For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do ?
At a tournament in China recently Tiger was overheard talking to Rory about swing changes.
Tiger said that he was struggling with Foley’s (his coach) version of the Stack & Tilt swing, saying that he was having some trouble controlling his short iron distances, and that all of a sudden he’s thinking “divots” when he didn’t take much of a divot under his previous coaches.
In the tournament last weekend, he seems to have solved the problem because his wedge play was exceptional, but there is still a part of his swing that he needs to tweak.
Foley has Tiger working on a Stack & Tlit type swing but with a couple of adjustments that Foley apparently thought were appropriate.
I’m sure that’s all well and good by the creators of the S&T Swing, Mike Bennet and Andy Plummer. They advocate working all or parts of their technique into a students process depending on what they are working with.
I’m also sure that they wish Foley had given them a little bit of credit for what he learned from them, but that’s water over the dam.
I know the S&T Swing intimately, I use the swing myself, and teach all or parts of it to my students depending on a few considerations. My ball-striking lesson weighs heavily on the principles of the S&T method.
As such, I have a few thoughts on the direction that Foley will probably steer Tiger, and if you are struggling with a short iron swing that’s too steep these thoughts should help you also.
First of all, although he was great in the past, I think Tiger’s ball striking has improved significantly under Foley’s tutelage.
Having said that, even though a steep angle of approach is part and parcel of the S&T swing – especially for scoring irons – Tiger’s seems extreme to me.
A very abbreviated snapshot of the S&T swing – by the book – is as follows: – weight feathered onto the forward foot at address – either a front sided pivot or a centered pivot during the takeaway and backswing, with absolutely zero weight shift away from the front side – a lateral shift forward, with more weight transfer continuing forward during the downswing – a straightening of the forward leg and a hip thrust to provide velocity and to provide the appropriate angle of attack into the ball.
Keep in mind that the above is an overview, not a complete description of the technique. But it’s enough to understand the following explanation of what’s not happening in Tiger’s swing.
Stacking weight forward with no weight shift to the rear promotes a steep angle of attack into the ball, which is generally desirable with your scoring irons.
Tiger does most of what’s described above EXCEPT that he does not perform a significant forward lateral weight shift or the hip thrust. When these moves are done correctly, it shallows the angle of attack into the ball and diminishes the depth of the divot. It’s apparent that a significant lateral weight shift and hip thrust has been executed when the player finishes with an inverted C posture, not straight up and down. For whatever reason, it appears that Foley has not had Woods work these components into his swing.
Personally, when I teach I sequence a student’s swing training from a ball-striking lesson, where they learn how to hit “ball first” – “ground second” with consistency, to learning how so shallow out their angle of approach for non scoring irons, woods, and their driver.
I think that Tiger needs to add a little more pure S&T technique to his swing, namely a little more lateral weight shift forward coupled with a hip thrust. You’ll be able to tell when that happens, just observe his posture to see if there is an inverted C in his posture in his finish.
Many so called experts have written that this type of finish is brutal on the back. When it’s done correctly – which is via a hip thrust forward with your upper swing center remaining stable – there’s no downside to it at all as far as back problems go. Biomechanical research backs this up.
There was back danger involved in the traditional swing coupled with the inverted C finish. That finish got there by setting up with a tilt away from the ball, and then leaning more away from the ball during or prior to impact in an attempt to “stay behind the ball “.
It will be interesting to see if Tiger makes changes, and if you are hitting your scoring irons too steeply and are taking huge divots, add some forward lateral weight shift to your downswing and the divots will get shallower.
Make next year your best year.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf,