressions it is probably his most recognizable trait. The waggle was made famous by Ben Hogan and many players have used it to properly prepare themselves for the swing and upcoming shot. A good waggle also helps to keep the body in motion and maintain a certain amount of relaxation and "oiliness" in the forearms and wrists -- an area that in my opinion is the most important in the entire golf swing. Hogan refered to the hands and wrists as "the heartbeat of the swing." So do like Duf and get that heart beating before each shot.
Hit putts with dead weight: Dufner is often criticized for his putting and indeed he has not been sharp this season. That being said, I like the way that he controls the speed of his putts, either long or short. Every putt that Dufner hits finishes right around the hole and to me that is a guaranteed way to not only eliminate three-putts but also make more putts. If you are struggling on the greens adopt Dufner's approach and work to hit your putts with dead weight. By that I mean imagine that if the ball falls into the hole it would do so at the last revolution. If the ball is moving at that speed the hole always plays a little larger and more importantly you will leave yourself shorter second putts.
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.