What you can learn from Jon Rahm’s skip-shot hole-in-one

jon rahm celebrates making a hole-in-one

Jon Rahm's skip-shot hole-in-one was the shot of the week.

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It’s Masters week — my favorite week of the year. Although it looks, and sounds, a little different, Augusta National is still as majestic as ever, and a number of Masters traditions remain. One of those traditions is the practice-round skipping of golf balls across the pond that fronts and flanks the par-3 16th green.

Year in and year out the 16th hole authors some unbelievable storylines and this year it came through once again. During the Tuesday practice round, Jon Rahm skipped a ball (from about 150 yards) across the water, onto the green and into the hole for an improbable hole-in-one.

It was a lightning strike of biblical proportions and was loudly celebrated by Rahm, Rickie Fowler and their caddies.

While the shot was fun, there is a lot you can learn from a shot that skips across water. It can even improve your ball striking and power up your shot trajectory.

Understanding the shot

Due to the fact that every airborne golf shot is spinning backwards, it is likely that the ball will skim across water if its angle of descent is flat (horizontal) enough. The appropriate angle of descent is the key to making the skip shot happen and learning to control this element can improve a myriad of ball-striking, chipping and pitching factors.

Most players, when attempting the skip-shot at the 16th, will use some sort of long iron like a 4-iron and play the ball off a slight downslope. These factors naturally flatten the trajectory of the shot allow it to skid across the water.

The drill

Skipping a golf ball along the water, or in this drill’s case the ground, will almost certainly put you in a powerful impact position — that is, the face squared up, the shaft leaning forward and the face delofted through impact. Further, the body will have to situate correctly to support these positions and the weight shift and pressure transfer will also tighten up.

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To drill the skip shot, select a 6-iron (I know it normally requires a straighter faced club but this is a drill to power up the clubface). Set the ball position around the middle of the stance with your hands slightly ahead of the ball and the button placket of your shirt over the ball, or preferably to the target side of the ball. You should feel more pressure on your lead foot than your trail foot.

From there, while maintaining the weight and pressure on your lead foot, and your eyes trained on the very front of the ball, make a practice backswing and hold the position at the top. Sense the rotation of your core, the stretch and extension in your lead arm, and the fact that you have rotated your body away from the target while still maintaining pressure on your lead leg. Incidentally, your eyes should still be on the front of the ball.

Once you have that sense, you are set up for success. The only key is to deliver the club into the ball with your hands in front of the clubhead, your lead arm fully extended, and the sensation of your leading hand rotated so that the knuckles are pointing toward the ground. 

Apply that feeling as you make your swing and strike the ball with the goal of sending it as low as possible. Use the image of the ball skipping across the turf with a low and penetrating flight.  The lower you can make it go the better, because that will organize you and the presentation of the club through impact in a powerful fashion.

Do this a few times, always keeping your eyes on the front of the ball and learn what it feels like to drive the ball, and not scoop it, into the air. It will impact your iron-game in the most positive way.

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