2 things you can learn from Hideki Matsuyama’s heroic win at the Masters

hideki matsuyama swings

Hideki Matsuyama's game was impressive last week as he won the green jacket.

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Ten years after claiming low amateur honors, Hideki Matsuyama slipped on the green jacket. In so doing, he validated all of the praise and expectation heaped on his shoulders since his win at the 2014 Memorial Tournament.

As a member of the media, I’m supposed to be impartial, but I will happily admit that I was pulling for Matsuyama. Not just because he is a wonderful human being, but also because of the global implications of a player of Asian descent winning on golf’s grandest stage.

Lessons from the 2021 Masters were everywhere you looked. I could talk about the casual, free-swinging Will Zalatoris, or about Xander Schaufele and his run at another major. 

However, this is Matsuyama’s moment and there are two great lessons to learn from him.

1. Get your putter flush with the ground

hideki matsuyama putt
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Matsuyama has battled with form on the greens over the last few seasons on Tour as he’s ranked 165th and 170th in SG: Putting over the last two years.

Ever diligent, he has worked hard on his form and, of late, he has modified his posture and address to get the sole of the putter flush to the ground. In the past he had the toe raised at address, like Isao Aoki or Seve Ballesteros.

Quality contact with the putter is a function of a square strike on the ball, not just horizontally (toe to heel), but also vertically (sole to crown) on the face. Just like your golf clubs, the sweet spot on the putter is centralized on the face. Bounce a ball on the face of your putter and the result will bear this out. If the toe of the club is raised through contact, excess wrist action can proliferate and a ball that is lined up over the sweet spot could still be marginally mishit.

Mishitting putts is a problem for many golfers, especially in the recreational game. Getting the sole of the putter flush to the ground can help with this as it promotes better contact, which in turn leads to better distance control. The end game is fewer three-putts.

To get that sole of the putter flush with the ground, try this easy checkpoint.  Slide a coin under the toe and the heel at address, and if the putter is level with the turf there will not be a discrepancy between the gaps. This is a putter flush with the ground.

2. Short game is about the landing spot

hideki matsuyama chips

Matsuyama had one of his best performances around the greens in recent memory at Augusta National. He was sublime around the greens and appeared to have a great understanding on trajectory, landing spots and release. 

Larry Mize, the architect of one of the most famous pitch shots in Masters history, told me that when working on greenside shots he focuses on is the trajectory and landing spot of the shot.

Mize practices this by laying a hand towel on the green,and hitting shots from different lies and distances toward it.  The goal is not finishing the ball on the towel, but instead landing it on the towel. After he has a distance dialed in, he then plays toward a hole, with the towel in the appropriate landing spot. Even when playing toward a hole his sole focus is clean contact and landing the ball on the towel. 

This drill is a great one for dialing in your landing spot on the greens and improving your game around the greens.

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