A Lesson Learned: Maintain control

By Michael Breed, PGA
Published on

What a fantastic week – watching the world's best players take on such a tremendous test in Oak Hill and chasing the season's final major. I was lucky enough to have an up-close seat with all week long – and I can promise you that nothing compares to golf at a major championship venue. 

There are so many great stories I could write about for this week's "A Lesson Learned," but really, this week boiled down to one thing for Jason Dufner. That one thing is Control.

1.) He controlled his ball: Did you notice that Dufner always seemed to be in the fairway? He's not the longest hitter, but he knew he didn't need to be. He always seemed to find the short grass on a test that required players to avoid the thick rough. When you are playing in a major championship, accuracy takes on a real premium off the tee. Dufner knew that and executed that really well. In fact, there were plenty of great scores this week. Dufner had a 63 on Friday. Webb Simpson had a 64 on Friday as well. There were a host of 65s. You can't shoot those numbers at Oak Hill unless you can find the fairway.

2.) He controlled himself: Jason stays outwardly calm. It's tough to read if he's up or he's down. I'm sure he has a great competitive spirit that burns inside him – all champions do. But physically, mentally, emotionally, Jason stayed at an even keel and never let himself get beat up by his surroundings. All golfers can take a lesson from this. 

3.) He controlled his positioning: On the rare occasion that Jason missed a fairway, he always seemed to miss on the correct side. If he missed a green, the same thing. It was masterful. He knows how to 'tack' a course.' What that means is, he always had the correct angle in from the rough or a bunker – he seemed to always give himself a chance to save par. If the pin is on the left, you come in from the right. Same thing if it's on the right, you come in from the left. 

He was seldom above the hole – keeping the ball between the front edge and the flag, thus slowing down the green speed. He was constantly playing on slower greens because most of his putts were uphill. These are easy concepts that too many golfers miss. Control your positioning, you'll have a better control of your score.

4.) Finally, he controlled his ego:  One of the many things I love about Jason Dufner is that he's not a chest-pounder. He doesn't need to pump himself up or let others know how great he is, how great his shot was, how accomplished his career has been. He said in his press conference after that winning the PGA Championship would "change his life, but it won't change me." That's an awesome and powerful statement.

Golf at a major championship is very different than golf at a regular PGA Tour event – and of course, that's very different than golf at your local course. That said, the same principle of CONTROL that helped Jason Dufner win this PGA Championship can help you play better golf, too.

Michael Breed is the 2012 PGA National Teacher of the Year. He is the host of "The Golf Fix with Michael Breed' on The Golf Channel and the Director of Instruction at the Michael Breed Golf Academy at Metropolitan Woods in New York. You can visit him at his website and follow him on Twitter at @MichaelBreed.