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The Tour Report

August 18 2012

8:10 AM

On the Mark: Drive for more than show

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Martin/Getty Images
Difficult rough at Sedgefield has forced players to strategically play their tee shots.
ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM I am sure you’ve heard the cliche, “Drive for show and putt for dough.” In many instances that rings true, but this week at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. it is only a half-truth.
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The organizers and sponsors of the Wyndham Championship decided to revamp the historic PGA TOUR venue and the replaced the old Bent-grass greens with Champions Bermuda grass. They also grew the Bermuda rough up to a height of 2.5 inches and coupled with the firmer, faster putting surfaces, the historic venue is proving a complete challenge from tee to green. All of a sudden a premium has been placed on driving accuracy as the rough, described as “brutal” by Gary Woodland, has gobbled up errant tee-shots and made advancing the ball to the green impossible at times. Indeed most of the players who found themselves near the top of the leaderboard through two rounds were those guys whose games are built around accuracy and precision. These conditions highlighted for me a great lesson we can learn from the pros at the Wyndham Championship this week. I am of the opinion that accuracy trumps power off the tee every day. In  layman’s terms -- and as a golf coach, who I highly respect, once ingrained in me -- “The woods are filled with long hitters.” To drive the ball more accurately, there are a few ideas you can employ:
  • Gear down and hit a shorter club: Make an honest assessment of the likelihood of you hitting the ball into the fairway. If that assessment is not too good then go to a club that gives you a better chance of getting the ball in play off the tee. For example, this week, Tour rookie, Harris English (T3 through two rounds) admitted that he has hit a lot of three-woods and five-woods off the tee.
  • Pay attention to your ball position: The ball position can have a huge effect on the direction of your golf shots. Too often golfers misunderstand and/or disregard the location of the ball in relation to their stance and swing. So, as the pros do, monitor your ball position before you check anything else - ensure it is correct and you are more likely to get the ball in the fairway.
  • Pay attention to your shoulder alignment: Too often golfers align themselves by focusing on their feet instead of focusing on their shoulders. Remember that the path of your swing is influenced more by your shoulders than it is by your feet. Therefore, correct alignment of the shoulders is paramount to consistent accuracy.
  • Time your delivery: The most fundamentally sound swing can deliver a huge selection of crooked shots if it is mistimed. Remember that straight shots are a function of a clubface that is square to its arc and square to the target-line at impact. Hence good timing and sequencing is very important. So, spend less time trying to unwind (rotate) your body violently or trying to delay the release of the club in the downswing. Rather, unwind your body and release the club at a speed that promotes a squaring of the face through impact.
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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