I am by no means a certified PGA teaching professional, nor am I a trained clinical psychologist.
I am simply an avid observer of the game, and have been for quite some time.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve sat and watched Tiger Woods’ golf game slowly move into the eye of a perfect storm.
A terrible ball-striking weekend at Augusta.
The worst tournament of his professional career at the Quail Hollow Championship.
And a final round withdraw at the Players Championship due to a neck injury.
Woods’ golf game, and his life for that matter, is in shambles and there’s no one to blame but himself.
As an avid observer of the game, this would be my advice to Woods as he attempts to repair his life and his golf game:
1) Get your personal life in order
This does not mean that he needs to fix his marriage, go for another stint in rehab or put a team of psychologists on retainer; it just means that he needs to create some semblance of order in his personal life.
If his marriage is un-repairable, ok, move forward with the separation and get acclimated to your new life.
If there’s a chance that the marriage can be saved, ok, stay away from the golf course and focus all of your attention on fixing your marriage.
One way or another, he needs to get his personal life sorted out in order to allow his mind at least some room to focus on his golf game.
2) Clean House
As much as Woods says that his inner circle knew nothing about his transgressions, they were still present during this time in his life.
Whether they knew or not, a fresh start would certainly be in order for Woods.
Woods needs to completely clean house, and that means a new agent, manager, PR team, caddie, etc.
3) Get healthy
First it was the ACL he tore while running in late 2007, then it was the stress fracture he sustained while rehabbing from knee surgery prior to the 2008 U.S. Open, then it was the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in early 2009 while rehabbing from reconstructive ACL surgery, and now it’s a neck injury he more than likely sustained while overworking his body in preparation for the 2010 Masters.
This guy needs to let his body heal, and then he needs to prepare to return to golf in a manner that will not constantly put him at risk of further injury.
4) Fire Hank Haney
Now, I don’t by any means think Hank Haney is a bad coach or a bad guy. But, over the past two years it has become glaringly obvious that Woods’ golf swing is in shambles and he has been winning despite his swing and not because of it.
Since initially changing his swing back in late 2002, Woods has transformed himself from a golfer into a swinger (no pun intended).
What that means is that prior to 2002, Woods used to go out and play golf. He was concerned about hitting a draw off the tee, or hitting a high fade from 175 yards into a back right pin location.
Fast forward eight years and when standing over the golf ball Woods now appears more concerned with the mechanics of his swing than the actual execution of the golf shot.
Woods has taken something – the golf swing – that used to come as naturally to him as walking, and has changed it into something that now appears about as natural as a kangaroo bounding through downtown Manhattan.
As it pertains to golf, my advice to Tiger Woods would be as follows: Tiger, you are by far the best golfer on the face of the planet, go out and play golf. Don’t worry about the angle of your elbow on the takeaway, or whether the clubface is .005 degrees closed at the top of your backswing. Simply use your God-given, otherworldly talent to play a game that has come naturally to you since you were two years old.
It is very rare for a natural to come along in any sport, and ever rarer for a natural to come along in a sport like golf where 99.9 percent of players are required to practice until their hands bleed just to compete on the PGA Tour, let alone win one out of every three tournaments they enter.
Woods has essentially gone from a mechanic that used to take one look at a car engine, immediately identify the problem and fix it in a matter of minutes, to a mechanic that spends six hour reading the manufacturer’s manual in order to identify a simple oil leak.
Moving forward without any coach at all might be a good move for Woods. But if he does hire another coach, the proper course of action might be for that coach to take away all of Woods’ training aids, video equipment, etc. and simply drive the golf cart while Woods plays 36-holes per day focusing on his score and executing golf shots rather than the minute mechanical aspects of his golf swing.
Woods has spoken several times over the past few years about having to play golf with a band aid swing. Well, so far Woods has made a band aid comeback since the events of that fateful night last November.
It has become quite obvious that Woods will need to make a number of changes both on and off the golf course in order to right the ship.
Whether or not he will make these changes is the billion dollar question.
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