Tiger Woods’ Downfall – Chasing Voodoo Biomechanics

foley-tigerNote: Originally Posted September 22, 2015

I made mention yesterday of how Tiger Woods’ major winning ways basically came to a screeching halt when he left Hank Haney (although he was already in some trouble with his shifting address bias with HH) and embraced what I call the “Voodoo Biomechanics” of another coach.

Essentially, this is how I define something as “voodoo” anything – if you can’t find it anywhere but in the place it’s being sold, then there’s a strong chance it is voodoo.

Tiger Woods was cruising on his path to matching or surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ total of 18 majors, and while the scandal leading to his divorce may have had a significant impact on his psyche, you can see the impact of voodoo swing theory in his injury history.

tiger waste management

Before that, let me explain why the mention of “Myelin” so aggravates me, and so makes me laugh at the same time.

It is carnival barking of the highest order, and from the Wall Street Journal online:

When I asked him to explain Rose’s rise over three years from 67th to 19th to fifth in one measure of long-iron excellence.  Foley gave me a one-word answer: “Myelin.”

Excuse me?

“That’s the insulation that wraps around neural brain circuits and helps them fire faster when presented with certain stimuli,” he said.

Laying down more myelin, over time, helps secure new skills; that’s the value of those reps Woods always talks about. ” ‘Swing change’ is really a stupid term, because it’s actually just gradual evolution in encoded brain patterns,” Foley said.

Uh, yeah…right…

In other words, when you practice something over and over, like shooting free throws or a particular bunker shot, you will build what we’ve always called “muscle memory,” allowing you to replicate the actions over and over as you’ve grooved those actions in your thousands or repetitions, as per Wikipedia:

Muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.

When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.

Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard, typing in a PIN, playing a musical instrument, or martial arts.

So, Sean Foley could easily have said, “Well, he’s practicing a lot, and it’s paying off…”

But instead, he acted as if he’d discovered a new scientific feature in sports training, but all he’d discovered was how to gild his particular lily.

And Tiger Woods fell for that bunk hook, line and sinker.


What you would really want to examine if looking at particular swing coach is how his swing model performs and how mechanically-correct it is.

And this is what happened when Tiger Woods left his right-biased swing models with Butch Harmon and Hank Haney and tied his horse to Foley’s wagon as per the Washington Times online, and remember that everything listed below came after Woods’ split with Haney:

He cited a bulging disk and sore neck in withdrawing from the final round of the 2010 Players Championship.

He injured his left Achilles’ tendon and sprained the MCL in his left knee a year later, causing him to miss two months — including two majors.

Between 2013 and 2014, Woodssuffered a left elbow strain, a stiff neck and aching back.

He withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year, and two weeks later, underwent microdiscetomy surgery to repair a pinched nerve.

That’s the same procedure he had last week, for the same area.

Now, I will tell you why I am laying that bulging disk at Foley’s feet as well –  because that occurred a couple of weeks after Hank Haney had left the Woods camp claiming he was being “frozen out” by Woods, and in May 2010, Foley was already denying he was taking Tiger on, even before the Haney-Woods split.

From Canadian Golfer:

The rumor du jour was that Canadian swing coach Sean Foley was about to ink a deal with Tiger Woods, a rumor my sources said had significant legs.

The talk was that Tiger Woods will be letting longtime swing coach Hank Haney go and will announce that Foley, the Canadian swing coach who only a few years ago was teaching juniors, would take over the role.

I have a source very close to Foley that confirmed a deal was in the works and being looked at by IMG, who represent Tiger.

The source says Woods began talking to Foley last fall at the Presidents Cup and the two have been in regular contact since.

I would probably not be the only person to reasonably conclude that the bulging disk was the first injury Tiger experienced working with Foley, who has this very mechanically-incorrect view of how to swing a golf club at high speed:

Foley has taught Woods to stay more centered over the ball and increase weight on the left side through the downswing.

And you wonder how Tiger broke his back and collected that trophy room full of injuries under Foley?



That also explains why Woods’ bias was shifting from right towards the center even before he left Haney…

And that, my friends, tells you all you need to know about voodoo biomechanics.

And I guarantee you, when golf catches up to all of the other sports in biomechanics expertise (I mean, if people are buying centered-stance and left-biased stance positions in a right-handed power swing, you’re only going to find these people in golf, which puts it far behind the other sports in logic and common sense, let alone actual expertise), Tiger Woods and Sean Foley will be a case study in how sports history was derailed in mid-course by voodoo biomechanics and an all-too gullible audience.

In other words, you know that bus that nearly took robbed golf history of Ben Hogan?

Let’s just say… Tiger’s bus had “Myelin” stenciled on the windscreen.

The difference?

Ben Hogan came back…


4 thoughts on “Tiger Woods’ Downfall – Chasing Voodoo Biomechanics

    1. D Watts Post author

      I think it’s a little different from your speculation, Laser, and that’s because you’ve never tried to swing from Foley’s positions, whereas I have, and only for research purposes.

      How Tiger swallowed all of that jazz for over four years, I’ll never understand.

      I think at times, he played through the pain when he was doing well – you feel less pain when you’re ahead in the race than when bringing up the rear.

      When you know you aren’t going to win, then it’s actually a wise thing to shut things down. Tiger did the most damage to himself while winning a U.S. Open – had he been T45th or had barely made the cut, he would have withdrawn.

      Has he embellished at times? I’m sure he has. But to “fake” an injury? He had so many real ones, I don’t think he had to manufacture them!

      1. Jess LEUNG

        Do you think Tiger Woods still have a chance for breaking Jack’s record if, just saying, change his swing to be more MCS (no more torso twist, more hip turn and floating heel), regulate his intensity of exercise and actually trying to get back into tournament golf as soon as possible?

        1. D Watts Post author

          Jess – not a chance. He will be lucky to play competitive golf at all in the future after 3 spinal surgeries. My opinion doesn’t mean anything, but I would bet that he’s done already, and postponing his retirement announcement to keep his endorsement contracts valid.


          Like I said, my opinion means nothing. But I guess we’ll see…

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