What should you do when you’re in a slump? Follow Brooks Koepka’s lead

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Every golfer will face a slump at one point or another in their golf career, but how you react to it is vital.

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I love a good comeback story. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because I’m attracted to stories of grace and retribution. It was for that very reason, and the fact that golf is just downright hard (and slumps are real), that I was overjoyed to see both Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka play well at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Both Koepka and Spieth are massively talented individuals and they have both occupied the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Ranking in their careers — a pinnacle that has only been reached by 24 men. But golf is a fickle sport, and even the most physically gifted golfers suffer slumps and periods of poor form. As I scrolled down the list of previous No. 1-ranked golfers, I could not find one who had not suffered at least one slump in form during their careers.

Brooks Koepka
‘A lot of tears’: Brooks Koepka shares the low-point of his recent struggles
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If you are struggling with the game just remember you are not alone. Even the best players in the world have periods of struggle.

It’s all but guaranteed that everyone who has played golf for any extended period of time will have to navigate a slump. When you are suffering through the doldrums it sometimes feels like you will never play well again, but that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Koepka shared a couple of post-tournament tips to finding the light at the end of the tunnel.  Consider this nugget:

“There was a period maybe for about two months where I just questioned whether I was ever going to be the same, whether I was even going to be somewhat remotely the same golfer that I ever was.  My knee, no matter how much work and pain I was doing with Derek [Samuel], my trainer, it just felt like it wasn’t progressing. And that’s the frustrating part, when you feel like it’s not going anywhere. But we stuck with it. Those dark places, a lot of tears, questioning yourself, and in dark places mentally. You’ve got to come out of that.”

I want to highlight two of Koepka’s observations:

  • “And that’s the frustrating part, when you feel like it’s not going anywhere. But we stuck with it.”
  • “Those dark places, a lot of tears, questioning yourself, and in dark places mentally.  You’ve got to come out of that.”

When things go awry, the first thing golfers tend to do is panic and make rash decisions. Not so with both Koepka and Spieth, who both appeared resolute and focused throughout their struggles.

Aside from Spieth eventually making a trip to see Butch Harmon, and Koepka parting with Claude Harmon, they both remained consistent and steadfast throughout the trials. I highly advocate the same approach.

Be wary of snap decisions and strive to focus on the cure and not the fault.  It is human nature to do the opposite, but in my opinion this approach can easily proliferate into a negative mindset and a confused and inconsistent approach. Consistency of mindset is crucial if you are striving for consistency in performance.

Jordan Spieth
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Further, be watchful of dark places and train your mind to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. There will always be a light. Sometimes if may be faint, but to get out of the tunnel, you have to move toward the light. I’m certain you would not ignore said light and keep going around in circles until a bigger light comes along. Sadly, I find too many golfers tend that way when they are slumping. 

When something positive happens, even something small, consider it, bank it in your memory and use it as the cornerstone on which you build your comeback. That something small could be a difficult shot pulled off or a challenging save made. It doesn’t matter what it is, just know it could be the genesis of the momentum shifting. 

The comeback may happen quickly, or it may happen slowly. Either way you have to, as Koepka said, come out of the dark places mentally before you have a physical metamorphosis.

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