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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If This Is The Problem, Tiger May Never Find It

I wasn't sure what to do for today's post. I seem to have gotten into the habit of doing instructional stuff for two or three days before a tournament, like I did with Bubba's swing yesterday... but today I was stuck. (Ironic, since that's Tiger's problem too.) Anyway, while poking around YouTube, I started looking at some slo-mo footage of Tiger's swing over the years.

There's a lot of guys doing swing analysis now, showing old swing versus new swing, and everybody has a different slant. I found one that showed how Tiger's swing was actually more technically correct now than it was ten years ago, and another that says it's worse. But you know me... I rarely see quite what everybody else sees.

And after looking at a bunch of footage, I noticed something. Maybe it's just one of those little quirks that exists in most everybody's swing, but I found one thing that's different in his new swing that I didn't see in any of the older footage I checked. I thought you all might be interested, because I'm betting nobody will ever suggest this is Tiger's problem.

Believe it or not, I think Tiger's made a technically correct change that could be messing up his swing. Take a look and see what you think.

I've rounded up three clips of Tiger's swing, all of them with the driver, from three different years -- the 2007 U.S. Open (T2 at +6), the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational (a win at -10, if the posted date is correct), and the 2010 U.S. Open (T4 at +3). See if you can find the difference between the first two and the last one.

Here's 2007:

Here's 2008:

And here's 2010:

Can you find a difference? It's tricky because he's bobbing and weaving all over the place. It even looks like his upper and lower body are in synch in all three, although (as you no doubt remember) I originally thought that might be his problem. There isn't much consistency from one clip to the next... but there's one thing that's different in 2010. I'll give you a hint: If you stop the clips at these times:
  • 2007 -- :09 sec
  • 2008 -- :13 sec
  • 2010 -- :11 sec
you'll have a better chance of spotting it. Go ahead, give it a shot.

How did you do? If you still can't see it, take a look at his right heel. In the first two clips (where we all thought he was invincible) that heel gets off the ground really early in the swing. Technically, this is a flaw he ought to correct, right?

But in the last clip, it looks like he has. And yet this is right in the middle of his struggles! Maybe it's throwing off his timing by slowing down his hip turn; I don't know. What I do know is that it looks like his hips haven't turned as much in that last video, even though his arms and club are at about the same position in all three.

I don't know if this is the source of his struggles, but as weekend players you should be aware of this: Everybody has quirks in their swing, things that aren't considered textbook moves but are very natural for you. You repeat them consistently because they're just the way you move. If you try to change one of those things, you could end up messing up your swing.

I actually had a big problem in my swing for a while because I got into a proper position at the top, but moved my right elbow toward the ball on the downswing (a natural move I've had since I was a child) and it caused me to spray the ball all over the place on full swings. I finally had to make a change to my swing so that I used my right arm differently, simply because I couldn't change that elbow move with any consistency.

Most of the great players have had something funky in their swings. Wouldn't it be funny (in an odd sort of way) if Tiger's problems finally got traced to a misbehaving ankle that rebelled against his control? It would mean that golf's biggest control freak would have to learn how to live with a flaw he couldn't change.

I guess that would make him human too.


  1. Wow. I would have never have caught that if you had not pointed it out. That really could be the reason. Whatever it is, he needs to figure it out soon. Despite his play, it appears as though he will still make the Ryder Cup team. And rightly so, I believe. But he still needs to perform. This is a team competition and as we know, a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. Tiger does not want to be that weak link, so I am sure he is doing everything he can to be ready.

  2. Did you hear Foley's comments that he would try to take Tiger back to a swing that actually work and try to rebuild to that point ? Sounds like he thinks the way a lot of us do - why is he "fixing" something that isn't broken ?

    He knows about all these problems - but he's had Hank Haney for 6 years tinkering around, or just nodding his head when Tiger said he wanted to try something...which is what he fought during the entire show with Ray Romano. Romano didn't let the pro do his job.

  3. Dex -- I agree. Tiger will get his game together enough to play at the Ryder Cup... it's never a good idea to bet too heavily against the Big Cat. ;-)

    And in a lot of ways, I think this is actually good for Tiger. If he learns to work more with other people out of this, rather than just to lean on his own strengths, he'll come out of this a much better player.

    Court -- Ain't that always the way? Like the old bumper sticker says, "If it ain't broke, fix it until it is." Like I said in the other post, Tiger knows how to swing; he just needs to remember what it felt like... and then just let it go.

    I believe he'll eventually figure it out, despite all the teachers trying to help him. ;-)

  4. LMAO ! I'm going to order a thousand of those bumper stickers, sneak into the Capitol parking lot, and put one on every car there. Talk about our government's motto ! :-D

    I don't know what there is to fix. I saw The Haney Project where ol' Hank explained the magic grip he showed Tiger that made him hit every shot perfectly. (lol)

  5. About that grip... here's the deal: Haney struggled for a long time with what he calls "driver yips." I know that sounds silly, but it was a cover story in Golf Digest several years ago -- July 2004, to be exact. The Golf Blog actually did a post about the article here:

    right about the time Tiger and Hank were starting to work together, questioning whether this was a good idea. (BTW, the link to Golf Digest in this post doesn't work, and a quick search of the Golf Digest site didn't find the article. Interesting, huh?)

    I read the article when it came out, and I suspect it may actually be part of the reason Tiger went to Hank in the first place. Who better to fix Tiger's driving problems than a guy who's come back from the depths of driver despair? Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's where "the grip" came from.

  6. What am I missing ? Choosing Haney because of some goofy grip that may or may not have been the "salvation" of Haney's driver problems ? Hank Haney, who has never been a serious professional player, but pretty much a lifetime coach, knows the swing, but the idea that a magic grip secret would somehow influence Tiger to stick with him for 6 years ? That just doesn't sound right.

  7. Bear in mind that Haney is also a longtime Hogan disciple. Hogan devoted himself to developing a swing that eliminated the left side of the course and that duck hook he referred to as "the terror of the field mice." Put those two things -- a Hogan disciple who's dealt with "driver yips" -- together with Tiger's constant struggle to avoid a hook -- a problem that he says he's had since he was a junior golfer -- and choosing Haney makes perfect sense.

  8. But Tiger wasn't missing left very often until after Haney got ahold of him. Butch had him hitting tight fades with his irons, but his driver miss was way right most of the time.

    Tiger studied Hogan and I'm starting to think he knows Hogan's swing better than Haney. Hogan never slapped his right palm on the club.

    The more I learn about Haney, the more amazing Tiger seems - winning in spite of what his coach had him doing. :-)

  9. Tiger could win with the Hunchback of Notre Dame coaching him. (Bet he uses that old "ring the bell" image a lot in his teaching...)

  10. I think he's been down that road before - Tiger didn't go for the whole bent over posture thing. :-)