Saturday, May 22, 2010

Help A Tiger Out Part Deux

I've received a few e-mails about the latest posts from blog friend NYC Lagster on my thoughts (and others) on Tiger Woods' problems with the golf swing. Here are the Gotham Golf Blog posts:


Here's my POST on what I would suggest to Tiger and his swing issues.

For starters, I think most people don't understand where NYC Lagster and I come from. We are both born and bred New Yorkers and New Yorkers love to argue and debate, but that doesn't mean they don't like each other, they just disagree on that particular subject.

This is something that people not from the surrounding area usually don't understand and having spent the last 15 years in the south, I've seen how people misinterpret this. For instance, if somebody did something meaningless and I say 'you are such an asshole', that doesn't mean I actually think of that person as an asshole. It means that at that moment they were acting like an asshole, but it's more or less a throwaway term.

So don't worry, there's no issues between NYC Lagster and I, and I didn't take those posts as anything but him giving his thoughts and disagreements with me on the subject.

However, I'd like to back up my thoughts a little further.

First off, from the news reports and rumors I have heard, Tiger is already back hitting balls and working on his swing and already seeking out some advice on his swing.

Personally from my background and the health issues I've had, I do believe that one can go to rehab and still work on their golf game and even seek out new instruction to make some changes in their swing. IMO, it's not that impossible to do given that Tiger has already spent an extended period of time in rehab and is now in the stage where he needs to continue therapy while resuming his life.

Perhap I'm wrong, but that's just my take.

Secondly, I do not believe Tiger fully understands D-Plane.

Now, in the past Tiger has stated that the initial ball flight direction is due to where the face is pointing. That's better than the 'old ball flight laws' which say it's the path of the clubhead responsible for initial direction, but not exactly accurate.

Still, I'll give him a passing grade as far as the initial direction goes.

However, I doubt he really knows what exactly the path does and where the path has to be to cause the curvature of the ball flight.

And I don't think he has the foggiest idea of what the difference between attack angle vs. downswing plane is and the effects of attack angle on the ball flight and the *path*.


1. In the past year I've talked to the following golfers and asked them what the laws of ball flight were:

- A 2009 conference champion at a D-1 college
- A former 5-time winner on the PGA Tour
- A former PGA Tour player of the year

And all of them got them dead wrong.

In fact, Justin Rose gets it wrong here as well:

PGA Tour players get stuff on their swing wrong all of the time as far as what exactly they are doing. However, thru talent, hand-eye coordination and tons of practice they usually wind up doing at impact what is needed to hit good shots.

But while the video Justin Rose shows may work for him, what he's doing at impact is a different story.

Yet, we are to expect Tiger to know D-Plane pretty well? I don't think so.

2. Tiger always seems to talk about backswing plane and 'getting on plane' when it comes to his swing. I think it's the reason why he's confused and frustrated with his swing and why he likes to say 'we've still got a lot of work to do.' Plane has it's importance, but I think striving for perfect on plane golf swing time after time is an exercise in futility. Yet not once does he ever mention the clubface and you cannot hit a dead block if the clubface is wide open. And if the path is perfectly dead square, 0.0* to the target and the face is wide open, you'll still hit it dead right.

That doesn't sound to me like a golfer that understands D-Plane to me. It sounds like a golfer who more or less memorizes that the clubface is responsible (actually 70-85%) for the initial direction, but doesn't know how to apply it to their swing.

3. Tiger's path is well out to the right with the driver and a major reason why is that his attack angle is pretty steep with the driver (-3*). My guess is that Tiger has probably heard that attack angle is pretty steep but thinks that keeps the ball low which he likes and doesn't want to give up that lower trajectory for more distance (although he could change his driver specs). But I believe he has no idea that the steeper attack angle actually hurts his path.

That doesn't make him stupid, it makes him like most of the golfing public that had the ball flight laws. And that doesn't make guys like Justin Rose 'liars', it just means that they don't know what exactly is going on at impact.

And yes, I know Haney had a Trackman on his first episode of 'The Haney Project with Ray Romano', but he only used it to measure how far Romano was hitting his clubs. In fact, a friend of mine is planning to purchase a Trackman in 2011 and has talked to Trackman founder Fredrik Tuxen about it and Tuxen told him that most of the top 100 teachers have Trackman, but almost none of them use it for instructional purposes (Martin Hall is one of the few he told my friend) and use it for clubfitting purposes instead. And that's why they market Trackman as an instructional tool because so many professionals only accept it as a fitting tool (I think that will change in the next 5 years).

One of Lagster's points is that Tiger should 'dig it out of the dirt.'

My issues with that are twofold.

