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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let Me Pick Tiger's Next Teacher

Tomorrow I'll get back to the instructional posts, but today I thought I'd chip in with my two cents about "the split." I'd like to think I can offer a different perspective, although I certainly don't claim to know what's going on in the Tiger camp.

First, if you didn't see TGC Monday night, they talked with a spinal specialist who said (given the small amount of info we have) that Tiger could very well have a herniated disk and that it might indeed have been just a nagging pain that became worse with use until it suddenly became unbearable this past weekend. The doctor said Tiger might have thought it was something he could play through until that happened.

From what I heard of Tiger's presser on Monday, two thing jumped out at me. One was the word "spasms." We all know that golfers tend to play through pain. I can see how Tiger might have thought this was just some nagging pain that came from several months of layoff, and that it would pass in a few weeks. However, he clearly said that Sunday he could no longer make a swing without spasms. A pain with full motion is definitely different from shooting pains that restrict movement, so I'm willing to give Tiger the benefit of the doubt here. He never tells us when he's in pain (for better or for worse), so I'm not surprised he didn't tell us about what might just be rust.

The other thing that stood out was his remark about having friends who had dealt with this, and that it could be serious. If you didn't immediately think about his friendship with Annika and the several months she spent in a neck brace after similar problems, this probably didn't mean anything to you. But after several months of rehab from knee surgery, I imagine the possibility of several more weeks in a neck brace would put some fear in you too. We keep talking about this whole idea of seeking some escape on the golf course; that would pretty much put an end to it, and I suspect it's a scarier prospect for Tiger than it would be for us.

After all, there's nowhere else left for him to go, is there?

As for Haney quitting, I tend to believe Haney when he says he called Tiger and quit, rather than Tiger firing him. Have there been stresses between them? I don't know. Could it have been a mutual decision? I'd be surprised if it wasn't; I don't think Hank would just walk out, nor do I think Tiger would just fire him. (Look, if Tiger hasn't cleaned house after that nightmare he's been through, he certainly wouldn't get rid of the one guy who helped him be successful on the one stage he's looking to for refuge.)

That said, I think (unlike so many others) that this is actually good timing for a split.
  • Tiger says he can't make the moves. And it's unlikely he's going to be able to make them anytime soon, especially if he does have a herniated disk. If he intends to keep playing, he's going to have to rebuild his swing yet again.
  • The Hogan swing is unforgiving. You can't half do it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Hogan swing's strength is that it's designed so that, if you don't do it right, you "get stuck." Tiger continues to get stuck because even he has trouble doing it perfectly. With his neck problems, you can kiss any hope of perfection goodbye.
  • The constant Haney-bashing is a distraction for them both. If they split, the rumors stop. Haney will have to do a few interviews about the split, then they'll ask him to critique Tiger's new swing--just like they keep asking Butch to critique the Haney swing.
One last thought on the Hogan swing: Do you understand why Tiger didn't get the same results as Hogan? The Hogan swing was designed to eliminate snap hooks--what Hogan called "the terror of the fieldmice"--and you have to use his complete swing setup to make it work. That means you have to use a weak grip. The only person who ever used the Hogan swing with as much success as Hogan was Johnny Miller--and he used the weak grip also. You use it all or you don't gain the benefits. (Just for the record, Miller and Hogan also shared the yips with the putter. I think that's a side effect of the weak grip and the constant forearm twisting during the swing.)

So the big question becomes: Who will Tiger's next teacher be? I'm sure this will be a big subject of debate for the next few weeks, especially if Tiger gets sidelined for a while in rehab.

* * * * * * *

Tiger, if you're listening, I have one word for you...


Look, she's got a teaching academy not too far away. You're both already friends. She's dealt with the neck problems, and she was the dominant player on her tour, so she's the perfect person to understand what you're dealing with. And since you helped her with her short game, I figure she owes you. ;-)

But best of all, imagine what you could do with that machinelike swing of hers! Imagine never getting stuck again. Imagine piping the ball 315, right down the center of the fairway. Imagine what kind of scores you could post if you were playing all your approach shots from the short grass!

Just think about it, Tiger.


  1. Great points but why don't you sign up for the job? You're full of swing tips!

  2. I doubt if Tiger would listen to me, Apryl, because I focus on making things as simple as possible with as little practice as possible. It would probably sound too simple to him right now.

    I posted this on Waggle Room just to see what reaction I would get, and was pleased that some of the professionals who read it backed my accessment of Hogan's swing. It's always good to have recognized authorities agree with you!