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Tiger Needs A Swing Coach?

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland
Peter Thomson

Peter Thomson is interviewed by Mark Reason on the occasion of Peter’s 80th birthday.

Peter does a wee bit of Tiger-bashing but it’s Peter’s "It's absurd that the world's greatest golfer is taking lessons…” that caught my eye. Peter appears to be indicating that he’s taking swing coaches to task.
Later confirmed by his remark, “Throw out the coaches and start thinking for yourselves.”

Who am I to disagree with a great golfer like Peter Thomson?
Nevertheless I’m entitled to have an opinion based on the definition of “swing coach”.

The term “swing coach” has gained popularity in recent years. In the old days they were called “teachers” and they didn’t always suggest swing changes. Acting more like a teacher keeping a watchful eye on his pupil.
Take for instance the Jack Nicklaus, Jack Grout teacher, student relationship which worked very well over a long period of time.

It’s my understanding it worked so well, because Grout knew what worked well for Jack. And when things weren’t working too well for the Golden Bear. All that was required was for Jack to go see someone who knew his swing and could observe the tiny bad habits that had crept into his game. In other words Grout, didn’t suggest swing changes, merely pointed out what Jack was doing differently to the times when he was playing well.

Nobody ever called Stewart Maiden, Bobby Jones’ “swing coach” although it has been suggested that Bobby would never have won thirteen titles and the Grand Slam without the guidance of Stewart Maiden.

As a further example of someone being familiar with a golfer’s swing and merely pointing out where his student was going wrong. There’s a true story which goes something like this.

Bobby was having problems with his swing while preparing for a tournament far from East Lake. And Bobby’s father instructed Stewart Maiden to catch a train and go help Bobby.
After his lengthy train ride, Stewart caught up with Bobby on the practice ground. Had one look at his swing and said something like, “Ye dinnae hit the ba’ wi yer backswing laddie.” And walked away in a matter of minutes. All the swing coaching that was involved was Stewart’s observation that Bobby was swinging too fast on his backswing.

As to Tiger’s need for a “swing coach”?
Depends what you mean by “swing coach”.
Tiger’s recent record, apart from Turnberry and Hazeltine, suggests he’s found what works for him and all that’s now needed is for Hank Haney to observe and then point out minor differences to Tiger’s swing when he’s having problems.

We all need someone who is familiar with our game when it works well. And who can point out what we are doing differently to when we are not playing well. Like in my case someone who’ll remind me, “You’re cutting your putts again Stanley!!!”
If I’m lucky I’ll observe this for myself but hey I’m human and have lots on my mind.
Hopefully my “minder” will remind me long before I’ve suffered several rounds of 40 putts or more.

This one’s for Kiwis who have an above average desire to know all about Steve Williams and what he has to say about Tiger at Hazeltine
Steve says, "There was heavy overnight rain, so a lot of spike marks on the greens. You miss a couple, like on the first when we both misread it, and you get defensive. Those putts are usually automatic for Tiger."

Thought for the day about improving your golf scores.
Find a guy or gal who knows your golf game very well and who you can call upon for guidance.
Like before rushing off to a swing coach who is unfamiliar with what works well for you Ask a friend first.



This post was originally published on the 26th of August 2009.  It is being republished as part of a 'best of' series, running over the next two weeks.

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