Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Thoughts on Tiger's Driver Struggles

Here’s another video from Dr. Bhrett McCabe discussing ‘going for what you want.'

Since I attended Dr. McCabe’s MINDSide discussion, I have really thought about this…almost on a constant basis. And recently I have thought about not only it applying to my game, but how I think it applies to Tiger Woods and his struggles with the driver as well.

One of the things I have struggled with figuring out is the ‘go to shot.’ I have tried for years and years to develop that ‘go to shot’ that may not bring forth the best results, but the idea is that when the pressure is on I can safely hit that shot and stay out of trouble. And over the years I’ve been unable to find that ‘go to shot’ that I can hit consistently. Some days it works. But, more often than not it doesn’t work.

I also started to think about something I find to be a struggle…trying to do something I call ‘hedging my bets’ with a golf swing and it continually resulting in poor performance.

One of the holes I like to use as a situation where I would be likely to try and ‘hedge my bets’ is the 3rd hole at Bay Hill:

To get a better understanding of what I mean by ‘hedging my bets’ is that with water left, I would not only aim towards the right side of the fairway, but I would then make a swing where I could not hit a hook in fear of the water. Now, more often than not I would not find the water. But, I would instead still hit a lousy shot and end up well right of the fairway and probably making poor contact so the ball would not go very far.

Essentially, I’ve ‘hedged my bets’ by trying to take that 1-bad shot (hook into the water) out of the equation. The problem is that when you ‘hedge your bets’, you never get the payoff. And from what I have understood from Dr. McCabe is that you are actually more likely to hit a poor shot. You’re not ‘going for what you want’ and instead you are playing towards your fears.

I think the same thing is happening to Tiger with his driver.

What do I know about Tiger?

He generally hits every club in the bag VERY well if not the best on Tour, EXCEPT for his driver.

He hits his long irons very well, mid irons…short irons…wedges….etc, all well. The statistics are right there to prove. And he’s a very good 3-wood player. He uses it off the tee a lot and hits it quite well. This despite the 3-wood being the toughest club for PGA Tour players to master.

However, when he gets a driver in his hand, the swing is completely different than the way he typically swings with the rest of his clubs.

I will paint this scenario.

Tiger is on the course and finally pulls out his driver. I can say with certainty that he is going to be playing a pronounced cut-shot off the tee. He’s aimed well left and is obviously trying to cut it. I think most would agree with me that this happens almost every time he pulls the driver out of the bag.

But, when we see him hit the 3-wood off the tee, he rarely plays for that pronounced cut. He usually takes his ‘stock swing’ and tries to hit it straight or with a little draw.

Recently, Tiger stated in an interview that the idea is to eliminate the dead-block off the tee. And with the pronounced cut that he and Sean Foley have come up with, it takes that dead-block right out of the equation. And in Tiger’s words…the miss with the pronounced cut shot is a straight pull and Tiger feels like he can play with a pull.

To me, that sounds like he is ‘hedging his bets.’

The problem is twofold, IMO.

1. A ‘good swing’ with the pronounced cut shot will not produce the same results as a ‘good swing’ with more of his ‘stock swing’ with the driver. A ‘good swing’ with the pronounced cut shot may result in a 300 yard drive down the middle. But had he taken his ‘stock swing’ and struck it pretty well, he may have hit it 340 yards down the middle.

2. Because he’s trying to ‘hedge his bets’, he’s more likely to make bad swings and hit those straight pulls off the tee. He’s playing towards his fears and not playing towards what he wants.

The issue here is that nobody has ever questioned the psyche and mindset of Tiger Woods. Instead, they want to blame Tiger’s struggles with the driver on the mechanics and of course…Sean Foley. However, my feeling is that Foley has squared away his mechanics enough where Tiger hits extremely well with the rest of the clubs in his bag. It’s just that the mentality with the driver and Tiger’s lack of trust in those mechanics when he has the driver in his hand get him away from employing the mechanics that work so well with the rest of the clubs in his bag. And I think if Tiger starts to ‘go for what he wants’ with the driver, just like he does with the 3-wood off the tee, we will see the Tiger of old.



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