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19th Hole

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Possible Swing Changes for Tiger in his 40's

Posted this on IG yesterday, just something I thought would be interesting to throw out there. I could be completely off but when you look at players that have had long, relatively injury-free careers they tend to have more "freedom" with their lower body (Phil, Jack, Sam Snead, Vijay). By freedom I mean allowing the hips to turn, trail knee losing some flex and the lead knee moving inward. I've also felt Tiger's swing, especially in recent years, is too restrictive and hurts his downswing sequencing.

Someone commented that it wasn't a good comparison because the swing of Tiger's isn't a driver swing, it actually is but I'll also share this driver swing from last year in Phoenix.

IMG_9101.JPG

 

Here are some of the comments and my responses:

Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 9.26.36 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-10-06 at 9.26.59 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-10-06 at 9.27.23 AM.png


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28 Comments




Allow me to play devil's advocate (because I don't necessarily disagree…).

Is it the cause-and-effect, though?

Perhaps Phil's just naturally a bit more loosey goosey, and that leads to two things:

  • fewer injuries
  • a longer backswing

Maybe Tiger isn't naturally as loosey goosey (apologies for the technical jargon), and to try to swing that way, would have him doing worse… as it's just not his style?

Maybe.

No?

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I think you are on to something with the thought that he shouldn't restrict the lower body in his backswing. That is a young mans move. 

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This all makes sense from a healthy back standpoint, but this style of seems to be something of a throwback.  Who do you think Tiger could turn to that could help him make a transition of this kind of "old fashioned" swing?  And as @iacas asks, could Tiger be an effective player with such a radically different lower-body move?

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Maybe he will have no choice in the matter and his body will dictate he'll need a less restrictive turn. Curiously awaiting for someone to post his latest swing.

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59 minutes ago, iacas said:

Allow me to play devil's advocate (because I don't necessarily disagree…).

Is it the cause-and-effect, though?

Perhaps Phil's just naturally a bit more loosey goosey, and that leads to two things:

  • fewer injuries
  • a longer backswing

Maybe Tiger isn't naturally as loosey goosey (apologies for the technical jargon), and to try to swing that way, would have him doing worse… as it's just not his style?

Maybe.

No?

Yep I think those are valid points. As we know golf is an unnatural movement for the body and each person's makeup can react differently to swinging a club. Tiger's style does tend to be more "explosive" than most. Some people blame Tiger lifting weights for his back injuries which I don't really buy (not 100%). I obviously don't know how much Tiger's previous swings contributed to his back injury, if I had to guess I'd say it was more how his body responded to the wear and tear of playing/practicing at a high level for a sustained amount of time. Not saying he should go full Nicklaus but I think moving forward he has to be careful with how his lower body works. Seemed to have gotten the most "restrictive" (for whatever reason) under Foley.

57 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

This all makes sense from a healthy back standpoint, but this style of seems to be something of a throwback.  Who do you think Tiger could turn to that could help him make a transition of this kind of "old fashioned" swing?  And as @iacas asks, could Tiger be an effective player with such a radically different lower-body move?

Kind of like I just said, I don't think he has to go 100% old-school, just allow for some more freedom with the lower body. I think Como is as good as anyone to help him through making a swing that is easier on his body while still staying true to how he likes to swing it.

The question of effectiveness is a good one. If Tiger had more of a "Phil" backswing earlier in his career you may have never heard of him. Although Tiger has been successful with 4 different style swings.

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Are those pics both of Tiger at the 'Top' or after he's shifted some weight to the lead foot? If at the top, I'd agree that it looks pretty restrictive. Phil M doesn't look like he lifts his lead heel much, but it does look 'unweighted'.

IMO, there's no need to create any active 'stretch' through the lower back & torso between the thorax and hips on the backswing. If you shift weight to the lead side well in transition, then I think you're gonna get all the stretch you need on the downswing - unless you're picking the foot off the ground and turning the lead hip away from the target like a pitcher's windup or Sadaharu Oh.

As I see it any 'tension' felt in the lead side on the backswing is more like 'taking up slack' as you turn off the ball and the lead hip gets pulled around passively, usually lifting the lead heel / banking the lead foot a bit in the process. Letting the lead heel come up also seems to allow the lead hip to hang 'naturally' under the thorax while turning away from the ball more than if it stays relatively in place.

A possible swing advantage of a more mobile hip (besides easier on the back) on the backswing is that by getting further behind the lead side 'post' it has a little more distance to actively rotate / pull the upper body through impact before it runs out of usable range of motion around the extending lead leg.

