What I Noticed About Tiger Woods’ Swing

I could swear we’ve been here before 3 or 4 times, but O.K., let’s do it again…

Everyone has by now seen, I’m sure, the Instagram swing Tiger Woods posted on social media yesterday, and as most people have noticed, not much has changed for the better.

Albert Einstein has been quoted (and I say “has been” because it’s not really clear who first said this) as saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…”

I can see one thing that has changed, and that is TW’s back swing is a good deal shorter than it used to be – it’s interesting that the shot we saw is a down-the-line angle, which is useful, but I’d really like to see how much shoulder turn was in that swing, because it doesn’t like a full one.

Of course, that’s what I would also expect, but courtesy of jh32, let’s take a look at T-Dub’s Instagram post:

View this post on Instagram

Smooth iron shots

A post shared by Tiger Woods (@tigerwoods) on

I don’t know why it was taken in 240 fps speed, but if you’re interested in a little faster sequence, here’s a gif. I whipped up showing it in 120 fps or about 4X slowed down, instead of 8X:

So, here’s what has changed – I see a little more hip turn in the back swing, as evidenced by the straightening of the right leg and the tiny space between the two knees just as he reaches the top.

Also changed – the shorter back swing, as I’ve already mentioned, but that’s because he’s protecting his lower back (four surgeries make you a little leery of twisting down there, I imagine), so he can only go back as far as the hip turn will let him.

Now, what hasn’t changed is that he’s still got the full plant with the leading foot on the back swing, which makes it about 2/3 to 3/4 of what a full pivot back, if he were letting that heel come up to allow the hips to keep turning past his top position, and the big head dip and “jump up” from the top to impact.

You can tell he’s fully planted because 1. You can see it and 2. That big head dip is indicative of the “harpoon drop” that many Modern Golf Swing practitioners have due to having to build up speed coming down, without the benefit of the natural leverage you get with a full hip turn and a simple transitioning of pressure to the leading foot (as fully discussed in the “E = MCS” video).

The head drop is severe – I mean, it’s a half-swing! – and ends at the “3 O’Clock” position, about where I have TW in the 3rd frame above, and if you’re sharp-eyed, you can see that his impact position in the 4th frame has a little higher head than the 3rd, so he’s still dipping and popping back up through impact.

Because it’s not a particular hard swing, I don’t see the above action causing any harm, but it’s not like TW’s going to be able to play on the PGA Tour swinging that easy, so he’s going to have to ramp things up, which is where the problems will begin – how to swing harder and faster with that planted heel, without twisting the lower back to get a fuller shoulder turn?

There is the part that will stump him, and either leave him hitting it very short, or going back to the poisoned well where I’m betting he goes.

Looking below, you’ll see that you can swing at 120+ mph impact speed and have no “harpoon drop” of the head on the transition from the top to the “3 O’Clock” position if you’ve created the natural leverage that comes with a full hip turn:

The secret to leveraging the golf swing, of course, is in using the hips and legs to pivot, and it’s something that Tiger apparently still hasn’t figured out, so I’m not hopeful he ever will.

He has one more chance, as I see it, because the next back injury after a spinal fusion process is likely to be catastrophic, and if not, surely the end of the road for competitive golf, at any rate.

So, looking at his top position below here:

I don’t know what in the world is so hard to fathom that if you let the leading heel separate at this point, you’ll get the full shoulder turn without any lower back twisting, and for a right-dominant swinger like TW, you would barely notice it, it would be so minimal – but it would be enough to allow a full pivot, as I have shown earlier in the year:

That little separation in my leading heel from the ground, folks, is the thing Tiger has broken his back trying to not do, and for the life of me, I don’t get this insistence on nailing the feet to the ground on the back swing, but being able to live with the flopping and flying leading foot at impact.

So, if this is how Tiger is currently swinging, I can predict one of two things:

  1. He’ll never make it back to competitive play or
  2. If he does come back, he will either pack it in quickly due to having lost so much power and distance or he’ll re-injure that back trying to recoup it by again twisting the lower back.

