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Swing Analysis: Tiger’s Driver vs. His 3-Wood

I pulled some nice shots of Tiger teeing off at Firestone a few weeks ago and it gives us the opportunity to compare his driver swing, which has taken a lot of criticism for its lack of consistency and accuracy, and his 3-wood, which has been his go-to club in most situations that haven’t required extra distance. It is apparent that his overall motion, with the hands leading the clubhead into the ball and the shaft leaning forward, is more conducive to compressing the ball off the ground, or in this case driving the ball off of a low tee, than it is to delivering an ascending blow such as is needed to get optimum results with the driver. It is also apparent that Tiger’s present driver swing is delivering a more descending blow than would commonly be considered ideal.
Tiger’s 3-wood swing off the tee has a couple of advantages over the driver swing when it comes to the ability to hit the ball straight: because he can plan on a more descending blow with the more lofted fairway wood his right arm can stay bent longer and thus travel further before it straightens, which allows his left arm to stay more connected to his body and his hands and arms to release more around to the left. This type of motion also encourages his weight to shift more directly to the left heel, and the resulting footwork is more stable as the left foot stays more grounded in the impact area. The result is better ball control, but there is a definite difference in distance between the two. I think that the trend for all long hitters will be to move toward a driving type 3-wood that is built more for tee shots, while the driver becomes more of a utility club to be used in situations where distance is paramount and accuracy not as important. If I were working with Tiger I would be focusing on left arm connection and solid footwork, and I would also be encouraging his club makers to come up with a driving club that would measure out to a 3 wood but would hit the ball closer to driver length. With so many guys hitting it so far it becomes more difficult to dial down, especially when Tiger remembers being as long as or longer than anyone on Tour.
At the end of the video I include a side by side of Tiger hitting driver in 2001 with the 2013 version. I think you will find that quite interesting.


7 Responses to Swing Analysis: Tiger’s Driver vs. His 3-Wood

  1. Ivan Fredriksson August 31, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    First of all I really enjoyed this analysis of Tiger and the difference in his swing with the driver and 3 wood. I’d like to point out that you can have the shaft leaning forward with the driver and still have a ascending blow, that is in fact an awesome method for reducing your spin. Having a slightly upward angle of attack and having the shaft leaning slightly forward at impact will reduce your spinloft meaning that the difference between the angle of attack and the dynamic loft will be reduced.

    If you are hitting the driver with an upward angle of attack you need to counter effect that by swinging more out to the right and the same thing applies if you were hitting the driver or any club with descending blow then you need to swing more to the left, this is just how the D-plane works. If you catch the ball earlier in the circle the cog of the club will be poiting out the right and vice versa.

    It seems to me that Tiger is maybe trying to reduce his angle of attack with the driver and therefore he needs to swing more out the right, can’t really keep the arms going left post impact with the driver, no one really does that unless you have a pretty steep angle of attack with the driver, Sergio is a prime example of this, he has a pretty steep angle of attack with the driver. But Tiger wants the arms to disappear post impact and he wants to keep the arms connected with the body after impact but he can’t really do that with the driver due to the angle of attack difference.

  2. Brad Mcgraw September 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Great analysis Wayne. I personally think Tiger is choosing to hit down on the driver on purpose most of the time. Having seen Tiger hit balls from very close, it amazed me how open his stance was to the target thru the bag. He has no choice but to hit down on it to get it online. Hence, the stinger and his alignment are a perfect match.

    Ian, I am never a fan of swinging to the right unless it is a recovery shot. I understand swinging to the right is an option. In my opinion, it is better to close your stance and hit up on it with the same release by moving your ball position forward. Track man and the D plane have certainly been eye openers. They are both helping remove the taboo of aiming right with the driver.

    Wayne’s theme on the release is the gospel to me. The more you can exit to the left, the more consistent your game will be. Tiger has always had a higher exit plane with the driver relative to every other club in in his bag. His driver exit plane is lower with Foley than it has ever been. Swinging right opens the door to more of a two way miss with that higher exit plane. If you aim down the right side of a fairway and hit up, or aim down the left side and hit down, your results are going to me more consistent.

