3 things golfers need to close out a good round, every time

Last week the PGA TOUR descended on Hilton Head Island for the 2020 RBC Heritage, and the second event in the return of competition after the Covid-19 lockdown.

Harbour Town Golf Links provided a spectacular canvas on which some of the game’s best showed off their skills.  It was a birdie-fest and at one stage in the final round it seemed that all and sundry were in contention to win and don the Tartan Jacket.  In the end, Webb Simpson separated himself from the peloton and accelerated to victory with a blend of well-positioned tee-shots, precision iron-play, and a masterful putting performance.

Not to be discounted was Simpson’s mental acumen and his performance under mounting pressure over the back nine.  It was a joy to behold and I am thankful that I had a front-row seat to the display.  

It was truly a masterclass and there are a number of lessons that golfers of all skill levels can learn from Webb.

1. Occupy Your Mind

I was privy to a fascinating conversation between Webb and his longtime caddy, Paul Tesori, as they were walking up the final fairway.

At this stage, Webb had the lead and he had hit his tee-shot into the fairway.  While they were making their way to the golf ball, Paul mentioned to Webb that he wanted to confirm a yardage to a slope that was close to the end of the fairway.  He wanted this because that slope may come into play under different wind conditions.  So he went ahead and checked and charted the yardage, in his words, “for next year.”

It was a fascinating interaction, given that Webb was in the throws of winning a tournament, but it was also genius at its core.

Why?

Webb and Paul thoroughly analyze every shot to a point where there is so much conversation, there is very little chance for Webb’s mind to wander into unwanted areas, where he may begin to doubt himself. Instead, he keeps his mind busy, occupied by numbers and data so he’s always thinking ahead.

Lesson: An idle mind is the devil’s workshop so fill your mind with uplifting, positive, beneficial information.

2. Pick Smart Targets

I will concede that Harbour Town has tiny greens and any shot that finds the putting surface will leave a putt of acceptable length.  That being said, over the final nine holes, while Webb was in search of birdies, he hit his approach shots on the “safe-side” of the flag all nine times.  Never once did he put any undue stress on himself by making a rash decision and potentially short-siding himself.

(Simpson played his last seven holes in 5-under par, including a streak of five birdies in six holes.)

Lesson:  You don’t have to attack every flag to make a bunch of birdies.

3. Have a Go-To Shot

Unless my memory fails me, Webb did not attempt a Fade-shot at all when the pressure mounted and the chips were down.  He went to his stock Draw-shot on every hole, and even though he overcooked a couple and hung one out to the right, he stuck with his guns.

He never departed from his strengths.   Even if the situation demanded something else he went with his “go-to shot” and smartly navigated his way around the tight quarters at Harbour Town.

Lesson:  It is better to have control of only one shot shape, than to attempt to move it in both directions and have inconsistent control of both.

Webb Simpson is a wonderful model for all golfers to emulate. He has overcome obstacles to achieve his goals. He has a tremendous attitude and gets the most out of his game. He remains true to himself, always.  

Do your game a favor, be like Webb!

Golf.com Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

You can learn more about at MarkImmelman.com