COLUMBUS, Ga. — When it comes to golf, the only thing Mark Immelman might not do, is actually get to play. And that’s because he just doesn’t have the time.
Immelman is the Director of Golf at Columbus State University. He also gives lessons to all skill levels, from tour professionals, to first timers. He travels the world doing play-by-play for the PGA Tour on both television and satellite radio. His weekly podcast “On the Mark” has been downloaded in 94 countries. He’s a published author. And he’s also a husband and father of two daughters.
So how did Immelman end up with a so many golf jobs?
“The golf teaching became part of my job here as the college golf coach. Through the golf teaching I was working with a few guys on the tour. And a few guys on the tour turned into some broadcasts. A few broadcast radio gigs turned into a bunch of television stuff. And so yeah, I look back now, and I’m like, how did we get here?” says Immelman.
Well, to get here in Columbus, we have to start in Somerset West, South Africa, where Mark was born and raised before making the 8,000 mile trip to play for what was then, Columbus College. Immelman won two national championships in the 90’s with the Cougars, and when he returned in 2001 to be the head coach, he made sure other South Africans got the same opportunities here, at what is now, Columbus State.
“Because it was hard for my parents to keep us over here with exchange rates and everything. There was a family here in Montgomery, and every summer I would go there and work a job and play some golf. And I said to him when I was done, I tried to give him my National Championship ring as a thank you. And he goes ‘no just pay it forward.’ So I promised myself that we were going to do the same thing,” says Immelman.
There are five South Africans on the CSU roster this year, and more than 10 South Africans golfers have already graduated since Immelman took over.
Little did he know that his connection to Columbus started way before college. As a boy Immelman remembers watching Columbus’ Larry Mize win the Masters in 1987.
“And I remember waking up in the middle of the night and watching the Masters and falling in love with the place. And my heroes were Greg (Norman) and Seve (Ballesteros). And then there’s this three-way playoff with Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Larry Mize. And then Larry chips in on my hero,” says Immelman.
Mize chipped in to beat Mark’s heroes back then, and years later, Larry Mize, hired Mark to be his coach.
“12 years later I think it was, maybe even later than that, no. 20 years, I’m teaching said, Larry Mize. And he’s a guy who’s had probably the biggest influence on my life,” says Immelman.
Then in 2008, the Immelman’s became part of Masters history, as Mark watched his brother Trevor win the green jacket. But that week began with Mark debating whether to offer his brother some advice.
“We had chatted briefly the week before and I thought his game was sound, but he just wasn’t getting the most out of it. The putting wasn’t there. And so we were driving up on Sunday to Augusta and I was in the car with Tracy and we pulled off at some Starbucks on I-20 and I just had like this weight on my shoulders like, ‘You’ve got to say something.’ And this is going completely against my grain,” says Immelman.
When Trevor mentioned he needed some help. Big brother Mark stepped in.
“I can help you. He looks at me like this and he goes ‘ok.’ So I said nine o’clock on the putting green tomorrow morning. And we fiddled around out there and it started to get better. And we were doing a little putting drill with a Young Life ball marker that I got from town here. And he was using this as a reference putting over it. And we walked down the first hole and I gave it (the marker) to my dad and said ‘Here’s why your son is going to win the Master this week,” says Immelman.
And that’s just what Trevor did.
Whether it’s helping Masters champions, hosting a podcast or teaching the next generation of golfers, being on the go is par for the course for Mark Immelman. But at the end of the day, his favorite jobs are being a husband and a father.