    There is a video out on YouTube with Foley talking about ” how Tiger bombs it “. Google Foley and ” how Tiger bombs it “. It is very interesting on several points. Foley discusses when Tiger wants to rip it, he tries to hit up on it 5 degrees and swing out 5 degrees. He also emulates Tiger’s impact position. It is exactly like Wayne teaches. Wayne’s impact position preferences match up perfectly with reducing spin loft. This is where I believe the conflict lies. Tiger will hit a lot of fairways as long as he hit down on it. Supposedly, his stock average is between 1 and 2 degrees down. The minute he hits up on it with his natural alignment to the left, he will struggle hitting fairways.

    Players with lower swing speeds can afford to hit up and to the right to maximize driver conditions. Ladies and juniors usually do great job at this. PGA players with slower swing speeds can also afford to swing up and to the right. Brian Gay, Jim Furyk, and Steve sticker come to mind. At Tiger’ s swing speed, hitting fairways is a different game. Tiger is the best in the game thru the bag except for driver, and it is not even close. It will be interesting to see if Tiger masters swinging more right with the driver or closing his stance.

  3. John Neeson September 2, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    I still think that Tiger ‘presses’ with the driver. His footwork is ugly and so different from all his other clubs. He’s up on his toes, shoulders are very vertical and square to the ball instead of opening up like he does with the other clubs. If he is keeping it for selected holes only, it sort of pressures hiim to bust it, to justify carrying it the bag for a few shots a round. Why doesn’t he just let the club specs give him the extra 20-30 yds, by swinging within himself?

    I much prefer the 2002 driver swing and his footwork then was pretty flawless, despite the square left foot he was using. With his current release, it might suggest he should be playing the ball more forward with the driver. Or, as you suggested, get a different driving club. Phil’s proven that to be a good strategy with his current modified ‘2-wood’ and he still hits it miles, despite much worse mechanics than Tiger.

  4. Jake Gilmer September 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Another great analysis Wayne. Quick question off topic here: how do you get the tv coverage swings (ie swingvision) into your computer? I’ve seen some really good steady camera shots that I wanted to save on my computer and can’t figure out how to do it?

  5. John Smith September 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Hello Wayne,

    First off, I have been a big fan of all your videos and I would definitely be a full member if not for being in medical school and not having any money. I have been really working on my grip recently and I have noticed a significant difference in terms of the release of the club to the left after impact and the ability to keep my hips in the box throughout my swing. I have felt it is much easier to use an overlapping grip for this process rather than an interlocking grip which has led me to wonder if that is unique to me or it could be applied more broadly as in the case of Tiger. I know that he previously kept his hips in the box with the Haney and Butch swings but he did so by putting extra pressure on his left knee (i.e., snapping the left leg). I think that his swing with Foley is a much better swing from a physics standpoint but I feel that his inability to keep his hips in the box is preventing him from seeing the results he desires under the extreme pressure of the majors. I have always considered Hogan’s swing to be the best and most technically correct swing. In the Five Lessons, he supports an overlapping grip. I am not sure of the exact history of when the interlocking grip first came about and if it was something Hogan experimented with. I do know it became much more popular with Jack Nicklaus and is the reason for Tiger using it. Do you think that there is any merit to the interlocking grip making it more difficult for Tiger to get into the finish position or exit path he desires especially with the driver? Thanks!

  6. Cary May 16, 2018 at 10:37 pm #

    Haney always said one of Tiger’s reoccurring flaws in his driver swing is his head was always moving away from ball from P6 to P7 causing him to get stuck.

  7. Cary May 16, 2018 at 10:43 pm #

    Haney always said one of Tiger’s reoccurring flaws in his driver swing is his head was always moving away from ball from P6 to P7 causing him to get stuck. In the 2000 swing is head does not move away from much but in his Foley swing it is moving far to his right from P5.5 to P7.

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