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The lessons for Tiger to learn
It seems that pretty much everyone has had their say as to where Tiger Woods is going wrong with his golf swing. But not quite everyone. Now Peter Alliss has his turn...

By the time you read this, Tiger Woods will have shown his competitive face a further time or two and the golfing world will know whether or not he is still playing like the world No.1, is treading water or going backwards. At the Memorial Tournament, it certainly wasn’t the former.

The flurry of interest about him since the Masters has been most interesting. Pretty well all the golfing magazines have asked their teaching gurus as to their opinions of what Tiger needs to do to get back on the straight and narrow - golfing-wise, that is. Hundreds and hundreds, nay thousands, of word have been written about where Tiger has gone wrong and how he should get back to the methods he was using ten years ago.

I find this amusing, particularly when the vast majority of the world’s top teachers have hardly ever broken par when playing their own game, even if that doesn’t mean they can’t pass on some golfing knowledge. Those who have reached the top of the teaching profession have made great studies of the game, but very few, if any, have played at the top level, so they can’t really know the feeling of pressure, although that doesn’t stop them pontificating endlessly about it.

Tiger Woods
As if problems in his personal life were not causing him sufficient worries, since the turn of the year Tiger has found that his game is in the doldrums as well.

“All right, clever dick,” I can hear you say. “What would you do to help Tiger?” Very simply, I believe it is impossible to ‘teach’ Tiger. All that ended round about his 18th birthday. He had his swing, rhythm, grip, stance, alignment - it was only that buzzing in his head that could be shaped, altered, tweaked. Oh, yes, hours could be and were spent learning how to play various chip and bunker shots, read greens, etc but that is no longer the point. Today, I think 90% of Tiger’s golfing woes are in his head.

I would like to stand with him on the practice ground, watch him hit half-a-dozen shots with a medium iron, just to limber up, and then say, after checking his alignment and posture: “Grip the club as lightly as you possibly can, now make a full swing and hit the ball. Do not regrip but hold on to the club.” It sounds ridiculously simple but I’ve found out over the years, when speaking to people who can play but are going through the doldrums, that it’s one of the simplest ways of getting people back on track.

Tiger has been spending a lot of time thrashing at the ball as if the face of every demon in his life was pictured on it and he wished to smash them all to smithereens. That's no good, but again that explanation may be too simple. Whatever, you can't suddenly 'invent' a new Tiger. You can't say "Oh, to hell with it, I think you've been playing the wrong way round all these years. Let's start again left-handed, cack-handed, one-handed..." Of course you can't. A befuddled mind is no good for anything, in any walk of life, but in the sporting arena it's the kiss of death.

In my golfing life, there were very few top players who were able to pass on their golfing knowledge to the public. The first was Henry Cotton, then our best player and, although he married well and had money aplenty, he remained a golf professional and a professional golfer all his life. You could have a lesson from Henry when he was at the Penina Golf Club in Portugal, or indeed any of the golf courses he was ever attached to. He enjoyed the club life.

Bill Cox was another, some 60 years ago, who for a spell had a method that drew general approval. John Jacobs, for a long period, was the absolute master of coaching. Although unbeaten in the one Ryder Cup he played in, he realised he was not going to make it to the top of the tree as a player so he turned to coaching and what a wonderful life he had doing that, and what a wonderful legacy he laid down for future coaching manuals.

There are many good teachers. Granted they come and go, they are the flavour of the month for a while and then they try to think of new ways to hit the ball. Reinventing the wheel? Perhaps. Some are very successful, some team up with a player who wins a major championship and they become the stars of the moment, but, like caddies, they drift in and out of fashion and change partners as quickly as Elizabeth Taylor in her heyday.

So come on, Tiger. I doubt whether you'll ever see this article, but if you do, give it a try. You and your 'minders' have handled things very badly over the last few months. Get your shoulders back, put a smile on your face and show us a really new Tiger Woods. The old one played magnificent golf but had feet of clay. You have the opportunity, if you can take it, of giving the world of golf another ten memorable years, and yourself some peace of mind.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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