By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academy
Finally, after all this time I get to write about Tiger Woods again and after his first win in over two years - it is yet another golf swing to break down. It has been widely publicized that Tiger and swing coach Sean Foley have been working hard to get Tiger back on track with his full swing and putting; and after watching Tiger this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, I would say he is getting closer.
What’s amazing to me is that Tiger has now won a golf tournament on the PGA TOUR with literally three different golf swings. Of course Tiger had great success with Butch Harmon followed by more wins with Hank Haney and now, he is beginning to play at a high level with Sean Foley.
Tiger’s golf swing is noticeably different under the tutelage of Foley. At the TOUR Academies, we get a lot of questions about what Tiger is doing differently now than before. Although this list is a bit lengthy, nothing is perhaps more noticeable than his use of the club face and club shaft during his backswing.
Historically, Tiger would get the club face to open during his backswing with the club shaft laid off at the top of the swing. These positions would make it difficult to get the club shaft on a good downswing plane and back in front of the body to deliver a manageable club head path and club face relationship through impact. As a result, Tiger’s miss was severe and at times unpredictable with the longer clubs. Therefore, Tiger needed to get in better positions at the top if he wanted to get back on track.
The first step to get the club face more square at the top (from open) was to make the grip stronger. A stronger grip sees both hands rotated to the right. Even at this level of play, the impact of the grip is huge. In addition to the grip, Tiger isn’t rotating the club face as much during the backswing. This is evident when the club shaft reaches parallel to the ground and the toe is slightly down and not pointing straight up. This can serve as a great checkpoint for so many of us.
Next, Tiger is keeping the club shaft more on-plane during the backswing. Where the grip influences in the club face, the posture can have the same effect on the plane. You have noticed how Tiger is more bent forward from the hips with his chest closer to the ground. This dynamic allows his left arm to work more under the left shoulder and closer to the body as the shoulders turn. As a result, there is less rotation in the left forearm which allows the club shaft to work more vertical and on-plane.
With the club face square and the club shaft on plane at the
top – Tiger can now once again be instinctive.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.