How Matt Jones’ simple (but effective) mindset can help you play better golf

Having been a golf instructor on the European Tour and PGA Tour, I’ve seen first-hand the challenges that professional golfers face. The level of competition increases every season, which means players need to be constantly evolving, and maximizing their skillset. 

It’s easy for players to get lost along the way, searching for the elusive “secret to success,” and because of this many players fall into the trap of keeping a revolving door of coaches and caddies, who come and go in rapid succession.

Because of this, the revolving door on the tour is a real thing amoung players. Coaches and caddies become easily dispensable if things are not going in the right direction for the player.

Except for Matt Jones.

James has remained consistent in his approach to his game throughout his career, and it paid dividends with his win at the 2021 Honda Classic (the second of his 15-year PGA TOUR tenure).  Indeed the 40 year-old Matt has worked with his coach, Gary Barter, since he was a teenager. 

I believe consistency in approach is a precursor to consistency on the course. That doesn’t mean never changing anything; rather, changing things for a specific reason, and then committing to those changes when you do.

So take that mindset, and here are a few more specific things you can learn from Matt Jones’ approach.

1. Don’t waste time over the ball

In my opinion, doubt is one of the biggest swing-wreckers in the game.

Doubt leads tension and tension does not do a free, unencumbered swing any favors whatsoever.

In other words, eliminating doubt would be a good idea, right?

Well it’s simple to do. Just don’t hang around and waste time before you hit a shot.

Matt Jones is one of the best in the game at that.  Before he addresses the ball he takes his time and assesses the shot completely.  However, once he has pulled a club and addressed the ball he has the shot on its way within 4 seconds.

I recommend this approach for players of all skill levels, because hanging around while you are over the ball has never made a shot better, ever.  And as the famous quote goes: “If you  play, play fast.  If you play badly, play faster.”

2. Make your practice swing useful

If you watch Matt Jones you will see him make the same move (in his practice swing) over every shot.  It is a move whereby he allows his lead wrist to stay above his trail wrist beyond impact and midway into the follow-through.

He typically plays a baby draw and the move he rehearses seems to quell the draw a little and keep it manageable.  It softens the draw by keeping the clubface from shutting to the swing-path too much.

All too often I see golfers make random practice swings; if they make practice swings at all.

I am a big proponent of a practice swing or two.  One free swing to loosen everything up and reinforce the feel of the swing of the clubhead.  Thereafter I recommend another practice swing that highlights a feel, or reinforces a certain beneficial swing, or shot-enhancing, move.

A simple thought to manage hooks and slices is to focus on the knuckles of your lead hand.  If you tend to slice the ball too much, make a practice swing where you feel the knuckles (of the top hand) roll under the club through impact and beyond.

Conversely, if you tend to hook the ball too much, make a practice rehearsal a la Matt Jones.  Keep those knuckle above the club and pointing to the sky through impact and beyond.

Both feels will reinforce the appropriate swing feel and clubface appropriations to straighten out an errant ball-flight.  They will also give you a precursor and a singular focus to what you need to do when you hit the upcoming shot.

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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