Here’s the background.
He switched swing coaches for the umpteenth – or at least fourth time, but with a wrinkle. He’s going back to his original swing when he was a young man, a swing with more flow and less rigidity. Tiger’s “Doc” Brown is a chap named Chris Como. But know he’s Tiger’s swing consultant, not coach.
Trevor Immelman, 2008 Masters winner, also works with Como. The South African, and winner of the 2008 Masters (by three shots over Tiger) has been going through a dry-spell of late, largely due to a wrecked left wrist, and lauds Como as a bright guy - who’s not a know it all. Golf Digest named the golfing bio-mechanics guru as one of the best young coaches going...He had better be, he charges $1,500 for a half-day’s teaching.
But is Tiger making a mistake going with Como and changing up his swing, yet again? Really, is it wise or worthy for Tiger to try copying his swing from 1997? That’s 18 years ago. The body stiffens with age and is more susceptible to injury – especially when trying to replicate actions and exertions of nearly two decades past. Tiger’s back has been giving him flack, thanks to a lumbar disc herniation. The cause: repetitive strain. Granted, he had a microdiscectomy done to fix that – but when he tries to swing right out of his shoes (don’t kids get excited and try to do that at times?) that’ll hurt. Also, as one ages, though strength sticks around, flexibility and range dissipate. (That stiffening we talked about.) Tiger’s torque could wind up leaving him unwound and bound for medical care once again. Old coach Butch Harmon thinks Tiger’s swinging way too hard…
There is one bright spot. Physical therapist, Mo Skelton, thinks if Tiger, already a strong guy, works on strengthening, amongst other things, his Erector Spinae muscles – which are, in fact, three muscles that run vertical from the waist to the upper back, his recovery just might be successful.
No guarantees though. Undoubtedly Tiger has the best “physio” advice money can buy, but no expert can reduce his aging process. The mind might be willing – but the body? Not so much.
Time will tell, and it’s telling us Tiger’s golf is, well, hell. He completely screwed the pooch at the Phoenix Open, shooting a second round 82 – his worst score as a pro. He had a full repertoire of shots – all lousy. In his next tournament, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, his back flared up because his glutes didn’t “activate.” He had to quit after 11 holes. In the first round. He even has the “chip yips.”
World Golf Rankings has him 62nd best – another worst score as a pro.
So far, for starters, if he can get his glute-bum muscles on fire (a weird visual to be sure – and perhaps such a phenomenon was put to bed when he finished up with his extra-marital partners) Tiger’s probably going to have to settle for a hybrid between the swing of his youth, and his previous-most-recent swing, developed with Sean Foley – and being in the middle of two of anything, let alone swings, usually means one will either be squashed or pulled apart.
Golf Channel commentator, Brandel Chamblee pulls apart the highlights and lowlights of Como, Foley, Haney, and Harmon. (Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?) He sees promise in Como’s emphasis on athleticism for the swing, but is not impressed with Como’s results with not-exactly-household-name pros, Aaron Baddeley, Jamie Lovemark, and Richard Lee. But Chamblee was sure no fan of Tiger’s golf swing with its “forward-shaft lean” (pre Como obviously) in 2014, feeling it was detracting from his game – and aggravating his back.
Yet, in some ways, what Tiger is doing is worthy of admiration. The guy’s always looking to improve and is, apparently, never satisfied with past results and laurels. This is a strength – but it’s a weakness, particularly if his head gets all mixed up with the theories and practical applications of four different swings swirling in his head – as he’s teeing off. He must wonder, too, if he came back from his back surgery too soon. He was off for four months. Golf analyst Frank Nobilo stresses that pro Graham DeLaet took ten months to “get over it...” And Graham describes his pinched nerve in the back as “...the worst pain in my life...” (DeLaet also wonders if he’ll ever be 100% again – and he had his surgery done when he was ten years younger than Woods was for his.)
Tiger turned 39 in December of 2014. He’s got to win at least one major this year to keep on track to at least tie Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major victories. Jack thinks Tiger can beat his record – if he’s healthy. Will Chris Como’s new swing stresses help in that? Tiger has deemed his swing of 1997 as they way he wants to go. So both consultant and player are in sync. That’s huge. But Golf Digest contributor Luke Kerr-Dineen points out – from Tiger’s own words – that Tiger harshly critiqued his 1997 Masters winning swing – back in 1997! Maybe absence – for an old flame and an old swing - does make the heart grow fonder...
As we watch and ponder Tiger’s predicament let’s take some of his doings, philosophically at least, to heart. We should negate complacency and self-satisfaction. We should realize that while perfection isn’t possible, a near perfection of striving should be in our golf bags of life. Let’s aim high. Let’s see what kind of “scores” we reap.
Or we can say, screw that, and just sit back and watch the Tiger-Como swing show.
Right now, it’s a no-go: Tiger just announced he’s leaving the tour…to shape up shoddy swings and things.