Tiger's New Swing: An Analysis of Tiger Woods' New Swing Techniqueby John Andrisani
Tiger Woods, the world's greatest golfer, has switched teachers and everybody is talking about his new swing. There have been numerous changes to his technique since renowned author and golf instructor John Andrisani's bestselling The Tiger Woods Way hit the shelves in 1997. And the overall improvement in Woods' game has everyone asking the same question:/i>
Tiger Woods, the world's greatest golfer, has switched teachers and everybody is talking about his new swing. There have been numerous changes to his technique since renowned author and golf instructor John Andrisani's bestselling The Tiger Woods Way hit the shelves in 1997. And the overall improvement in Woods' game has everyone asking the same question: what is he doing differently since switching to teaching guru Hank Haney and how can I use these lessons to improve my own game?
Drawing from interviews with golf instructors familiar with Tiger's swing, professional golfers who have played with Tiger, television golf analysts, and his own independent study and analysis of Tiger's game, Andrisani offers detailed, easy-to-follow instructions on Woods' new swing in short, simple chapters for the first time anywhere. With numerous photos--clearly showing the differenced btwn Tiger's new and old swing--this book is a must-have for Tiger fans and golfers everywhere.
“Andrisani, after rigorous analysis, has plumbed the body physics of Tiger's 'Turbo Drive' swing and explains it in this book.” Saturday Evening Post
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Tiger's New Swing
An Analysis of Tiger Woods's New Swing Technique
By John Andrisani
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2005 John Andrisani
All rights reserved.
To become a powerfully accurate shot maker, you must go through what Tiger calls "The Process," and be willing to make changes to your setup, backswing, and downswing, even if that means choosing a new golf instructor to guide you.
Tiger Woods calls the search for the perfect swing a process, which is a euphemism for constant experimentation relative to the basics governing the setup, swing, and shot-making technique, extreme practice sessions, and an uncanny ability to somehow stay enthusiastic and even-tempered when swing changes fail to yield immediate, positive, and encouraging results on the golf course.
The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre explained in Being and Nothingness, his existential literary masterpiece, that since childhood humans are obsessed with filling holes, citing cases of boys and girls sticking their fingers in their mouth or making holes in walls then sticking their fingers in the holes to fill them.
Since childhood, Tiger Woods has been obsessed with knocking a little white ball into a four-and-one-quarter-inch hole in the least number of shots, and thanks to the early guidance of Earl Woods, his father and first swing mentor, Tiger learned that the only true shortcut to low scoring is developing a good golf swing — one that is easy to repeat, produces powerfully accurate shots, and performs consistently well under pressure.
There have been many great players who have come to this same realization, most notably Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus. But not since Ben Hogan dominated golf in the 1950s, winning the only three of four major championships he competed in during 1953, has there been a professional golfer who has worked as diligently as Eldrick "Tiger" Woods to develop the best possible golf swing. Hogan labored daily on the driving range, hitting hundreds of practice shots and constantly testing out new setup and swing positions until he developed an antihook swing.
Whereas Hogan depended most on his own instinct to guide him in the search for swing secrets that would allow him to make more solid contact with the ball and hit more fairways off the tee, Woods has always relied on intellect as the guiding force. Throughout his entire golf career, Tiger has sensibly chosen instructors who, based on his own research, would lift his game to the next level. This intelligent approach to learning is what has allowed him to stay confident and strong under the fire of criticism from the golf press, during transitional periods.
The heaviest attacks started after he shocked the golf world by winning the 1997 Masters by twelve shots, then, not long after, announcing that he wanted to change his swing to develop a true A-game. Tiger was called everything from cocky to crazy, particularly after going winless in major championships until capturing the 1999 PGA championship. But if that win was not enough to silence the skeptics and prove to them that they were wrong and Tiger was right to change his swing, capturing the Tiger Slam (2000 U.S. Open, 2000 British Open, 2000 PGA and the 2001 Masters) did the trick.