Quite possible that a change like that affects Tiger's sequencing and accuracy. But if it gives him some extra 'effortless power' then he might recapture some accuracy because he'd be going at the ball easier (vs "100") on longer clubs for no net loss of accuracy or a slight reduction. In 2000 he looked less 'restricted' in the hips, but not like Nicklaus or Bubba. Lead heel look planted still. So a change like that's likely to feel weird for a while.

Tiger 2000.JPG

Obviously he can't expect to play long with an approach that messed up his back 2-3x (though it was likely repetitive use injury over a long time). Similar restrictive styles of Willet, Wie, Day, Rose do make the small hip turn style seem tougher on the back.

In his later years, Jack did a lot of 'cross-training' with tennis - a rotational game more balanced on both sides of the body than golf. Tiger might want to restrict his heroic range sessions in favor of something similar to help stay limber.

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1 hour ago, natureboy said:

Are those pics both of Tiger at the 'Top' or after he's shifted some weight to the lead foot? If at the top, I'd agree that it looks pretty restrictive. Phil M doesn't look like he lifts his lead heel much, but it does look 'unweighted'.

Not sure about the pic where he is in the blue stripped shirt, in the grey outfit it's right about where the clubhead stops loading "back".

Here's the swing from a few frames earlier.

Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 6.06.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-10-05 at 10.34.14 PM.png

1 hour ago, natureboy said:

In 2000 he looked less 'restricted' in the hips, but not like Nicklaus or Bubba.

Yep agree. 

Wanted to throw Phil and Jack out there as "clear" examples of unrestrictive lower body pivots.

1 hour ago, natureboy said:

Similar restrictive styles of Willet, Wie, Day, Rose do make the small hip turn style seem tougher on the back.

A little OT but I hate what Wie has done to her swing. I know the pic on the left is more of a "this is what I feel" type of thing but it's horrible.

MichelleWie3.jpg

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Fred Couples had back problems and I don't believe he had a lot of lower body restriction, right @mvmac?

I don't disagree with the idea that restricting the lower body can lead to back problems, but I wonder how much of it is the swing and how much is just genetics? Some people are just more injury-prone than others.

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1 hour ago, billchao said:

Fred Couples had back problems and I don't believe he had a lot of lower body restriction, right @mvmac?

I don't disagree with the idea that restricting the lower body can lead to back problems, but I wonder how much of it is the swing and how much is just genetics? Some people are just more injury-prone than others.

Here's a few shots of Freddie at 'top' (for me just prior to 'bump' weight transfer to lead side):

Couples Driver 3.JPGCouples Driver 2.JPGCouples Driver.JPG

With Freddie, I see a 'planted' (not 'unweighted') lead heel.

Yeah, I know my examples are anecdotal and anyone can tweak a back because the golf swing is so unnatural. But I'm starting to agree with those who say that keeping the lead heel planted may be an 'unnatural' restriction on the torso muscles.

I know much of the 'restriction' idea started with Hogan's reference to 'tension' in his backswing in 5 Lessons. Poor word choice IMO, but if you fully read the whole section, he didn't actively restrict anything on his backswing, just noted that when he felt a little tightness forming he knew he had turned enough and was 'ready to go'. That feel IMO was an aid to his timing and consistency - not power.

IMO, that tightness he described was just the slight stretch you get when you pull the lead shoulder away from the lead foot...and allow the lead hip to get pulled along by it. It's 'taking up the slack' rather than 'stretching a rubber band'. The lead hip and leg is 'hanging' off the thorax at the top before the bump to the lead side. That's what you feel, the dead weight of the left leg. Bumping / planting on the lead side and coming down is where you get the useful, active stretch between the lead hip and trail shoulder. IMO this is consistent with what he wrote in '5 Lessons.' If he wanted to maximize the stretch / tension he mentioned, he would have actively kept the lead heel down so he could pull as much as possible against the lead hip, like Wie is doing in that 'coil' pic.

Hogan said he 'didn't think about' his lead heel. If it came up it came up. To me that means he just let everything move naturally with his pivot. On his '48 swings and beyond a lead foot bank with slight heel lift is obvious with longer clubs. His stance varied where he was wider and more closed with longer clubs allowing for a bigger turn away from the target. With shorter clubs he had a narrower more open stance with a pulled back lead foot. Because he didn't actively pressure his lead side on the backswing, the hip pulled the knee and the knee pulled the ankle in and the heel lifted a bit. Because of the varying stance he felt the 'taking up slack' at different points in his turn away from the ball...earlier with shorter clubs for a shorter swing and later with longer clubs for a longer swing.

