Thank You, Sir Nick Faldo Re: Tiger Woods (Updated)


Update at Bottom

Nick Faldo’s name always brings back a golf-before-Tiger-Woods memory for me.  I didn’t grow up watching Nicklaus and Greg Norman play golf and win majors, as I came to golf in my 20’s.

Those names were just names that I heard in the evening sports in which I impatiently waited for the hockey or basketball highlights.

But Nick Faldo’s name will always stick in my mind because the first full round of golf I ever watched on TV was the final round of the ’96 Masters.

I had not even yet heard of Tiger Woods at that time (I began to “play” back in the late summer of ’95, a word I’ll use very loosely to define the action of hacking and slicing a ball around the course), but would read an article about him later that summer.

On Masters Saturday, I was flipping through the channels and caught enough of the 3rd round with Norman gaining a big lead (with all the announcers hyping Sunday’s round) to make me tune in the next day.   And I’m glad I did, though I did feel sorry for Greg Norman after that historic collapse.

Moving on, I must thank Nick Faldo once more for being perhaps the highest-profile golfer yet to call for Tiger to change his swing.

In the British publication Telegraph’s online edition, I’ll give you this:

As the game waited anxiously for news of the severity of Tiger Woods’s back injury, Sir Nick Faldo warned the 14-time major champion that he must change his swing to prolong his career, while Rory McIlroy urged his friend to take a break.

He needs more than a break, Rory, but I’m more concerned with the comments of the 6-time major Champion who did make a swing change in his career and who must surely know a thing or two about the golf swing.  A little more:

The Englishman feels the 38-year-old must find a new technique other than that taught to him by Sean Foley, the coach who Woods has been with for four years.

Again, thank you, Sir Nick, for finally stating this as an elder statesman of the game.

Faldo’s words carry weight in the golf world, I imagine, and he’s finally saying what has been obvious to some – that swing has to go…

I will admit to having hated this particular type of swing when I first saw Tiger using it in the ’10 Open Championshipnote – I thought it was the Open, but looking back at my archived postings and the dates, it was in fact the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Fact: I didn’t even know who Sean Foley was at the time, because he wasn’t yet officially coaching Tiger.  I might have read something about him, but the name meant nothing.  It’s not personal.

I actually called it a variation of Stack & Tilt, and Foley did spend part of his career with the S&T crowd, I learned later, so I knew exactly what I was seeing in Tiger’s swing.

In fact, here’s what I wrote back then in a posting on my then-named Smash Golf blog on August 15, 2010:

Tiger Woods – Stack & Tilt?!?!

If this is Tiger Woods‘ new swing mechanics, he might never win another tournament where he has to hit driver off the tee.**

He seems to have gone with some form of the so-called “Stack and Tilt” swing motion, which is the worst kind of swing for a power-hitter to use (or try to use, as Tiger isn’t doing so hot with the driver these days).

The reason for this is that, with the S&T, as you’ll see in the swing sequences, the S&T method is to avoid shifting weight to the right on the back swing, and to stay over the ball. This may work fairly well with the short irons and wedges, as you usually aren’t swinging 100% with these scoring clubs.

You’re also striking down sharply with these clubs, so it’s pretty easy to hit balls fairly accurately and consistently with the S&T.

But the longer the club gets and the more the ball moves forward, the harder it gets to make solid contact consistently because of the lack of weight shift. How do you pound a driver when you haven’t shifted your weight to the right leg on the back swing and then you try to move all your weight to the left foot on the down swing?


You see how wildly Tiger is flailing at the end of the follow-through. He just can’t get a good balance on the left foot swinging through impact using this swing.

It just isn’t going to work, and this swing method isn’t going to work for Tiger, mark my words.

As long as his swing looks like this, he’ll be hitting more than 50% of his second shots out of trouble and rough when he uses the Driver. His accuracy is going to decrease as well with the 3-wood, 5-wood and long irons. Did anyone watching this weekend notice how many shots Tiger fanned with his longer clubs, even from perfect lies and off tees?

Get used to it if Tiger’s going to the Stack and Tilt.

**Updated August 5, 2014: Well, Tiger has won 8 tournaments since his partnership with Foley, but 8 regular Tour events over four years and no majors?  Not to mention, events that he’s won in his sleep over the years – I was wrong, but pretty close to the mark, wouldn’t you say?


