How positive visualization and imagery can improve your golf game

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Positive visualizations can serve a great benefit to your golf game.

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All great athletes have the ability to visualize themselves in a situation before they get there. According to Nick Faldo, “Visualization is the most powerful thing we have.” To me, a healthy imagination is the genesis of everything good, and the power of an image is immeasurable. 

Picture that post-round, ice-cold drink on a hot summer’s day. You can see it; you can almost taste it; you can feel the relief it brings. All of those sensations are a figment of your imagination, yet they seem so real. They seem so real that they will direct your actions toward fulfilling that end — this is evidence of how your mind prepares your body to achieve a goal.

It is this indescribable power inside of you that I want to help you unlock over my next few columns.

Imagery and visualization

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While imagery isn’t a guarantee to instant success, it certainly is a guarantee to put the wheels in motion toward it. Consider this quote sent to me by Dr. Mike Grevlos, professor of psychology at the University of Sioux Falls, “Imagery mirrors perception and action.  In fact, the same neurons fire during imagery that fire during the actual experience.  So, mental practice or imagined performance have real effects.”

In a recent “On the Mark” podcast, Brad Brewer (co-founder of the Arnold Palmer Golf Academies) shared an anecdote of how Mr. Palmer, while in the wintery climate of Latrobe, Pa., would prepare for the Masters by visualizing every shot he would play and how he would play each hole. In other words, his preparation began with visualization and imagery.

The Sherwin-Williams paint stripe

Many moons ago Ben Crenshaw shared a memorable image with me while I was with my brother at the Masters. We were discussing the value of starting putts on line and various ideas and theories to achieve that end. 

I pitched my idea to Crenshaw of picking a spot (down the target line, about 2-3 feet in front of the ball) to roll the ball over. He was animated at my description and exclaimed that he loved the idea. He did however take slight issue with it that he felt it was a little too difficult and perhaps too precise a task. He went on to explain that the precision it required could lead to tension which would compromise the rhythm and flow of the stroke. He also explained that there is always more than one route into the hole depending of the speed of the ball, so being less pedantic about a spot was more up his alley.

The power of positive thought — and how it can help you play better golf

By: Mark Immelman

To that, he laid this beautiful image on me: Imagine a paintbrush, with the width as wide as the cup, that has painted a bright stripe along the line toward the cup. The goal is to roll the ball along that painted “road” all the way to the cup. 

Go and try this beautiful, simple image when you are next working on your putting. Stand behind your golf ball and look down the line of the putt; read the break, imagine the shape of the road and the journey of the ball, including where its apex is located, toward the hole, and while still behind the ball, fix your gaze on the bright road and allow your eyes to drift down the middle of it toward the hole. You may find that your practice strokes become directed by the image you have conjured in your mind. 

Once you have seen it and felt it, address the ball and roll it down your paint stripe. If you fail to keep it on your line, move on to a completely different putt; no block practice over the same putt. Keep to the routine and soon you will begin to see success.

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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