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19th Hole

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What every golfer can learn from Tiger Woods

From a conversation I just had with a buddy. Couple things you can learn from the 14-time major champion.

1. It's possible to change the picture. 

He's done it several times now and a couple of them have been pretty significant. You can look at a video of his swing and spot whether it was his "Haney swing" or his "Harmon swing". Here's my take on how he does it, he expects and is determined to feel "uncomfortable". He's talked about this in interviews and I've seen in person how he goes about practicing. So many golfers ditch new swing thoughts because it doesn't "feel good "to them when they should be looking to feel uncomfortable! Of course changing a piece in your swing doesn't feel normal, you're changing a motor pattern. It'd be like changing something in the way you walk, it's going to feel like crap until it starts to become your new normal. 

Throughout the years we've all seen Tiger go through his slow rehearsals, on the range and on the course (especially after a bad shot). He "maps" out how he wants wants his body to move. Also, since he's hit thousands of balls with the old swing and to ingrain the new motion, he hits A LOT of balls forcing himself to do it the new way. I don't think every amateur has to hit thousands of balls but they'll probably have to make thousands of rehearsal/slow swings in order to see long term results. To make the change stick you're going to have to think about moving your body or a segment of your body in a specific way, you have to do it slowly and do it thousands of times. Seek out that uncomfortable feeling, because if it feels normal, you're not changing the picture.

2. Don't get caught up in a "style" of swing, focus on a priority. 

I think it's pretty common knowledge that Tiger loves to tinker with his swing. I think Como has him more focused on the important stuff now but certainly in the past he has gotten too concerned with how he wanted his swing to look rather than focusing on making it more efficient. Butch was actually against making all the changes to get to his "2000 swing" but Tiger was able to talk him into it. He wanted a swing where every position was perfect. With Haney it was the same line of thinking, except the definition of what was perfect changed. He bought into Haney's single plane theory and started rolling his forearms to a great degree on the backswing and had the club laid off at A4. With Foley it was about trying to look more like Grant Waite. And when it comes down to it, the changes were more "style" oriented: arms plane, forearm rotation rates, elbow location, his pivot/body stuff hasn't changed a great deal. 

Tiger is great at changing the picture but he's been changing it for the wrong reasons. It's based on the premise that if his swing looks "perfect" he won't hit bad shots. I think it's a good thing to always be working to improve but you can do that without rebuilding your golf swing over and over again. Rebuilding swings or starting from scratch is a complete waste of time and your natural tendencies tend to stay with you no matter what swing you adopt. Tiger has and will always have the head dip, it's just part of golf swing DNA.


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Good stuff Mike!

So many golfers ditch new swing thoughts because it doesn't "feel good "to them when they should be looking to feel uncomfortable! Of course changing a piece in your swing doesn't feel normal, you're changing a motor pattern. It'd be like changing something in the way you walk, it's going to feel like crap until it starts to become your new normal. 

Whenever I'm at the range and thinking about giving up on a different feel, or by the same token, when I hear people haven't improved and I find out they gave up on [whatever priority piece you or Erik gave them] my TV/Movie brain always goes to the scene in the bar in 40 Year Old Virgin when Steve Carell's characters buddy is trying to get him to loosen up and go talk to girls and he says "It just doesn't feel right" so his buddy responds, "Of course it doesn't feel right!  What has felt right for you DON'T WORK!  Ya need to try some wrong, dog."

It's a joke, but it's 100% accurate and applies here as well. :beer:

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Great blog post.

I'll also add something I heard years ago, that "perfect is the enemy of good". That doesn't mean that you shouldn't work to improve, but that in all human endeavors, perfection is unattainable, and that in trying to be perfect, we can destroy what's good.

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I used to be the guy on the range with the perfect swing and I just couldn't post the scores. I've been told several times I was the best range player in town. 

I dropped golf for a few years, I don't have the same amount of time to practice on my hand so now I only focus on results, made a couple of swing change to make my swing more reliable, some of them makes me look goofy. (Baseball grip and very narrow feet at address) 

Guess what?! my ball striking on the course is better than ever. 

The path to great golf is getting to know your swing and your limits. 

Edited by ygmondoux
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The path to great golf is getting to know your swing and your limits. 

Right, Hogan, Tiger, Jason Day, whoever, all have great swings but golfers set themselves up for failure by trying to "copy" swings. Learn from the commonalities of the great players, work with what you have and focus on eliminating or reducing the stuff that causes your ball striking problem.

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What I learned from TW is NOT to bulk-up on weights. I am convinced the result was a more limited flexibility and a changed muscle memory on a man that was fine tuned. For tennis players and golfers I believe weights are fine, if the target is strength and flexibility as opposed to "bulking up" like an NFL linebacker.

Positive side, TW's putting drills are excellent. 

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What I learned from TW is NOT to bulk-up on weights. I am convinced the result was a more limited flexibility and a changed muscle memory on a man that was fine tuned. For tennis players and golfers I believe weights are fine, if the target is strength and flexibility as opposed to "bulking up" like an NFL linebacker.

Kinda getting OT here but Tiger never did "bulk up" from lifting weights, he's never looked like an NFL linebacker. Most men are "bulkier" at 40 than they are at 20, it's just natural, even if you do stay in good shape. Tiger is just an average sized, fit looking guy. I've stood a few feet away from him several times in the past 2 1/2 years, definitely not a "big" guy.

Tiger won all of his tournaments while being active in the gym and lifting weights so I don't understand how that's something you learned not to do. If anything lifting properly improves flexibility There are a ton of golfers that lift weights, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy being amount them.

nike-training-inner-strength-rory-mcilroScreen_Shot_2015-10-08_at_1.02.52_PM.thuScreen_Shot_2015-10-08_at_1.03.07_PM.thu

Edited by mvmac
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Great post @mvmac. I am not a professional so I can't honestly say that my philosophy would be same if I were, but here's what I 'learnt' - have large amounts of faith and patience and focus on your swing improvements and goals. If you are a student, you will never run out of either. There are some unquestionable basics of golf in general - for eg. a slightly forward leaning shaft at impact is not 'customizable' basic tenant. But other than that it is ok for me to make finding my personal swing a long term pursuit. I think philosophically golf demands a progressive path at all times - of course for us non-professionals it is surely easier if you do not have the pressure of putting food on the table- shooting an odd 92 hurts nothing but my ego. Surely there are plenty of minds who think that is a slippery slope, which I agree and I personally was resistant to doing anything with mine. I was afraid to loose whatever little I had. But that changed once I understood laws of ball flight and found good guidance to help crystallize what path and priorities I should follow - INVALUABLE! I am still a very hard headed student and very slow in actually implementing picture changes but the path is still forward. Anyway, Tiger's path has been educational and a confirmation in that sense. For me, he is a philosophical model (maybe, I would think differently if I had a few majors in my trophy collection, but well.. uh.. let's just say, I don't). 

  

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