What is with Tiger’s driving?

Ever since he showed up on tour young golfers (and probably quite a few older ones as well) have tried to emulate Tiger Wood’s swing. Bob Rotella, the sports psychologist involved with a number of the top players, once said that he could not figure out why. With the kind of driving statistics that Tiger displayed that is the last thing you should want to model. After the Masters this year there was a lot of talk about Tiger’s driving and I saw an article saying that Tiger’s driving stats had gone from 68.66 per cent of the fairways hit when Butch Harmon was coaching him to 57.82 per cent in the Hank Haney era. That is interesting but is it surprising?

Even though Tiger is a phenomenon unlike anybody else when it comes to his skill and ability to play this game I do not think he can beat the principals of motor learning and technical development and most of all, transferring skills from the practice range to the competitive situation. Changing a golf swing is not easy. Doing it the way most golfers and most coaches try to do it is even more difficult. So what should Tiger do? Well, for what it is worth, here is some advice from the DOC:

  • Take charge of your own development and don’t rely on a coach to give you the magic pill.
  • As in any target game, focus and attention needs to be on the target and nowhere else.
  • Experiment with different ways of getting the ball to the target; a big hook, a fade, a draw, a huge slice. What do you need to do to create those shots?
  • Set yourself challenges; 3 balls – 1 draw, 1 fade, 1 straight – how many fairways can you hit? Anything that will help you simulate some sort of pressure. Difficult to get to Augusta standards I know, but anything is better than nothing!
  • Use varied practice as much as you can, i.e. try and simulate the way golf is played where you never (ok, perhaps on a really bad day…) hit two shots in a row with the same club.
  • Try and find the important check points for your technique so that you can return to them every now and then. Don’t spend any more than 10 minutes on that when practicing though as the rest of the time you want to simulate the game of golf which is really what you want to improve.
  • Follow your progress and check that what you are doing is making you better. If not change your challenges, drills and exercises and try again!  
  • And yes, I nearly forgot – pick up a copy of this book. It is on sale!
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