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VietNamNews

Teed Off (Mar. 9, 2014)

Update: March, 09/2014 - 17:46

with Robert Bicknell

Hmm… I guess we can add "back trouble" to Tiger Woods's new repertoire of maladies. If a rebuilt knee and a horrible golf swing just wasn't enough already, he is now dealing with an injury apparently incurred (according to an article a few months ago) when he was attacked by his bedding. Yes, a soft mattress can do that to you…I guess.

I suppose nobody bothered to look at his new, improved golf swing as the possible culprit.

As a teaching pro, one of my major concerns is making sure a person's golf swing allows their body to function in the way it was designed. No unnatural movements which can easily result in injury. The human body is capable of producing amazing power and speed - providing you allow the body to function correctly. Tossing in unnatural movements simply increases the odds of getting hurt eventually.

When I used a "conventional" swing (i.e., body centric) I almost always had back pain - 40 years of it. Sure, as a professional golfer this used to be literally "par for the course", but since changing my swing to "club centric" (i.e., more focus on what the clubhead is doing instead of my body) a few years ago, I have been able to increase the length and accuracy of my shots using less power and, therefore, less stress on my body.

My back hasn't hurt since then.

One of the oldest sayings on the planet is "It's not what you do, but how you do it" and I firmly believe this to be true.

Legendary player Johnny Miller believes that if Tiger Woods had stuck with his original swing, he would have passed Jack Nicklaus' record a long time ago and I agree with him. His swing in college was very natural. Even the swing he had with Butch Harmon was better than what he was doing in later years with Hank Haney and light-years better than what he's doing now with Sean Foley.

Another old saying is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and this is very wise advice. Far too many players have fallen off the planet after changing the swing that go them to the dance in the first place.

The problem is at that level, you always want to improve and keep an edge over the other players, but very few take the time to consider that when in the process of changing one thing, it will affect the other parts of the swing as well.

For example, if you change your grip just a few degrees, you have changed your entire swing because everything in your arm and wrist will align differently. This will change your approach angle and the way you impact the ball. Everything is relative.

There is no change you can make to one part of the golf swing which does not have an effect on every other part of the swing. This is basic biomechanics. Your body works in a certain way to produce power and accuracy. Change part of it and you change the entire thing.

When a player comes to me looking to add distance, my antennae begin to twitch and before I even agree to work with them, I want to see their swing. If they have other problems other than distance, then I will consider it because changing something to give them more distance can be combined to straighten out their shots as well. In short, it is usually a moderate to total rebuild of the swing, but for the better.

However, if a player is hitting them laser straight and the length is within acceptable range, I would hesitate to make any changes because it would most likely affect their ability to hit the targets as effectively.

Straight is better than long because any idiot can learn to bust the drive long, but to keep it in play and hit your landing zones is not as easy. The trees and lakes are full of long hitters, but it's the ones hitting the fairways and greens who usually walk off with the trophy.

Tiger should watch some old films of his swing and see what he's doing differently. This little trip down memory lane might also help him re-discover what made him special in the first place.

In short, he just might find himself again. — VNS

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