Tiger also won the 2002 Masters and 2002 U.S. Open, which further helped his case, until announcing — to the dismay of avid golfers around the world — that he was once again going to be working on developing an even better swing. Instantly, sports journalists were back pounding the keys of their laptops, again writing lead stories questioning Tiger's motives, and not just to sell copies of the newspaper or magazine they represented. Logically, what Tiger was doing did not make sense, at least to anyone but Tiger.
When Tiger failed to win any of the final two major championships of 2002, then none in 2003 and 2004, sportswriters understandably had a field day. Any other golfer but Tiger, who was so severely scrutinized and questioned again and again about the logic of tinkering with an already winning swing, would certainly have lost their cool, crumbled mentally, or tossed their clubs into a closet and never ever opened its door again. This may sound farfetched, yet great players, such as two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and past golfing great Severiano Ballesteros, gambled with new teachers and swing theories and lost.
The reason Tiger did not fold or cave during press conferences had a lot to do with his father Earl Woods — "Pops" — who trained Tiger from an early age how to be more resilient by purposely trying to distract him during play. Earl's boot-camp type of training included tossing a ball in front of the one Tiger was aiming at, or coughing in the middle of Tiger's swing, or dropping a bag of clubs down on the ground as Tiger was entering the impact zone. Harsh as these tactics seem, they served the purpose of helping Tiger learn how to tune out outside distractions and concentrate on the shot at hand. Consequently, because of Tiger's mental toughness, more often than not the criticism seems to have gone in one ear and out the other.
Tiger's father also taught him to trust his teachers, most notably Rudy Duran, who taught him from ages four to nine, John Anselmo, who coached Tiger from ten until eighteen, and Butch Harmon who worked with Tiger from 1993 to the summer of 2002. Tiger, thus, always had faith in what he was doing under a teacher's guidance, even if his game failed to improve right away.
All of the aforementioned top instructors helped Tiger improve and become a more complete player, so he had no reason to believe that the tips given to him by Hank Haney, the new teacher he first hooked up with in the spring of 2004, would not propel his swing to new and improved heights. Tiger's certainty, based largely on pure experience,along with a positive attitude, helped him stay focused and remain cool in the line of fire during post-round press conferences.
To understand Tiger's learning process and evolution as a super swinger of a golf club, it's important to appreciate the major technical contributions made by Tiger's father and the trio of extremely qualified PGA instructors that coached him prior to Haney: Duran, Anselmo, and Harmon, in that order.
The biggest contribution made by Earl Woods was teaching Tiger that the setup, or starting position, in golf is governed by the elements of grip, stance, clubface aim, and body alignment. Furthermore, that what's commonly called the address position should be taken very seriously, because to a large degree the setup dictates the type of swing the golfer employs. Tiger's father also taught his son the most fundamental movements of the swing, showing him how to take the club back smoothly, arrive at the top with the club's shaft parallel to the flight line, and trigger the downswing with the lower body. These three keys put Tiger on the right track and gave him the best possible chance of returning the club squarely and solidly to the ball at impact.
Rudy Duran, Tiger's second instructor and head professional at the Heartwell Golf Course in Southern California, changed his grip from a full-finger hold to an interlock type hold, the same grip Tiger uses today and, incidentally, the grip that Jack Nicklaus depended on when he was winning major championships. The grip is an element of the setup that Tiger, as well as top pros and top teachers, consider the "engine room" of the swing. You should, too, whether you interlock your right pinky and left forefinger like Tiger does when gripping, or let your right pinky ride atop your left forefinger, like the majority of players do on the PGA, LPGA, Champions, and Nationwide tours.
One chief contribution John Anselmo made as a teacher involved teaching Tiger the art of employing a rhythmic to and fro action, by having him hold a range ball basket with both hands and swing it back and through. Anselmo put a basket in Tiger's hands before he had him swing a golf club, knowing that this strategy would teach Tiger to concentrate more on the feel of the swing motion and less on hitting at the ball. Anselmoconveyed one magical thought that allowed Tiger to appreciate the value of swinging a basket: "The golf ball will always get in the way of a good swing, and swinging the basket will allow you to develop a great golf technique and hit the ball far and straight." This basket drill will train you to develop an evenly flowing swing motion, controlled by the large muscles of the body, so when practicing this advice follow these same instructions Anselmo gave to Tiger.
Start from a shoulder-width address position, with your weight balanced on the ball of each foot. But, rather than holding a club hold a small, empty, metal driving range basket. Grasp the left side of the basket with the fingers of your left hand, the right side of the basket with the fingers of your right hand. Next, swing back normally, sort of pushing the basket back away from a target you chose at address, while stretching the muscles of your back and left arm. Next, allow your right wrist to hinge rather early in the swing to promote the desired upright action. Finally, swing the basket toward the target you picked out, letting go with the right hand through impact, so you experience an all-important free release action.
Tiger Woods was fortunate to study under Anselmo in his early years, because the man's expertise stretched beyond the scope of knowing how to teach the golf swing. The department of the game that Anselmo excels in is shot-making, and he certainly had a big impact on Tiger, as evidenced by what Tiger said during an interview he did on The Golf Channel: "It's unbelievable how John Anselmo kept things fun and interesting while changing my swing from flat to upright, and teaching me a new shot practically every time he gave me a lesson on the tee or on the course."
What was so different about Anselmo's approach, and why his lessons played such a key role in what Tiger calls "The Process," is that Anselmo encouraged Tiger to depend on mental imagery to help him more easily execute the shot. This is something Tiger's present coach Hank Haney also believes in, having said this in his book, The Only Golf Lesson You'll Ever Need:
"You'll play much better with one clear swing thought or an overall feeling or picture of what your swing should feel like and look like."
Most golf insiders credit Butch Harmon, Tiger's third professional coach before Hank Haney took command, with revamping Tiger's swing and, indeed, Harmon did help Tiger employ a compact, more controlled action that, when timed right, allowed Tiger to drive the ball down the center of fairways and hit iron shots at the flagstick. However, being the creative chameleon that he is, Tiger showed a desire to improve his big swing further, and that is the story of this book. Harmon is, however, a fine teacher and I would be remiss if I did not mention how he also helped Tiger's learning process in the areas of driving strategy and the short game.
Butch was fortunate to have met and played with Ben Hogan, one of golf's all-time best driving strategists and former two-time winner of the prestigious Masters Tournament, played each April at the demanding Augusta National Golf Club course in Augusta, Georgia. Hogan passed on many strategy tips to Butch, and Butch passed these on to Tiger. But that was not all he passed on to his most successful student.
Butch was the son of 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon, a master around the green, who taught Butch how to handle tough and tricky pitching and chipping situations.
While Butch taught Tiger, he spent a lot of time with him during practice rounds at Augusta National, talking about driving strategy and short-game technique, again based on what he learned from Hogan and his father. This close-up and personal training definitely played a key role in Tiger winning the 1997, 2001, and 2002 Masters championships, and hitting that miraculous chip-in on hole sixteen during the final round of the 2005 Masters, that will go down in history as the "real" winning shot.
Studying at the golf swing schools of Earl Woods, Rudy Duran, John Anselmo, and Butch Harmon, is analogous to a student attending Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Oxford. Nevertheless, it is not only this exceptional education that has allowed Tiger to become professional golf's dominant player, with nine major championships and countless worldwide tournaments to his credit. Tiger's success early on and even today has a lot to do with a very unique learning process, one involving the mental side of golf rather than the physical side. However, the details have essentially been kept hush-hush by Tiger's camp, possibly because there exists a fear that the golfing public may consider the type of training involved "outside the box."
What I learned about Tiger's mental secrets I include here, because they will allow you stay calm, cool, and collected under extreme pressure, hit on-target shots, and emerge a winner in tournaments or matches at your local club.
