The Golf Blog: Why Tiger Woods’ swing change is admission of mistake in leaving Butch Harmon

mulligan, 07 April 2011, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Why Tiger Woods’ swing change is admission of mistake in leaving Butch Harmon
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The Golf Blog says: Tiger Woods talked candidly about his most recent swing change during the press conference at the Masters this week. What Tiger said was pretty revealing:

“I didn’t think I would have to make a complete swing change, lose coaches (Hank Haney) and move on to another one (Sean Foley, his current coach). That’s taken a little while to build in new motor patterns. It takes a while for it to be laid down and it takes time. It’s taken a long time to develop the patterns and know what the fixes are. I’m finally starting to shape the ball both ways and being able to fix it if I don’t.

“It’s just a totally different philosophy from what I was employing before. We’ve changed a lot, from stance to grip to where the club is throughout the entire golf swing and, obviously, what the body is doing. It’s way different from what I used to do, and that’s been a difficult change. The grip part I got pretty quickly. The posture I got pretty quickly. The other stuff has been more difficult.”

In our view, Tiger’s comments are an admission that his decision to overhaul his swing from what Butch Harmon taught him was a mistake. Most rational golfers would not choose to overhaul their swing to a different swing that they would have to completely overhaul again in 6 years. That makes no sense. Just imagine: your local golf pro had you change your grip, posture, and entire swing, and you practiced and practiced it for 6 years hitting thousands of golf balls. And then 6 years later, the pro instructor said you needed to completely change everything again–that basically the past 6 years of instruction should be scrapped. Doh! That would drive us nuts.

Most golfers would want to have a coach teach them the right fundamentals–fundamentals that they can build on for their entire career. Complete overhauls of a swing signal at least lack of faith in the prior principles taught by the previous instructor.

True, Tiger’s knee surgery and injury may require a different swing now. But from what Sean Foley said about not understanding anything about Tiger’s prior swing under Hank Haney, it doesn’t sound like all or most of the swing change is due to Tiger’s knee. Instead, it’s a change in swing philosophy.

And we’re not necessarily saying Hank Haney’s swing philosophy was wrong; nor are we saying that Sean Foley’s philosophy is right. But what is wrong is overhauling a swing for 6 years (after having had the most success under the previous swing), only to have to completely “unlearn” that swing and overhaul it with another swing with a massively different swing philosophy (including grip, posture, plane, and entire swing). If given a choice, most sensible golfers would choose a swing they could build and improve on for life.

Life is short. So, too, is the chance for major victories. Overhauling a swing takes away precious chances at earning those victories. As Tiger himself said, “It took a long time with Butch and it took a long time with Hank and so far it’s taken a long time with Sean.”


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