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The Tour Report

September 25 2012

10:03 AM

On the Mark: Lessons from Atlanta

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Brandt Snedeker's putting stroke is one to emulate if you want to change your fortunes on the greens.
ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM East Lake Golf Club, home of the legendary Bobby Jones, is now home to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- the finale of the FedExCup Playoffs. In my opinion, East Lake is the perfect venue for such a prestigious event. The 7,150-yard jewel poses a complete examination of golf and it tests every facet of the game -- it demands accuracy off the tee to avoid the penal Bermuda rough; it requires the use of every club in the bag; it challenges balance and control as many shots are played from uneven lies to targets that are either above or below you; and more than anything else, it demands well-struck irons into the firm greens, which in turn are lightning fast and undulating.
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The genius of East Lake is how it allows players of every ilk to compete. Need proof? Then take a look at the top few spots on the leaderboard. Through three rounds there was a mix of both power-hitters and precision-swingers with the guys whose games are built on the tenets of accuracy and control winning out. Power guys -- Rory McIlroy, Robert Garrigus, Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson -- trailed the shorter-hitters in Brandt Snedeker, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, and Ryan Moore. After the conclusion of the championship, East Lake once again proved that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In other words, the game may be evolving – the ball may be going farther and power may be the new watchword – but golf is still a game built on spin-control, precision and accuracy. Consider the following stats: Tournament-winner Brandt Snedeker was 2nd in driving accuracy, T-7th in greens in regulation, and 18th in driving distance. Runner-up Justin Rose was T-7th in greens in regulation and 15th in driving distance. Luke Donald (T3) was 22nd in driving distance and T-2nd in greens in regulation and Ryan Moore (T3) was 1st in driving accuracy, 25th in driving distance and T-9th in greens in regulation. The lesson to be learned – power off the tee is certainly nice but it is far outweighed by precision. So develop your swing and your game accordingly, resist the urge to hit the ball too hard and always prioritize control over power. For the record (and in a continuation of the aforementioned theme) all of the top four finishers also had a fantastic week on the greens. Snedeker was 1st in strokes gained - putting, 2nd in total putts per Round and 3rd in putts per green in regulation. Rose was 3rd in putts per round. Donald was 5th in strokes gained - putting and Moore was 2nd in putts per green in regulation. The more things change the more they stay the same. Worldwide, there is constant chatter and debate about golf swing theory and ball-striking technique, but do realize that success is predicated on your proficiency with the putter. I have said it before and I will say it again: Time spent on the putting green is invaluable and critical to success. To that end, if you have been struggling with the putter it may be worth your while to experiment with a “Brandt Snedeker-style” putting stroke. By that I mean a stroke that is shorter, lower (closer to the ground) and a little more staccato. The best way to feel this style of stroke is to emulate Snedeker’s pre-stroke practice swings in which he swings the putter back and forth a few times without stopping as he keeps the path of the blade low and short. To get the cadence for the stroke count “1-2” with “1” corresponding with the backswing and “2” as you make the downswing. As you do this you will notice better and cleaner contact and without a doubt more accuracy and more putts holed -- a la the 2012 FedExCup champion. Good luck. /mi 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.