Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The King of Pop -- Out

It didn't take very long, but Tiger just won his first tournament in his comeback by pulling out a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. So far from watching Tiger I've seen the swing look pretty much the same. Some think this is a good thing because according to doctors, his knee will not be injured again. Some say his knee is 'indestructible', but torn ACL get torn again all of the time. I'm *guessing* that his knee will not get injured from the golf swing again, but I'm not so sure that's the truth. How many times have we seen a football player or a basketball player re-tear their ACL after making a hard cut?

Anyway, Tiger's ballstriking hasn't exactly been superb. He's shown some flashes, but still struggles with accuracy and consistency. He's 25th in driving distance, but 110th in driving accuracy and 154th in G.I.R. Of course, what people tend to forget when it comes to talking about whether or not his swing is 'fine', is that he's got an amazing short game. He's currently 1st in putts per round and ranked first in putting at Bay Hill.

Here's a look at Tiger's (and Sean O'Haire) swing at Bay Hill.

The main problem I see with Tiger's swing is that he's laid off at the top. It's a bit tough to tell in the video (Johnny Miller does mention that his clubshaft is pointing left at the top), but he is laid off.

The 'laid off' move usually causes an open face at impact and with most golfers an over the top move. Right now Tiger is basically hitting cut after cut.

So why doesn't Tiger change it?

My guess is swing and game philosophy because I'm pretty sure that Tiger knows what being 'laid off' is and probably acknowledges it's not the best position to be in.

First, I've read that Tiger hates hitting a draw. I'm sure he'll hit one if the shot calls for it, but from what I've read he doesn't want to hit a draw with his stock shot. He's probably a bit averse to getting the top of the swing corrected because he might start hitting draws.

Secondly, Tiger seems to be a fan of the one plane swing as he likes to use the turned shoulder plane for his one plane swing. The problem with doing this is that by using the turned shoulder plane that means the takeaway is a bit to the outside (or straight back) and when you do that, you make yourself prone to being 'laid off.' Believe me, I used to do the same thing and had the same problems.

Brian Manzella (http://www.brianmanzella.com/) calls this flaw 'pop out.' Here I will explain with these photos of 'The King' Arnold Palmer.

See how Arnie's hands are the same distance from his body at address and at the takeaway? That inside hand path helps it so Arnie does not get laid off at the top of the swing.

Tiger on the other hand takes the club almost straight back. This gets the hands a little further away from the body than they were at address.

So getting the hands a little further from the body at the takeaway (than the distance they were away from the body at address) is what Manzella means by 'pop out.' The hands 'pop out' of the position they were in at address.

Golfers, especially good ones, can be very stubborn with their philosophies. It sort of reminds me of John Madden talking about how he got the players he wanted while coaching the Oakland Raiders who are owned by Al Davis. Davis has his own stubborn ways in regards to how the game should be played and the type of schemes a team should use and often times he butts heads with coaches even if the coach's schemes and philosophies are working.

Madden basically said that he just knew that if he had a player he wanted or didn't want or wanted to run a new scheme he would just work on selling his ideas to Davis and usually Davis obliged.

I think that the same applies to Tiger with his swing. I don't think he wants to hit draws unless necessary and I think he wants to stay on the one plane. I think the coach that comes along can 'sell' Tiger on ways to get rid of the 'laid off' move at the top of the swing (which he probably could get rid of in less than a week) and why the one plane swing has some flaws and doesn't correlate to good ballstriking can in the end get Tiger to change.

This is not to knock Tiger. This type of thing happens all of the time with players. But, I believe it's scary just how much better Tiger could be and the level of play he could be playing at if he just makes a few tweaks to his swing because he's already winning despite some suspect ballstriking.


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