I think it's important to note that Hogan had an earlier swing style that was very long and used a very pronounced lead heel lift. He had a great winning season with that swing too. But it stuck in his craw when he hit any loose shots in competition and with the new pattern he traded some potential distance for a tighter pattern, unlikely to produce a costly miss that would gnaw at him during the off-season. I don't think either pattern is the 'perfect' approach, even though that's what he thought. Both 'Power Golf' and '5 Lessons' swings were great IMO.

Edited by natureboy
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4 hours ago, billchao said:

Fred Couples had back problems and I don't believe he had a lot of lower body restriction, right @mvmac?

I don't disagree with the idea that restricting the lower body can lead to back problems, but I wonder how much of it is the swing and how much is just genetics? Some people are just more injury-prone than others.

Yeah I'm sure genetics play some part in it.

With Couples, I've always wondered if aiming so far left at address caused more "tension" during his pivot. 

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If Tiger is still feeling his injury (even only slightly) then I'm not sure he is going to be able to do anything to his swing to get round it / make up for it.  I think his only chance is if he doesn't feel it at all anymore and then just hits it like he wants to.  

I also suspect there are plenty of golfers who had a loosey goosey swing (to use the technical term) who ended up with injuries that meant they couldn't play anymore.  Just because Jack and Phil are ok it doesn't necessarily all come down to their swings.

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7 hours ago, natureboy said:

Here's a few shots of Freddie at 'top' (for me just prior to 'bump' weight transfer to lead side):

Couples Driver 3.JPGCouples Driver 2.JPGCouples Driver.JPG

With Freddie, I see a 'planted' (not 'unweighted') lead heel.

Yeah, I know my examples are anecdotal and anyone can tweak a back because the golf swing is so unnatural. But I'm starting to agree with those who say that keeping the lead heel planted may be an 'unnatural' restriction on the torso muscles.

The lead heel being planted doesn't necessarily mean the his are restricted. Freddie's lead knee has turned inwards (away from the target) and his trail leg straightens in the DTL view. You can even see how far his belt buckle has turned.

We are using Phil as an example of a loose lower body and he doesn't lift the lead heel eithe (though he has in the past). Vijay is the same: no restriction on the lower body with a planted lead heel.

The key difference in the lower body action in Tiger's swing is how much more externally rotated (or how much less internally rotated) his lead hip is compared to the others IMO. That's where you see the difference between restricted and loose lower body action.

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5 hours ago, billchao said:

The lead heel being planted doesn't necessarily mean the his are restricted. Freddie's lead knee has turned inwards (away from the target) and his trail leg straightens in the DTL view. You can even see how far his belt buckle has turned.

Right I'm not saying that Tiger should start lifting his left heel, just allow the left knee to work in more and lose some flex in the trail leg. In his prime Tiger would stay "tall" on the backswing and then lower, the last few years he has gone down on the backswing and then gets all bunched up on the downswing.

8 hours ago, ZappyAd said:

I also suspect there are plenty of golfers who had a loosey goosey swing (to use the technical term) who ended up with injuries that meant they couldn't play anymore.  Just because Jack and Phil are ok it doesn't necessarily all come down to their swings.

I do find it interesting that we had generations of golfers that allowed their lower body's to turn (even lift the lead heel) and then sometime during the 80's/90's we stopped it. Maybe it's just my perception/bias but guys like Snead, Nelson, Palmer, Player, Casper, Boros, Lema, Picard, Sarazen, Thomson didn't seem to struggle with back pain and they weren't as fit as today's players.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is trying to restrict the lower body (Michelle Wie) is not going to be a good plan long term compared to allowing some "freedom" with the lower body.

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6 minutes ago, mvmac said:

I do find it interesting that we had generations of golfers that allowed their lower body's to turn (even lift the lead heel) and then sometime during the 80's/90's we stopped it. 

This is what I was thinking of when I mentioned an "old fashioned" swing in my earlier post.  It seems that styles of golf swings have come in and out of fashion, certainly individual swing instructors have come in and out of favor.  

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7 hours ago, billchao said:

The lead heel being planted doesn't necessarily mean the his are restricted. Freddie's lead knee has turned inwards (away from the target) and his trail leg straightens in the DTL view. You can even see how far his belt buckle has turned.

We are using Phil as an example of a loose lower body and he doesn't lift the lead heel eithe (though he has in the past). Vijay is the same: no restriction on the lower body with a planted lead heel.