Then, on August 23rd 2010, I wrote the following post:

Tiger’s Goin’ Stack – Wow…

When I saw Tiger swinging at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, I couldn’t believe my eyes and I wrote a post that I called Tiger Woods – Stack and Tilt?!?.

Well, my eyes weren’t foolin’ me, there’s an actual whisper going around that he’s going there.

I still can’t believe someone of Tiger’s athletic talent would try this, I’m going to have to see if he really goes down this road next year.

While I don’t believe it, there’s an article I read on Golf Magazine’s website just this evening in the Rumors section;

Don’t write Stack and Tilt’s obit just yet. The swing system non grata, which lost much of its cachet when it failed to bring salvation to the likes of Aaron Baddeley and Mike Weir, might soon be on Tiger Woods’s to-do list. In Monday’s New York Times, Bill Pennington points out that Sean Foley — who has been all but ordained as Tiger’s next swing coach — is a fan of the S&T principles.

Now, I had never heard of Sean Foley before all of this “Tiger’s New Coach” talk started after the split with Hank Haney, and I certainly had no idea that he is a fan of the Stack and Tilt. I gathered from the comments in the original posting that some of my Smash Golf regulars were aware of Foley’s S&T-connection.

Watching Tiger swing with the driver and the other long clubs, it was pretty much obvious what kind of swing it was.

I only have a couple of things to say about all of this;

1. None of Foley’s stable of PGA golfers actually uses the Stack and Tilt, that I’ve seen, so Tiger would be the first to actually do it. I don’t see Sean O’Hair doing the S&T, and I don’t see it in Hunter Mahan’s swing.**

2. Say good-bye to what’s left of Tiger’s left knee.

Other than those two things, I said what I had to say in my previous posting about Tiger doing the Stack and Tilt;

It just isn’t going to work, and this swing method isn’t going to work for Tiger, mark my words.

**Updated August 5, 2014 – I hadn’t watched enough of Sean O’Hair and Hunter Mahan at the time to see the Foley blueprint in their swings but their swings weren’t as left-biased as S&T at the time.  

Or I may just have been flat-out wrong (wouldn’t be the first or the last time), but I didn’t see Tiger as using the same method as them that summer.  O’Hair would leave Foley the next year after several back injury problems, and Hunter Mahan is still with Foley but did suffer a hip/back injury earlier in the season.


First off, I didn’t edit the postings, so apologies if either of them seem harshly worded – I was little more animated in my postings back then compared to now, but I wrote what I wrote.

As I said above, I didn’t know who Sean Foley was when I wrote the posting, but his Stack & Tilt history is plain to see in his swing model.

Another fun Nick Faldo fact: He was the first person I ever heard say anything negative about S&T on TV, back in (I believe) 2007.  I think it was then because I had just looked into this hot new swing fad and had rejected it out of hand, writing about it in my then named Swing Theory Golf blog, when I heard him talk about it on The Golf Channel.

He tried not to be too negative, but wondered aloud how one could hit long iron or Driver with a swing like that.  And this was years before, when Tiger Woods was still winning majors with Hank Haney.  Now that he’s spoken his mind, I wonder, looking back at his first comments on S&T back in ’07, how long he’s been biting his tongue on the Foley-Woods connection.

Turns out Sir Nick was right on the money, though!!


Update:  I’ve gone back and added the original comments to the blog posting from August 18, 2010, for some fun…

6 thoughts on “Thank You, Sir Nick Faldo Re: Tiger Woods (Updated)

  1. Steve

    I think Tiger could be succesful using the stack and tilt if he actually committed to it…committed to being an average length player who’s game is all about control/accuracy. But that is not his mental make-up as a golfer. I would love to see Tiger in an alternate shot format where a Charlie Wie or Tommy Armour III type hits the driver and Tiger hits the second shot from the fairway. The fact that he can shoot under par at Whistling Straits while he is spraying it all over the place is one heck of a testament to his short game. His left leg ‘snap’ is still making me cringe too.

  2. Scott N

    I have to say it because I think it is sort of comical yet unbelievable at the same time, but the summer of 2010 is most likely the closest in gap between Tiger and me I have ever been. Meaning he looks and has reminded me of myself (as a COMPLETE beginner golfer) more than I have ever imagined he ever would.

