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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