MGS for Tiger and all Pros

Tiger Woods, Hank Haney, ‘The Big Miss’ and – naturally – MGSS

The book ‘The Big Miss – My Years Coaching Tiger Woods’ is a must-read for anyone wishing to get an insight into ‘the best’ working with ‘the best’. The swing problems the top coaches see, the solutions they suggest, and how the players treat their coaches.

Visited Hank Haney in 1990 to watch him teach (sent him a letter – no email in those days – to say I’d be India’s first female pro and might I visit to observe him teach and learn from him). He was wonderful, very helpful and sharing, so reading this book was of particular interest. He appeared such a ‘thorough gentleman’ and now hearing people say it is incorrect for a coach to reveal private details of a player, one must wonder at the vindication someone of his stature would feel he needed for all the terrible treatment. Leading players can be complete prima-donnas, not realizing what the coach is bringing to the table – if only Hank had not been so in awe of his student.

Basically, it appears that the leading teachers in the world either give their students an ‘opposite’ solution or a series of compensation-movements to cure whatever fault they currently have.

At a PGA of America Teachers’ Summit many years ago, heard Jim Hardy say that often in golf two negatives will make a positive. Only understood that now, after reading his disciple Hank Haney’s book. Life and golf are simply too complex to use two negatives to make one positive! (Besides, folks, that formula only works with multiplication, never with addition!)

Also, most top teachers obsess about ‘swing fundamentals’ (grip, body alignment and posture among other factors) which relate to body-parts, but then make the actual swing all about club parts – clubshaft plane and clubface position! How absolutely absurd. As if the club swings itself! What about the many contortions a golfer must make with the main body joints to get the club into any desired club position?


Tiger’s swing under 4 different coaches

This set of screens-shots from a Golf Digest magazine presentation on youtube shows Tiger Woods’ pre-impact position while working with his 4 most recent swing coaches. Impact, after all, is the moment of truth.

In the first two swings he had a long, free-flowing swing with his lower body sliding out of the way – ‘gone’ well before impact, which required perfect timing for the hands to play catch-up, but which he must have perfected with practice.

In the latter two swings he has cut off a great deal of un-necessary lateral movement, but now gets into a deep squat, while starting the downswing, before straightening up, pre-impact.

With his most recent swing, he is arriving at the ball very far from the inside, with the wrists at such a steep angle that they rely on perfect timing to snap straight at impact. At the same time, his squat has become an almost violent downward drop of the entire body, and he has to make a great deal of compensation to arrive at a good impact position.

Tiger Woods’ driver swing, Dubai 2011

Address: Upper body ‘open’ to target; but right side below left (as with any golf swing)

Left arm at 9 o’clock: shoulders now ‘closed’ to target (why start with them open, in that case?); head and left side of body tilted targetward (reverse weight shift); right arm fairly straight with right shoulder rising, creating tension in body

Top of backswing: Right knee fully straightened; right hip too twisted back; head and left side of body leaning targetward (reverse weight shift), wrists bent in 2 planes

Start of downswing: a Lashing, violent start, dipping the body way below the Dubai skyline!

Pre-impact: so much talent – a phenomenal re-route to arrive at the ball from the inside. A move which requires perfect timing at all times, to pull off. If right side of trunk is below left at address and again at impact, why let it rise up during backswing – requiring so much manipulation to undo?

Tiger’s putting stroke Biomechanics US Masters’ 2011

The biomechanics of Tiger’s putting stroke during the US masters 2011.

His upper body is bent so far forward that his arms sag under his shoulders (closer to the body). This indeed cuts off all possibility of arm/wrist movement and only allows shoulder movement.

However, the proponents of shoulder-only movement never specify that it should NOT be in the transverse (horizontal) plane. How can a twist-and-turn of the shoulders deliver the club straight-back-and-past the ball for LINEAR (straight-line) movement? Perhaps the goal of a putt is for it NOT to go straight?

Using the shoulders (bigger muscles) for such a small putt is like using a hammer to kill an ant.

A simple movement would be: raise the arms and shaft away from the body until the arms hang directly below the shoulders. Then move the arms back and forth, in as straight a line as possible without elevating either shoulder. the result – LINEAR motion, how can a putt fail to drop!

Tiger’s US Masters’ 2011 swing

Forget about swing mechanics. This swing is very dangerous in terms of its injury potential. Tight muscles and too much movement – both can cause damage. Both arms are stiff during the backswing. There is a lot of tension in the neck muscles at impact, with the head buried in the chest. MOST IMPORTANTLY the left ankle and knee torque a lot and then lock up during impact. Also, the right side of the body – as with any golfer – is lower than the left at address as well as at impact. Tiger moves his upper body through a huge range, only to return to it’s correct below-the-left-side position! The more movement there is in a a golf swing, the less reliable it becomes and the more prone to injury.

Tiger Woods at the US Masters’ 2011

Let’s start with tiger’s putting stroke at the 2011 US Masters.

Look at his shoulders at address and then in the follow-through.

With so much rotation of his shoulders past impact, how can his putter move straight down the target line to allow linear (straight-line) motion of his ball? His left arms has collapsed through impact, also adding to inconsistency of ball movement.

Finally, his putting stroke all week was a bit of a ‘bang’ or ‘jab’, not as smooth as it could’ve been.

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