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Scottsdale, AZ (Sports Network) --
I think I can speak for golf fans everywhere that it was good to see Tiger back in action at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Although I am sure the 150 or so golfers who have playing status on the PGA Tour this year probably weren't that ecstatic. No matter who you are though, you have to agree that Tiger is good for the game, more appropriately...great, and it just didn't seem right without him around, prowling the fairways, analyzing his approach to the green from points where mere mortals require plane tickets..
I know I was excited to get down to Tucson and see what changes have been made to his golf swing. I have had the opportunity to watch Tiger play and practice on several occasions and,believe me, it is a thing of meticulous beauty. Tiger's approach to the game has always been fascinating. Combined with his willingness to make aggressive changes in order to keep his swing working for the long term, I couldn't wait to see the post-surgery Tiger.
As I watched him go through his warm-up, I couldn't help but think of a few things that would help all golfers improve their scores. First of all, Tiger gets to the range plenty early to warm up and prepare his game for the coming round. I see way too many amateurs lacing up their shoes on the first tee, as the rest of their foursome is already headed down the fairway. But this is only the beginning of what you can learn from Tiger.
Tiger started his warm-up with some short wedges that were flying somewhere in the 65-75 yard range. He hit approximately ten of these shots before taking a full swing with his wedge. He followed that with around 12 to 15 full swing wedges, taking his time and going through his routine on each swing, just as though he was hitting each shot in a tournament. He proceeded to repeat this process with an 8 iron, 5 and 3 iron. Finally, he hit a couple of fairway woods and, eventually, got to the fun stuff, the driver!
Back-to-back 68s over the weekend prove Tiger is getting back into top form.
To my surprise, Tiger only hit a couple of drivers. After he finished the driver he began to work back down his clubs to the wedge, repeating exactly what he did as he worked up to the driver. After he hit a few wedges, he went back to the 5 iron and began hitting full swing 5 irons that went exactly 100 yards. You could tell he was working on the feel of his swing. He hit approximately tem to fifteen of these 5 irons, and then back to the driver.
A note of caution...stop making notes or planning to print this out and take it with you next time you head out. This is Tiger Woods and his warm-up pattern is precise, measured and preparatory for a tournament. Just learn from it.
Continuing, this time he started getting more aggressive, as I could tell he was simulating his tee shot for the first tee. After about 5 or 6 drives, he was off to the putting green for a couple of last rolls before tee time.
So, as a weekend golfer, take 2 things from this. Warm up slowly, by starting with short clubs and working your way up to the driver. Too many times I see the amateur golfer take a few rips with the driver and take off to the first tee. Second, work on your swing changes with full swings, but swing slower to feel the correct position. Your fast swing will undoubtedly be the exact same as what you have always done. Take a slow complete swing, such as hitting 5 iron to the 100 yard flag.
The last thing I noticed about Tiger has to do with his new swing. He has significantly quieted down his lower body, specifically in the forward swing. This has resulted, in my opinion, in much straighter shots. If you want to straighten your shots, work on quieting the lower body during your swing, especially if you block your shots right or hook your shots left. This can happen as a result of improper leg action during the swing.
If Tiger gets straighter, this can only mean another dominant season and, possibly, the real grand slam. Quiet down your lower body and maybe you can create your own grand slam at your club this season!
The forward swing is created with shoulders and the hips rotating together through impact (see photo). It is very important to move the lower body through impact, just as you would in the full swing, to keep the wrists from breaking or coming up too quickly in the follow-through.
Try to hold your finish position until the ball stops rolling to evaluate your shot. The club head should remain beneath the hands, with your spine still over the left leg creating a balanced finish on the left side. Once the ball has stopped next to your target, repeat the process.
When you are ready to practice some full shots, concentrate on feeling the spine more forward at impact creating a downward motion with the club head. Follow this with a balanced finish on the left side by rotating the lower body through with the upper body. This will make your iron shots much more crisp while perfecting those crucial short chips we all need to save par.
Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161 * www.troonnorthgolf.com
10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf? * www.troongolf.com