Tiger Woods, Human Being

Everybody has to tell you what they think about Tiger Woods’s current troubles. I don’t feel that I have to tell you, but I will anyway, because this is something I know a great deal about.

Tiger had back surgery last year. We all know this. I had back surgery, two of them, three years ago. So I know something about what’s going on with him right now.

Tiger tried to come back last year much too soon, and it showed. What he doesn’t know, or won’t admit, is that it is still too soon. Backs take a long time to heal.

It was two years before I felt I could swing a golf club without it affecting my back. That was after one year of looking for a swing that put the minimum strain on my back that a golf swing can.

Tiger is trying to be the same golfer he was, which he isn’t and never will be again, and he’s trying to do it while he’s still healing.

In a nutshell, he thinks he is different from everyone else. He’s not. He’s human just like the rest of us, but he’s too proud to admit it.

Let’s get specific. After he withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open three weeks ago, he said his glutes weren’t activating. The gluteus muscles receive their innervation from nerves originating at the L5-S2 region of the spine. If they truly were not activating, he has serious nerve damage and should not be swinging a golf club.

If activating your glutes is some new swing theory, I’d like to hear more about it.

What’s really happening is he is trying to sound intellectual and has no idea what he’s talking about.

Woods won the U.S. Open once on one good leg, but he can’t finish 18 holes with a bad back like he has. No one can. He doesn’t want to own up to the fact that he is no longer Superman, but just a man.

As for the chipping thing, that’s anybody’s guess, but it’s not related to a swing change. That is a crock of horse manure.

I wish Tiger well, but nothing will get better until he stops lying to himself. His life has changed and it’s not going back to what it ever was. Ever.

To Sink Putts, Practice Sinking Putts

I’ll tell you what got me from being an average recreational putter to a very good recreational putter. I practiced sinking putts. That’s what we’re trying to do, so that’s what I practiced.

To be sure, I changed my grip, my stance, and my stroke in order for my mechanics to allow me to hit the putt where I want it to go. You have to have the technical points down or you’re not going to get anywhere.

I also got better at reading greens, though that is an ongoing project.

But beyond that, I trained my mind to see a putt as a ball going into the hole. I did this by sinking three-foot putts all over the place on the practice green. Dozens and dozens of three-footers, all going into the hole. By now it’s hundreds and hundreds.

You might say, it’s pretty easy to sink three-foot putts one after the other, and I would say, You’re right. But …

Because I’ve done it so often, and continue to do it so often, with such frequent success, my subconscious mind doesn’t know anything else about a putt except that it goes in the hole.

Your subconscious mind is not subtle. It is black and white. All it knows is the putt went in the hole or it stayed out. When the ball goes in all the time, the mind comes to believe that’s what the ball is supposed to do, and does not question it.

My teaching pro said the best putter on his college golf team, hands down, practiced mainly one-foot putts. One foot! Somebody said to him, “You’re making a lot of putts, but they’re only one foot long!” The guy replied, “Yes, but my putter doesn’t know that.”

Believe me, sinking putt after putt changes everything. The body starts executing the stroke on that basis, and Voila! Putts in the hole all over the place.

Oh, I know, you have to read the green and get the pace right for the ball to have a chance. But when it comes time to hit the ball, it all comes down to believing in what you’re doing. Having sunk oceans of putts creates that belief.

Don’t just practice putting. Practice sinking putts.

Your Hands Lead the Clubhead

Have I ever said that before? (Only a million times, I hear you cry.)

I got a lesson a few days ago in what happens if you DON’T do this.

I went out to play nine and ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while, so we went off as a twosome.

He has a pretty good-looking swing, but let me tell you. Almost everything he hit was a chunk. Off the tee he was OK, because it’s hard to chunk the ball when it’s two inches off the ground.

But on the ground, forget it. Irons, chunk. Pitches, chunk city. It would take him three shots to get onto the green from 100 yards because they were all chunks.

So I decided to watch. Know what I saw? His hands quit right before impact and the clubhead led the way. EVERY time.

I wanted so much to say to him, just do (this) and you’ll be fine. But you don’t say those things.

I’m saying it to you, though, because I saw a classic example of what the clubhead leading the hands does for you, and it ain’t a pretty sight.

It doesn’t matter who you are. GET THIS RIGHT. Learn to have your hands lead the clubhead. You can read about it in Six Fundamentals (it’s Fundamental Five).

Or you can do the towel drill from a post I wrote almost three years ago. But LEARN IT.

There is no way you will ever hit the ball well, consistently well,
otherwise.

A Mental Forward Press

Rhythm is everything in hitting a golf ball. From a putt to a drive, there has to be rhythm. I spend a lot of time talking about the 3:1 rhythm in this space, how to learn it, how to apply it, but there’s one more little thing I want to mention about rhythm.

Rhythm itself has rhythm.

Whenever you start something abruptly, you’re overcoming the inertia of the rest state. There is bound to be a jerk, however slight, that takes a little effort on your part to smooth out again.

Uncorrected, this disturbance can be enough to throw off your golf swing by just enough to make a difference you don’t want to be made.

We need, then, a way to start rhythmically. The rhythm of the swing is set, but the start of the swing needs to have a rhythm, too.

Think of the swing as a back and forth motion. You swing back to the right, and play off that rhythmically with a swing back to the left to hit the ball.

To start smoothy, the rightward motion needs to have something to play off of, too. That would be a slight motion to the left that we know as a forward press.

Normally that’s a physical movement, but I want you to express it in your mind, where it’s even more effective.

Just before you take the club away, the tiniest split-second before, imagine making a small rhythmic movement to the left, then move right away into your swing and its rhythmic 3:1 counting: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 up, and 5 down.

[See Six Fundamentals for an explanation of this counting.]

Remember that the mind leads the body. If the mind starts smoothly with this mental upbeat, the body will too. Guaranteed.

Try this. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The Golf Swing Is a Pulling Motion

You can’t push a rope. Heard that one before?

When you pull something, it follows wherever you go. But when you push something, the slightest misdirection ends up in a big error at the finish.

Ever tried to back up a trailer hooked to your car? You pulled it there just fine, but backing it up (pushing it) into place ain’t so easy.

Well, you can’t push your golf swing, either. Everything about it is a pulling motion.

When you take the club back, the hands pull everything around with them.

But to start the downswing, the hands are in position only to push something, and if they lead, the results are disastrous.

It’s the body that does the pulling at the start of the downswing. The arms and hands go along for the ride.

Once they are low enough, about hip-height, the hands can start pulling again, pulling the golf club through the impact area, while the body continues to pull as it turns.

There’s your golf swing. Pull back, pull through.