A. How can one dig it out of the dirt if they don't know how exactly the ball flies? I think Hogan basically figured out the ball flight laws when you look at his stance diagram in '5 Lessons' and there's another story about Hogan hitting a few pulls on the range and stopping to go into his office and figuing it out and then coming out and flushing it and when he was asked what was the problem he said 'the face was closed.'

B. The beauty of digging it out of the dirt is that once you get it, you really get it and it will stick with you probably forever. The problem is that it can take years to dig it out of the dirt and for many, they can spend a lifetime trying to dig it out of the dirt with no success.

I think if he were to really understand D-Plane, he'd start to grasp why he hits those dead blocks with the driver, why the parallel plane theory is flawed, etc. He could start digging it out of the dirt quicker. And a Trackman would even speed up the process even more.

And people forget that Hogan had help along the way, consulting with golfers and instructors like Henry Picard, MacDonald Smith, Mike Austin, and Sam Byrd. I think understanding the D-Plane gets him on the right track and then from there if he wants to heed advice on the swing, he is better equipped to spit out the garbage and take in the good stuff.

I think that's all I would want any golfer to have with them.



NYC Lagster said...

Thanks Rich,
It is okay to disagree, I glad you realize this. I enjoy your blog and I don't mean any ill will towards you or your readers. Lively debate is how we all learn.


Rich H. said...

Not a problem. It sort of surprised me to get e-mails of concern on this since I wasn't hurt or insulted in the least bit. But living in the south for the past 15 years you realize that the way NY'ers and people from around that area talk to each other is different than most of the rest of the nation. These readers just didn't understand that.

They should see me and my friends debate on the Yankees!

Right Wing Political Junkie said...

I hate you asshole.

Anonymous said...

he wont have to change the driver if he does the right changes. His attack angle will be around 0 to 1 degree down and his path will zero it all out. If he does what hes been told. All still on the wont say whom..

Rich H. said...

if he got the attack angle to change from -3 to say 0, he would probably be smart to change the specs on the driver because he'll be hitting it too high. Kevin Streelman went from a -5* to -1* attack angle with his driver in 1 year and took about 2* off the loft on his driver, and stiffened the clubhshaft greatly and even shortened the shaft a bit. He wound up gaining about 30-40 yards off the tee and being just as accurate.

Erik J. Barzeski said...

I disagree that Tiger needs to give a rat's behind about the D plane let alone anything else. I'm sure he knows he hits a push because his path is out to the right.

Tiger either comes over the plane or under it on his downswing. He's got a loop that Haney seems to like and it's not working for Tiger. When he's over it on the downswing he pulls it and slices it. When he's under it he blocks it and hooks it. He's constantly trying to use his hands to save the shot.

The D Plane is for his instructor. I don't doubt that if left to tinker on his own he'd be okay, but I also can't imagine how he's gotten himself into a situation where he thinks this loop is a good thing when it clearly hurts him.

Tiger pushing forward more with the driver wouldn't be a bad thing and would help his angle of attack greatly. Secondary axis tilt is his friend.

But I think his lack of pushing forward is largely a result of his loop and the feeling that he has to "save" shot after shot after shot. Look at the difference in his finish in 2000 - with an iron no less - and with the driver in 2010.

Yes, D plane will help his driving, but I think it's more along the line of "Tiger would rather fix his swing, period, and the D plane (his angle of attack, etc.) will improve as a result."

Rich H. said...

Erik - I think Tiger should know D-Plane so he can figure out what instuctor to go to. The instructor doesn't need to be a big D-Plane guy, but he needs to give instruction that basically adheres to D-Plane and that way he can junk the next Haney or Leadbetter that comes along and take in the stuff that is valid and works for him.

Anytime Tiger talks about his swing, he almost always talks about getting on plane and he's usually referring to the backswing plane. Sure, a push/block has to have a path out to the right in order to hit a straight push. But, the key point here is that Tiger could have the most perfectly square to the target path that the world has ever seen...but it doesn't matter a lick if the face is wide open at impact. That's what Haney doesn't get and we'll see it again on Monday nights with Ray Romano.

Like Teddy said, if Tiger could've figured this out by practicing and digging it out of the dirt, he already would have. I think the golfer is better off and more enpowered to play great golf when they fully understand things and can apply it themselves rather than having to consult with a coach on every move an every issue they have with their swing.

Anonymous said...

Trackman will not help Tiger with his misses. Since when did trackman begin explaining what caused the club to do what it did? It seems as if you have a well rounded understanding of the D Plane. What causes Tiger to come into the ball underplane with the driver? Does he make similar mistakes with other clubs? Why or why not?

The great ballstrikers didn't need a trackman. Sometimes a lie can be the best medicine. I wouldn't jump so hard on Mr. Woods or Mr. Rose or any other player who isn't as well versed with a trackman as you are. Hogan believed in lies too.