Let’s see how it goes.

But that clip didn’t inspire any confidence for me.

Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?

Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency? 

Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?

If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing:

“E = MCS” The Swing Video

11 thoughts on “What I Noticed About Tiger Woods’ Swing

  1. targettom

    I can tell you from personal experience that when I started to lift my lead heel it was a revelation; it immediately felt more powerful. I don’t understand the reluctance to lift the heel either, just more snake oil the MGS coaches are selling

    1. D Watts Post author

      What I don’t get is that they insist on keeping it down “for stability,” and then they all have flying, flopping and twisting leading feet through impact.

      So, stability of the leading foot is absolutely paramount on the back swing, but none required on the most important phase of the swing, which is when you’re actually making contact with the ball?

      Do I have that right?


  2. Chief Cowpie

    Besides the diminished athleticism (no longer looks like an NFL linebacker although maybe a field goal kicker in the George Blanda mode) this fellow has had quite a run with addictive opiates and sleeping pills and doubt the touch around the greens is there.

    If he ever makes a legitimate tournament top 10 again, one of the great all time comebacks. If I was him, I would focus on rural 9 hole courses and try to win a club championship.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I don’t have the stalker’s mentality – if I did, I might be camped out near Jupiter Fla. in the hopes I might encounter this fellow and try to whisper into his ear, “Classic Golf Swing…Jack Nicklaus…check it out…”

      I don’t understand it. They all said TW was a great student of the game of golf in his youth, and yet he never considered that the way they swung back then was perhaps the way to do it?

      How can you be a science student and never have heard of the Theory of Relativity? Nicklaus was saying before TW was even born that the modern swing was bogus.

      Even after four back surgeries, the latest one a fusion process, and still swinging with planted heel?

      I give up.

      And TW will never pass the man whose majors record was tacked to his wall as a lad… because of the way he swung…and still swings…

      1. Mike Divot

        This is the damage done to the game by the swing gurus. (As opposed to “golf” gurus like Harvey Penick and Percy Boomer.)

        They dragged a lot of people into their orbit, mostly insignificant golfers like myself, but their reach even extended to touring pros, and ultimately, the guy who should have been GOAT.

        The whole sport suffers and the cautionary tale of TW distils the tragedy into one player.

        One day it will be taught to young golfers like the emperors new clothes, or the boy who cried wolf.

        From a young age Tiger was spouting off about wanting to “own” his swing…. doesn’t that scream playing “golf swing” and not “golf”?

        The poor guy doesn’t get it, never got it, and never will get it because his whole golf worldview is around bogus concepts like “Hogan owned his swing” and that there is a “perfect” swing, and that your swing can be “tinkered with” like guys in their driveway on a Sunday changing carburetors or gearboxes in their muscle cars..

        It makes it all the more remarkable that he was such a great player of “golf”.

        Like being a great middle distance runner despite carrying a backpack full of rocks.

        1. D Watts Post author

          The whole sport suffers and the cautionary tale of TW distills the tragedy into one player… The poor guy doesn’t get it, never got it, and never will get it…

          Couldn’t have said it better myself, MD.

  3. targettom

    the latest TW video has been “analyzed” at GolfWRX. Unanimous praise for the Tiger dip and planted feet. Boy, people are ignorant. Same swing that got him ___ (how many??) surgeries for various parts. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

    1. D Watts Post author

      That’s 4 surgeries, Tom…and counting…but I agree with you that it would be hilarious if not for the tragic circumstances behind the whole Modern Golf Swing farce.

      And then, just as I found myself keying the last word of the above paragraph, I was reminded of the famous Karl Marx quote:

      History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

      That about sums up any effort to return to playing golf with a so-called Modern swing action after requiring back surgery because of the way one swings, wouldn’t you say?

    1. D Watts Post author

      I’ve written several pieces on his injuries and surgeries, this being the latest one, and I believe the Golf Digest piece I referenced in writing it counts 4 left knee surgeries.

      So, with the back and knee – 8 Is Enough?

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