At age ten, Earl Woods first introduced Tiger to Captain Jay Brunza, a navy clinical psychologist. According to sportswriters Tim Rosaforte and Ray Oakes, a California golf professional and close friend of Earl Woods, "the Doctor" was apparently brought into Tiger's inner circle, called "Team Tiger," to enhance Tiger's mental game and essentially hypnotize Tiger, the young prodigy that even back then wanted most to one day become so good he could beat Jack Nicklaus's record of eighteen major championships. Rosaforte says he witnessed the hypnotism, and, according to Oakes, Earl told Oakes how Tiger's shot-making imagination and prowess had been enhanced after just a couple of sessions with Brunza. At that point, Oakes made an appointment to see Brunza.
The fact that Brunza helped Oakes see only a "white carpet fairway" when getting ready to tee off, then swing and hit that fairway time and time again (instead of what he had often done previously in big competitions — focus on water and trees bordering the short grass, make tense golf swings, and hit off-line shots) is incredible enough. But the record shows that what he helped Tiger accomplish is downright amazing.
Brunza was Tiger's on-course psychological guide and caddy during many junior and amateur events that he won, most notably the 1991, 1992, and 1993 U.S. Junior Amateur and the 1994 and 1995 U.S. Amateur. In all, Brunza "looped" for Tiger during thirty-nine matches. "Together," they won thirty-three.
Because I was more shocked to hear reports about Tiger's mental enhancement under Brunza than learning that Muhammad Ali had been hypnotized when he was winning heavyweight championship bouts, I was curious to talk to Brunza.
I actually spoke to Brunza twice. He was brief and concise. "Tiger is now understanding and applying all the high-level mental game keys that I provided him with for many years, and he's mature enough, too, to comprehend the finer points of putting himself into a zone of intense concentration during a round of golf," said Brunza. His well-chosen words confirmed the stories I had been told. Furthermore, our conversations allowed me to understand another reason why Tiger is better than his peers in being able to stay positive while working on a new swing.
After speaking to Brunza, Donna White, a Florida-based hypnotist who has experienced success helping golfers stay positive as they work through the learning process, explained the essence of how hypnosis works.
The hypnotist tells the subject to close their eyes and focus on the body while breathing slowly. Next, using a trigger, such as "You are getting sleepy," the hypnotist leads the subject into a trance that lets the subject "let go" mentally and physically — to sink into the subconscious and erase all negative thoughts and emotions that had previously hindered their concentration and, if they are golfers, their performance on the course.
Hypnosis is a science you can teach yourself, and it's obvious to me after talking to Brunza that Tiger has learned the science, one way or the other. This process allows Tiger to get rid of mental baggage and seemingly explains why he can take in so much swing advice and easily separate golfing facts from golfing fiction.
Another reason for Tiger's mental fortitude, the ability to stay patient and positive when behind — and to keep plugging away until reigning victorious in so many professional tournaments — is meditation. According to John Anselmo, another one of the original members of Team Tiger, since the time Tiger was a young boy he was taught by his Thai mother, Kultida ("Tida"), the principles of Zen. In fact, Tiger's mother gave him a gold Budda chain and explained to him that meditation was exercise for the mind, before taking him to a Buddhist temple in California, where he learned the art of "letting go" from Zen masters.
Excerpted from Tiger's New Swing by John Andrisani. Copyright © 2005 John Andrisani. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Meet the Author
John Andrisani is the author of The Tiger Woods Way and he has coauthored bestselling golf instructional book with top teachers and tour players. A former golf instructor and senior editor of instruction at Golf Magazine, he contributes to various golf and other popular magazines. He lives in Sarasota, Florida.
Author John Andrisani the former senior editor of instruction at Golf Magazine. A former golf instructor, Andrisani is the author of over twenty-five books, including the bestselling The Tiger Woods Way. He has also written books with golf's top tour players, such as John Daly and Fred Couples, as well as top-ranked teachers, most notably two of Tiger Woods's former instructors, John Anselmo and Butch Harmon.A course record holder and past winner of the World Golf Writers' Championship, Andrisani resides in Gulfport, Florida.
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If you're looking for a guide as to how to build full swing from scratch, look elsewhere. Good points as to how to improve an existing swing, but nothing to help you build a swing from the ground-up as the cover suggests. Many atimes, the author's interpretations of Tiger's swing techniques are difficult to understand. Interesting nonetheless, though.