Teed Off (Aug 31, 2014)
with Robert Bicknell
Every time I make a vow to not write something about Tiger Woods, he does something newsworthy and screws me up. Last time, I said he wouldn't step aside from the Ryder Cup team due to his inflated ego. Then, of course, he stepped aside. I've been screaming, along with almost everyone else on the planet, that he should dump Sean Foley as his coach…
And he just did it. Finally.
In my opinion, Tiger should take time to heal and then start working with Butch Harmon again. The guy is excellent at what he does and can put him back together again rather quickly as he knows Tiger's strengths and weaknesses. I would also recommend he seek out Dr Bob Rotella, who is an excellent sports psychologist and can help Tiger return to form mentally out there and, as everyone will tell you…golf is 80 per cent mental.
Butch Harmon stresses solid fundamentals and isn't into radical theories. He doesn't need to prove himself to anyone. He has a stable of champion golfers who have worked with him at one time or another, including Tiger. This stability might be exactly what he needs right now.
Hank Haney made a comment that Tiger doesn't need a coach and should only listen to himself. Unfortunately, if you read his book, you'd see Haney was constantly comparing himself to Harmon, as if he was trying to prove who the better coach is. This should automatically disqualify any statement he makes, especially since Harmon is the logical choice. If Tiger went back to Butch, it paints Haney as second best… if that.
I also disagree with Haney's statement for a more important reason… too much information leads to "paralysis by analysis" and it's pretty clear Tiger is suffering from that. Whenever he stands on a tee, you can tell he has a thousand conflicting swing thoughts and theories bouncing around in his head.
The comfort of a familiar face, such as Butch Harmon, getting back to former routines will help quickly dispel any self-doubts Tiger has and restore his confidence. This is probably the biggest problem Tiger faces right now - besides his back. He needs to feel comfortable over the ball and with the information he is getting. Since he's been there before, it should settle in quickly.
In the past, I have counted Tiger Woods out, using phrases like "stick a fork in him, he's done" and the like. However, if he goes back to Harmon, I strongly believe he can make the comeback that most people - especially tour sponsors - have yearned for, providing he takes the time to let his back heal properly.
Paralysis by analysis is something I see quite often as a golf teacher. Students today have far too much conflicting information at their fingertips thanks to the Internet. YouTube, blogs and the like are filled with golf pros, wanna be golf pros and their brothers, all touting their "revolutionary new theory" or a tip "guaranteed to save you strokes".
To be honest, I think that 99 per cent of it is total BS and mostly results in students destroying the swing they had before and leaving them out there hanging.
Sure, there are some reputable professionals who post swing tips from time to time, but the problem is that not all tips work for all people. It depends on the style of swing you have.
For example, a tip that would work great for Phil Mickelson would be a disaster for Tiger (in his prime) because their swings are totally different. Mickelson is a true "swinger", perhaps one of the few left in the game. His swing is mostly centrifugal force. It flows gracefully from the rotation. Whereas Woods was a true "hitter" meaning that 90 per cent of his power came off the back leg and right arm. It wasn't graceful by any stretch of the imagination, but it was very powerful.
Let's flip Mickelson to right handed for the sake of comparison:
A tip that would help a Mickelson style swing fade the ball, would cause a Tiger Woods style swing to hook. It's that simple. Completely different dynamics.
My advice to people wanting to learn or improve their game is to seek a qualified coach. — VNS