What you can learn from Jordan Spieth breaking out of his slump

jordan spieth holds trophy

Jordan Spieth broke out of a years-long slump last week as he won the Texas Open.

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Jordan Spieth is back in the winner’s circle.  An emphatic victory in his home state silenced the naysayers, charged up his legion of fans, galvanized his team’s belief and, more than anything else, brought palpable relief to Spieth and his loved ones.

The win was a longtime coming and is certainly well-deserved.

For me personally, Spieth’s win was heartwarming, and it took me to a place of reminiscence.  I remembered times of struggle and challenge with players and the emotions and feelings those challenges elicited. I also remembered the times when things worked out and success was relished.

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As an instructor to players at the highest level, it was impressive to watch Spieth’s behavior throughout his winless drought. He was nothing but professional and candid throughout the arduous journey. He was an open book and shared his struggles, shortcomings and the pitfalls he was navigating with refreshing candor.

What was even more refreshing for me as an instructor, was to see was how loyal Spieth remained to the folks on his team.

From experience, I can tell you there is nothing as uncomfortable as being a golf instructor on the hot seat. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone in the limelight like Cameron McCormick, who has been Spieth’s long-time instructor.

As soon as a player starts playing poorly, the teacher will instantly click into “fix-it mode,” as there is always a recency bias and urgency. 

The truth of it all though is that competitive golf is a lifelong pursuit and temporary technical detours, in the interests of playing well, are typically ill-advisable. 

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This is where I commend Spieth. He stuck with his man through thick and thin. Oftentimes with much criticism from outside agencies and pundits, he stood firm and resisted the urge to move on, find another instructor and change technique. (He did visit with Butch Harmon to get Harmon’s take but he specified in doing so that McCormick was his long-term guy.)

This loyalty achieved a few things and, most notably, freed up McCormick to stick to the plan and not get wayward in an attempt to find some sort of quick success.

Always remember, the coach/instructor/mentor/parent feels it just as much as you do. The pressure has a similar effect on them as it does you, so do everything in your power to empower them to the self-belief and confidence to remain steadfast in the face of trial.

Here’s what you can learn from Spieth’s experience.

1. Struggles are inevitable

Golf is hard and struggles are inevitable. But remember that you will find your way through the temporary setbacks and challenges if you maintain focus. Those challenges however are not the end of the world; they are merely a chance for you to show off your complete skill set and mental acumen, just like Spieth.

2. Changes take time

Every great golfer who has went through swing changes has not figured it out overnight. 

Many of the most talented golfers to make wholesale changes have taken a significant time before the change settled. Consider Tiger Woods (multiple times), Nick Faldo and Ben Hogan, for example. These are hall-of-fame talents who made swing adjustments and went through struggles before the changes took hold.

If you find yourself struggling in the midst of changes, remember that the process takes time.

3. Short game is key

Throughout Spieth’s slump he still managed to shoot decent scores, and his immaculate short game is a large part of the reason why. That said, for a little while his putting suffered, but he invested time in that department of the game and his scores eventually trended in the right direction. 

Too often I find golfers who are making a change to their swing focus on nothing else but their swing technique. And with that short-sighted approach their scores suffered, and their confidence inevitably plummeted. So, if you embark on a technique change, ensure that you still spend adequate time on your scoring clubs. 

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