I was recently asked by one of the leading golf magazines what I would do with Tiger Woods swing if I coached him.
Like any golf student that comes to me the first thing I would look at is where the strengths and weaknesses are in his game by looking at his statistics comparing them when he's scoring well and when he's not.
The reason is that it’s not how good looking his swing is but how low he is scoring currently.
"Low scores are the bottom line, that's what wins golf tournaments."
So let’s start by comparing Tiger's key stats in the 2011 season against his stats when arguably he was playing and scoring his best in the 2000 season.
2011 SEASON 2000 SEASON
Driving Accuracy 45.54 percent Rank 191st Driving Accuracy 71.22 percent Rank 54th
G.I.R 69.44 percent Rank 30th G.I.R. 75.15 percent Rank 1st
Scrambling 57.50 percent Rank 110th Scrambling 69.67 percent Rank 3rd
It is quite evident that Tiger has to improve his driving and scrambling stats to get back to being the dominant player he was. His G.I.R which is mainly iron approaches has deteriorated but is still competitive.
This indicates to me that the swing he currently has is more suited to iron shots where a more descending approach is required compared to the driver where striking the ball at the base of your swing or even a slight ascending strike is required to get the best results.
"Tigers angle of approach of the club head with his driver is way too steep and makes it impossible to match up a square club face at impact consistently. I’m sure you have seen him take divots with his 3 & 5 woods even when he tees it up."
It is my observation and belief that Tiger’s lower body motion is the main culprit of his steep angle of approach with his driver. It has been well documented and shown in slow motion Tiger’s drop in height as he initiates the downswing and this in itself is not the cause but coupled with his right heel lifting straight up which in turn raises his right hip and takes the space where his arms need to swing.
This results in the famous “Trapped” feeling Tiger has on numerous occasions described as why he blocks and hooks his drives.
From this “Trapped” position his solution is to snap his left leg straight as fast as possible to clear his left side and after the surgery on the left knee it is not as stable as it used to be causing the left foot to slide. The left foot sliding at impact is not good as achieving solid ground force with the lead foot is essential to being able to deliver the required compression to the ball. Squarer the impact the more compression is applied to the ball.
So what adjustment is required for Tiger? I would get him to roll his right ankle inwards keeping his right heel on the ground longer ( he does this with his irons beautifully) as he starts his downswing and “post up” with his left leg.
This will allow him to initiate his downswing swing from the ground up and still create the stability and space for his upper body and arms to deliver the club head on a more shallow angle of approach to the ball and not have to try and fix the clubface at the last moment.
At the present time Tiger is working on matching up the release point for all his shots, driver to putter but I believe if he fixes his lower body motion the release is automatically improved.
The release should be an effect. I am not sure what his driver specifications are but he was the leader in all round driving (combines length and accuracy) when he was using a 43” steel shafted driver back in 2000.
On the scrambling stats Tiger has been the loser of the new groove rule. He could control the old grooves and high spin better than anybody else on tour but now he hasn’t got the “square” grooves to get him out of trouble like he used to.
It was like Greg Norman ability to drive it longer and straighter than anybody else with the Persimmon driver and high spin balata balls and this advantage was cancelled when metal drivers and low spin balls became available in the 90’s.
In conclusion I would get Tiger to improve his driver swing by fixing and improving his lower body action which will allow him to deliver the club head on a shallower angle of approach and strike the ball more on the up-stroke. The path therefore for his driver will be more from slightly inside to square and his irons as he delivers the club on a more descending approach to the ball will be more down the line and to the left of target.
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