Why Tiger and I could never find a golf coach?
News of Tiger’s departure from his most recent coach, Chris Como, should come as no surprise to anyone. Tiger’s growing list now includes the so-called world’s best instructors: Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, Sean Foley and now Chris Como. It’s also worth mentioning that Tiger has spoken to so many more and gotten their feedback over the years. After the “interviewing” process, he chose not to hire many of them. I’ve gotten to know many that Tiger has hired and interviewed over the years. They all share a common passion for teaching and genuinely wanted to help Tiger. But why would Tiger end up firing all of them? Why were they not able to provide for him what he needed? What is it that he needs?
Watching Tiger go through this process brought back memories, and not good ones. After winning back-to-back Northern California Junior Points (Annual) totals, winning back-to-back Fred Haskins Trophies (Heisman Trophy of College Golf), being the #1 ranked Amateur in the world and having back-to-back years on the PGA Tour where I finished in the top 20 money winners, I got talked into trying some new coaches, as I was told that was the only way to become the #1 player in the world. Ben Doyle had been my coach for 10 years and I felt my game had reached a point where my game had plateaued. Never wanting to look back and regret that I didn’t at least try a new coach, I went for it. Like Tiger, I would talk to my Tour friends whom I trusted and get their opinions on who were the best coaches. Of course, they all advocated the coach with whom they were working. That’s part of the ethics of being on Tour and having a coach. As a player, you want their success too, just like they wants yours. Like Tiger, I dabbled with them for a while before I committed. Some I committed to longer than others, just like Tiger.
Like Tiger, I got differing opinions from different coaches. The one thing they all had in common is that they wanted me to make some pretty significant style changes, some I just wasn’t capable of doing. The changes were all different and some even conflicted with one another. One coach wanted my swing plane steeper in the backswing, the other wanted it flatter. One coach wanted a slight cupping of the left wrist at the top of the backswing, the other wanted the wrist to be flat. One coach wanted my hands low at address, the other, high. One coach wanted me to have a shorter backswing with a smaller hip turn, the other just wanted to change my setup posture, etc. Tiger has been experiencing the very same things that I did.
Not once did I ask the one question I should have asked. This is probably my biggest regret I have of my 15+ years on the PGA Tour and could have changed the outcome of my career. Though the question is fair, I sincerely doubt any of the coaches could have given me a satisfactory answer. But I would have really enjoyed hearing the answer. So what is the question? “How is this style change you want me to make going to affect my impact?”
Impact is the only thing that really matters in golf. It is 100% responsible for sending the ball where it goes. Where the ball goes is 100% due to the conditions created at impact. Like I used to joke with my caddie Cliff Robinson on the Champions Tour, “The ball goes where I hit it every time!” Sure, things you alter in your swing can affect your impact, but the real key to understanding golf lies in answering the question “How”?
I didn’t mention my other coaches, because I don’t believe in throwing them under the bus. They genuinely wanted to help me, were gracious with their time, but they were all looking in the wrong direction. I believe Tiger is experiencing the very same thing. Tiger was the #1 ranked player in the world with each of his three coaches and also was #1 without a coach. One of his coaches, who had been one of my new coaches for a while confided in me that he actually taught Tiger differently that he did me and others. He let Tiger determine the direction the coaching would go. I found that very interesting a certainly a departure from how he coached me. I think that was wise on his part and kept Tiger playing well. But did it improve him? He wouldn’t have left if he had kept improving. Tiger likes playing his best.
I am perturbed by the vast array of so-called “experts” in the field (golf announcers), who give their opinion about how much they like or dislike the newest swing style changes of Tiger. Some are a little better than others about expressing thoughts on the air, but I’ve just got to say that Brandel Chamblee drives me nuts! How I’ve witnessed times that Brandel would argue with Frank Nobilo (who has a better understanding than most announcers) about why this new position looks good or not. How many times has Brandel had to back-peddle his way into having to admit he was simply wrong about Tiger. Brandel’s confusion stems around his “Style-based” philosophy. Brandel needs to learn that golf is not a game of styles of swing like he thinks it is.
Style-based methods are changing as often as new religions, new ones seem to be born every day. You can have your smorgasbord of style-based methods, from: Stack and Tilt, Square to Square, The A Swing, The Connection Swing, The True Plane swing, One Plane Swing, The Two Plane Swing, The Gravity Golf Swing and so on. Then the biomechanic experts chime in about postures and rotations and how they improve your swing. All are subjective opinions without evidence that the styles they are advocating actually works to improve your game. The crazy thing is that the avid golfer is consumed with all this mumbo jumbo and is so easily sucked into the frenzy. My gosh, how many times have you seen instructors teaching during a television show and watched how they completely contradicted eachother and themselves in the same show. Never have golfers been so confused as they are today. No wonder 4 million quit every year. It’s a style-based epidemic that has duped golfers into thinking change your style of swing to theirs and you’ll be a better golfer. Instead, they get no where, their games don’t improve and they get frustrated. I hear way too much how they had lost hope.
What I think Tiger is beginning to discover is what I discovered many years ago that led to my creating “Impact-Based” Instruction. What else explains why Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Eamonn Darcy, Miller Barber, Corey Pavin, Bernhard Langer, Jim Thorpe, Fuzzy Zoeller, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and countless others have had such great careers with such unorthodox and even in some cases, ugly swings. It certainly isn’t their swing style! The common ingredient of all these great champions is “impact”.
Tiger has proven this! He’s been #1 in the world with countless different styles of swings. In my opinion, Tiger doesn’t need a coach. He knows more than they do anyway. At least he doesn’t need a coach that’s going to try to improve his style of swing. Improving his golf, Tiger needs to stick with his style that he’s comfortable and feels that he can repeat in competition. He then needs to fine tune his impact, consistency and cause/affect understanding. If he can keep it simple, it will allow for the brilliant artist that exists to come out and paint the pallet of great shots. The world waits with anticipation.
I developed the only teaching system that focuses on golf’s moment of truth, impact. Understanding proper impact and how to achieve it is the most important element in improving one’s game. Discover Impact-Based® Instruction for yourself. If this makes sense to you, then so will www.impactzonegolf.com