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Tiger Woods Swing Sequence
by Simon Holmes

The biggest change in golf instruction over the last 50 years has been the video camera. One of Ben Hogan’s regrets was that he only worked on what he thought he did, not what he actually did. Thanks to modern technology, you have the reality at your fingertips.

You are about to study the swing of the world’s No.1 player, Tiger Woods. It’s a swing of sheer athletic power and poise. Use these still images to get a picture in your mind of the key positions that you can try to copy to build a chain-reaction of your own: a consistent swing that will reward you with more solid ball-striking.

One of the secrets to getting better and practising effectively is that you rehearse one or two simple things a thousand times - and not a thousand different things once! Pay particular attention to the set-up, the takeaway and the top of the backswing positions, all of which are clearly related in a wonderful chain of motion. Use a video to check on your progress as often as you can. That way you will be aware of any unconscious changes that may creep in (and which otherwise would go undetected).

Perfect Address

This angle is called the 'down the line’ view and we use it to analyse the geometry of the golf swing - i.e. the posture, the body angles and the plane (or inclination) of the swing. Because the golf swing starts at what is essentially a static position, good balance at address is vital. Tiger sets his lower body perfectly. Notice how he keeps his hips 'on top’ of the balls of his feet, which means his lower body is in a perfect position to store the power of his turn. Because his lower body is so balanced, he can naturally set his back and neck in a textbook neutral position. Take as much from this image as you possibly can, and rehearse your posture in front of a mirror.

The Takeaway

There are two key things to observe in Tiger’s takeaway. The first is that he displays no independent hand or arm motion. The 'engine’ controlling the takeaway is clearly his torso, with his left arm working across the chest. The second key is that his shoulders are turning exactly on plane - i.e. at 90 degrees to his spine angle. Tiger has improved this position a great deal, and we can see how square the clubface is as the shaft approaches a position horizontal to the ground. Tiger used to get the clubface pointing more down towards the ground at this stage (i.e. 'shut’), but now,working on an improved plane, and with good rotation in his arms and torso, he has changed for the better.

Halfway Back

I see a huge difference in this position from years gone by. The club shaft is now working up on a much shallower plane and the right elbow and left elbow are now more or less level. This has been the result of Hank Haney’s work and Tiger believes he has more stability in his swing and therefore more controlled power. As per the graphic, we can see that Tiger is swinging the club more on one plane, the shaft at this stage clearly relating to the angle of the shaft at the set-up. The red line we have superimposed here illustrates where he used to be - a much steeper backswing plane. So we can see that Tiger has made huge changes in his technique.

Top of the Backswing

Tiger’s arm plane is flatter than it once was,more level with the shoulders, while the position of the right arm has changed drastically. During the Butch Harmon years, Tiger’s arm plane was steeper than his shoulder plane. This got Tiger’s right arm more in front of his right shoulder at the top of the backswing, which gave him a steeper angle of attack but did keep his arms in front of his body. The coil of the body is just so perfect: in balance, on plane totally wound up. Another benefit from Hank Haney’s work is the square clubface, matching up with the angle of the left forearm.

The Transition

Here we can see the real athleticism of Tiger, and the benefit of all those hours in the gym. He is strong enough to be able to start his left hip rotating back towards the target while keeping his back facing the target.

This guarantees a perfect delivery position - and some serious speed. This is all about mobility, stability and strength. Get in the gym!

The Delivery

Just try getting your hips this open with your shoulders that shut. Wow! Here is a serious athlete showing us his moves. The shaft plane is releasing down the right forearm and Tiger is rotating extremely hard with his core. One of the things I feel he will improve in the future is that gap between his left arm and the left side of his chest. I think he will gradually also stay a little taller through the ball, which will help him to maintain the 'connection’ between the upper left arm and the left side of the chest.

The 'Exit’

The shaft now exits on plane, which means no hands-flip through impact, and - especially for Tiger - lower hands through impact. Tiger’s Achilles heel will forever be high hands through impact caused from that separation of the left arm away from the body as he drives and unwinds (see frame 6). High hands with lots of power means lost shots to the right, or a shut clubface - two bad misses. Tiger has improved this and he continues to progress.

The Finish

The only thing to copy here is the balance. Never swing harder or faster than you can stay in balance at the finish. It will be fun to see how Tiger improves in the future, and to see his swing changes. One thing’s for sure: he is getting better. Scary, hey?

 

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