The key difference in the lower body action in Tiger's swing is how much more externally rotated (or how much less internally rotated) his lead hip is compared to the others IMO. That's where you see the difference between restricted and loose lower body action.

Yeah, I get you. But Vijay and Phil allow the lead knee to kick in a lot more and their lead foot banks more than Freddie or Tiger. If there were more 'behind' driver views we might even see their lead heel come up just a touch. Perhaps what we're seeing with less lead knee kick is a slightly less unweighted lead leg for Freddie and Tiger. I think that would affect the range of motion for the hip turn - or at least the amount of effort it puts on smaller muscles to effect. Yes Freddie's hips have turned, but to my eye Phil and Jack's have turned more and possibly with less small muscle / low back effort.

What I think the looser lead leg allows is for the lead hip to hang under the torso more neutrally with a bit less anterior pelvic tilt at the top than I see with Freddie and Tiger. Look how much more 'under' his spine Phil's lead hip looks in this pic (though potentially distorted by the love handles). Added Hogan's pre '48 swing for contrast (if his stance wasn't super wide his knee would look even more kicked in).

Phil Driver.JPGVijay Driver.JPGHogan PG Driver.JPG

Edited by natureboy
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Quick point about the lead heel coming off the ground. I think it's all good as long as it's a function/result of the pivot "pulling" it off the ground and not something done independently. You can lift the heel and still restrict the turn ;-)

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2 hours ago, mvmac said:

I do find it interesting that we had generations of golfers that allowed their lower body's to turn (even lift the lead heel) and then sometime during the 80's/90's we stopped it. Maybe it's just my perception/bias but guys like Snead, Nelson, Palmer, Player, Casper, Boros, Lema, Picard, Sarazen, Thomson didn't seem to struggle with back pain and they weren't as fit as today's players.

It is interesting. To be fair though I expect a current player's schedule is more loaded with events, exhibitions, and practice. The older generation had a real off-season too IIRC.

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2 hours ago, mvmac said:

I do find it interesting that we had generations of golfers that allowed their lower body's to turn (even lift the lead heel) and then sometime during the 80's/90's we stopped it. Maybe it's just my perception/bias but guys like Snead, Nelson, Palmer, Player, Casper, Boros, Lema, Picard, Sarazen, Thomson didn't seem to struggle with back pain and they weren't as fit as today's players.

They didn't work out or play or practice nearly as hard either. They also still probably had injuries (I am not saying more or even the same number) but the media wasn't as pervasive.

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Agree with @mvmac in the OP 100%. 

I thought X factor been debunked. I never understood why some people think that the human body can be coiled and uncoiled like a 'single' continuous spring or a rubber band by restricting hip turn. As if harder you stretch, faster it will snap back to create speed/power. All it does is predispose upper body to turn more (disproportionately) than the lower body - screws up sequence and hence the back issues as OP suggested. Also, as far as it being a young man's move - well, the young man would hit even further and with more consistent DS sequencing if young man would let the hip go a bit.

Also I always thought lifting left heel a tad bit and letting hip also turn more allows a more centered turn. Without it the chest has to floats away more to the right and then shift back to get over the ball at DS.

Not saying Bubba type heel lifting will benefit everybody but better to err on the side of lifting more than keep it grounded the whole time.  

 

 

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I think professional athletes are reaching the extremes of our bodies potential which is demonstrated by the distance some are achieving and the toll it's taking on their bodies.  The lower lumbar wasn't designed for the torque and stress that professional golfers place it under with their swings.  Some believe the bulk of the damage to the lower lumbar occurs as a result of how golfers decelerate the club after impact.   

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I won't let the cat out of the bag with the national media, but I'm thinking Tiger read this blog entry, is making the changes you suggest, that's why he decided to enter the tournament on Friday (the day after the blog post). But after three days of practicing the new movement, he just hasn't had enough time to get comfortable with it.

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8 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

I won't let the cat out of the bag with the national media, but I'm thinking Tiger read this blog entry, is making the changes you suggest, that's why he decided to enter the tournament on Friday (the day after the blog post). But after three days of practicing the new movement, he just hasn't had enough time to get comfortable with it.

Doesn't look like it from his discussion of what he changed: http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/woods-hits-balls-clinic-after-safeway-wd

Still haven't seen him make any swing since the surgery with what looks like an aggressive turn.

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37 minutes ago, natureboy said:

Still haven't seen him make any swing since the surgery with what looks like an aggressive turn.

Okay?

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 7.08.11 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-10-11 at 7.07.38 PM.png

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