Viet Nam News
Robert Bicknell looks at Tiger’s recent clubfitting and finds things we can all learn from.
You know it’s a slow news week when I actually bother to read anything about Tiger Woods, but this involved his fitting sessions for his TaylorMade clubs and I was a bit fascinated with his thought processes. We tend to forget the guy is a Stamford graduate, so he’s not a dumb jock as many would suspect, this guy understands all the technology which goes into the design of the clubs and what it is supposed to do.
TaylorMade helped ease the transition to their clubs by bringing former Nike employee Mike Taylor, who worked on Woods’s irons and wedges when he used equipment with a swoosh, on board. Tiger has the utmost confidence in the guy, so he knows he has someone there who knows exactly what he wants.
Tiger is fully into ball flight, so if the ball isn’t doing what he expects it to do, he isn’t a happy camper. For example, when testing a new muscleback 6-iron, Tiger thought the “window” was a bit high, so TaylorMade began checking the centre of gravity on the club.
What got my attention was Tiger’s reference to “the window” because this was something I focused on as a youth (Read: 35 years ago). In a nutshell, when the ball left my club, I imagined it going through a small window roughly 20 yards from where I was standing. If the ball was outside that “window” I knew I missed my shot. The window was, of course, adjusted for the loft of the club, i.e., a 2-iron was lower, a wedge higher, etc.
Tiger’s comment reminded me of this trick and I cannot wait to get to the driving range and start working on it again. It’s funny how we forget some basics as we get older.
Remember the old phrase, “he’s forgotten more about the golf swing than most kids today will ever learn?” Bingo. That’s me. Greg Norman did it to be a few years ago at the VGCC Driving Range when someone asked him a question and he said, “Check the divot. That will tell you everything.”
I had to smile because that’s a level one basic. The problem is that, nowadays, most teaching is done at the driving range on mats. That robs a teacher of a vital piece of information when diagnosing a swing problem and is my biggest argument to support golf academies with grass tees.
Depth and direction of the divot, plus the ball flight will tell a good teacher quite a lot. Yes, I know today we have Trackman, Flightscope and even phone apps to check swing path and ball flight tracking, but the divot is still vitally important information.
Tiger also mentioned that he is a firm believer in the “waggle” as I am. Even before you actually hit a ball, you can tell how the club feels just by waggling it. However, to do this correctly, you need “educated” hands. Most people really don’t know how to grip a club properly in the first place. The hands are the only connection you have to the club, so it has to be right and you have to learn to trust them.
Tiger, like me, believes the hands control the swing. Yes, I know this flies in the face of a lot of instruction articles which tell you to not use the hands, or tells you to take the club back with the shoulders. This is something I have never agreed with. To me, your hands lead the backswing and everything else follows. It also explains why I hit 300 yard drives, and why I was a long ball hitter in baseball. It’s a natural progression of movement.
For the record, teachers in the old days told players to never use their hands because it would result in snap hooks, etc, which was true with whippy hickory shafts, but has no place in today’s golf swing which features pretty stiff and responsive shafts. Hands, nowadays, have a very important role to play but it has to be done correctly.
Anyway, as I said, the Golf Digest article was quite fascinating. Please check it out for yourself, it should open your eyes and get you thinking.
Now, excuse me, I gotta go practise hitting balls through a window…VNS