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Tiger’s New Swing: An Analysis-Dec. 2010

There are a couple of things I believe about Tiger Woods’ golf swing: one, he has improved it consistently since 1996.  Yes, that means that I believe that his swing with Hank Haney was better than his swing with Butch Harmon.  And I also think his new action is an improvement over his swing at the end of Haney’s tenure as his coach.  The other thing I believe is that Tiger plays “golf swing” and not “golf shot”, which would be counter to most of the common preaching of modern day sport psychologists.
Tiger is now working with Sean Foley and from what I have seen I like the changes that Tiger has implemented.  Tiger’s swing with Hank peaked in 2008 before the knee surgery, as evidenced by the swings he was making when he won the Match Play Championship, which I show to students all the time.  Although his backswing used parallel planes the way Haney taught, (which is different from how I see the plane functioning in the backswing), he moved the club beautifully back to the shaft plane on the approach and through impact.  It appeared, though, that as his left arm rolled up to flatten the shaft his shoulders flattened as well, and with the incredible separation between upper and lower and the speed of his lower body movement his arms would get away from him in the downswing, especially with the driver. In his rehearsals at the Chevron it is evident that Tiger is attempting to steepen his shoulder turn and move away from the parallel shaft theory.  If you note the way I draw my lines in my standard analysis I always draw to the base of the shaft plane.  Tiger is now rehearsing steeper than the shaft plane, as well as moving his hands well downward and inward to start the swing, which I much prefer to moving out away from the body (a la Harmon).
As for playing “swing” versus “shot”, just watching Tiger’s pre-shot routine tells me that in his mind a good swing hits a good shot, and he thus rehearses specific things he wants to do when he hits the shot.  This is not how Bubba Watson or Fred Couples plays golf.  Which is better?  For my money I’ll take Tiger’s approach, which allows lesser players to at least try to implement changes they have been working on.  Playing golf with a blank mind only works with great talent.  I never had that, and I believe most golfers cannot improve unless they purposefully attempt to swing a certain way.  Certainly it becomes critical to limit the thoughts and combine them into usable clusters, but nevertheless without thought things stay the same, and if you are not at the level you want to be at  staying the same is not an option.


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