    Of course I am obviously not talking about Tiger still being able to shoot par on any golf course and also being ranked #1 in world and comparing to me. But he seems to be suffering through what any high handicapper beginner goes through; weekly swing changes, try this-try that, jump to new swing theory thinking IT has the answer to better ballstriking, cringing after a tee shot, second shots most often out of deep rough, yipping 5ft putts, on and on.

    But it only makes sense that Tiger would migrate to this semi stack-tilt pattern as currently the hottest coach *Sean Foley) in world has several players doing very well under him. When tiger let go of Haney it was speculated Sean was next in line as a natural progression and sure enough here we are.

    But I think we will see a new improved Tiger in 2011. Most likely a major win as well. He still had some good rounds this year despite his turmoil. He will shake his cobwebs upstairs eventually AND currently one of the best ballstrikers in accuracy on tour (Mahan) is a Foley protege.

  3. Doug

    In my opinion, Tiger’s biggest concern right now (we’ll see if Sean helps) is his overrotation, timing and sequence. He’s almost overturning…overusing his right shoulder to increase his rotation. When this happens the left arm gets rounded and the club gets layed off at the top . Due to his incredible flexibility he can keep his left arm very straight to the top, however the negative consequence is the bowed left wrist. If you try to keep your left arm as straight as he does all the the way past parallel with a lot of resistance at your core you’ll begin to notice your wrist has to compensate and bend. (I think Butch helped Tiger avoid these moves by having him pick the club up and raising both arms)

    With his over-rotating, during the downswing the body wants to release from the top faster than expected causing him to get stuck. This works if he’s practicing and timing it but obviously difficult if not. Tiger is a natural two-planer, so these changes are arduous. I think Sean Foley has some good ideas and can help, but I agree that full blown Stack and Tilt would flat out ruin his career. If he wants to continue to “rotate” he’ll have to stand a tad bit further from the ball (to leave room for his legs to catch up, as he likes to move toward the target agressively), and get a little bit more vertical with is arms.

    Another issue is his timing and sequence. This may be due to his over-rotation as i mentioned earlier, but it seems like his swing timing is one or two clicks fast, meaning it should take longer for him to swing. Something he has to consider is his weight lifting, which could lead to faster twitch muscles and thus leading to a faster, sometimes shorter swing.

    Of course this is all nitpicking. He’ll find a way to keep winning.

  4. Stuart

    Beginning to regret saying it will never work yet? The driver looks much better now and the irons look about as solid or even solider than 2000. His plane has gotten away from the lower, more rounded action that Haney was teaching him and back towards a more vertical and while maintaining the rotation.

    Plus this video was taken 7 days after he began working with Foley, so maybe a little patience is in order?

    1. EP

      All I can say is that Tiger is an incredible athlete. I can’t believe he can even pull off his new swing. Any amateur with that much weight on their front foot on the backswing is liable to hurt something or totally lose their balance. I caught the end of play at the Chevron and it looked like he was about to fall over on his approach shot to the first playoff hole.

      His plane is more vertical, yes, which is an improvement. He’s also fanning his front foot out more, no doubt to save his knee. But his weight distribution on the backswing is so awkward and looks flat out uncomfortable, and it seems obvious to me that putting that much weight on your front leg while rotating your body around it is going to put tremendous pressure on that knee. I’d love to see his driving distance statistics as well. He won’t be bombing it off the tee any longer without a good weight transfer. He’s still placing the ball too close to his body and standing up through impact in order to give his hands room to come through, which is going to kill his knee (again) and back. His best shots were with 3/4 swings, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

      Tiger’s never had a great swing, and even so, Hank Haney ruined most of the better parts of it. He’s a good ball-striker from sheer work ethic, athleticism, and will. He’s another example of instructors basing their teachings on results instead of proper mechanics.

    2. D Watts Post author

      What I said in response to Stuart back then:

      I haven’t seen anything that says it is “working.”

      As far as his irons looking more solid than 2000… I hope you’re kidding. 2000 was his best ball-striking year ever. What tournaments have you been watching?

      I watched his Sunday round at the Chevron, when he was drop-throwing his clubs after ever other shot.

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