Lee Trevino: Tiger Woods' Coach Called Me for Chipping Advice
DALLAS -- Among the many professional golfers who have offered to help Tiger Woods with his recent woes is Texas golf legend and World Golf Hall of Fame member Lee Trevino. While he has not heard from Woods lately, Trevino did say he had received a recent call from Woods’ new swing consultant and fellow Texan Chris Como.
Speaking at a luncheon Tuesday in his Dallas hometown, Trevino said he was surprised to get a call earlier this year from Como, who works at Gleneagles Country Club, near where Trevino lives.
“I was in the Best Buy parking lot in Palm Springs this February and my cell phone rang and it was Chris,” Trevino said. “He wanted to know about chipping and how you teach it.”
While he didn’t say what advice he offered the new coach, Trevino did say Woods’ problems were bigger than just one issue.
“He’s worked on the chipping and putting and irons, but he forgot about hitting the driver,” Trevino said. “When I was playing well it didn’t matter how narrow the fairways were, I could put it on the sidewalk if I needed to.”
Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs on What Lee Trevino Could Teach Tiger:
The fact that Chris Como reached out to Lee Trevino is no surprise. He is a very smart guy and would have no hesitation to ask someone he respects for his or her input. Additionally, he would never let his ego get in the way of helping a client; in this respect Chris isn't your average Tour Instructor.
With that said, how Trevino could help Tiger is a bit of a conundrum. From a mental standpoint I can't think of a better voice to help Tiger gain his swagger back than Trevino. Very few golfers of any era played with a bigger chip on their shoulder than Trevino, except for maybe Tiger or Ben Hogan in their primes.
Trevino was all about the result and couldn't care less about how it looked or what anyone else thought about him. He loved nothing more than taking down Jack Nicklaus at the height of Nicklaus’ powers. That "junkyard dog" mentality is exactly what Tiger needs to compete at the highest level.
But the conundrum comes from the technical advice Trevino would offer Tiger on chipping. Growing up in Texas, Trevino learned very quickly that the ball must be struck before the ground when hitting shots from firm ground around the greens. To achieve this, the handle must be well forward of the clubhead at impact. This technique creates two specific issues: First, the leading edge of the club engages with the ground, not the bounce. Tiger was already struggling with getting the leading edge too involved earlier this year in Phoenix and San Diego, which led to his unprecedented struggles.
Second, the ball comes out lower and hotter with Trevino’s technique, just the opposite of what is needed to execute the treacherous shots around the greens at Augusta National. While Trevino used this style with great success at the British Open, it never served him well at the Masters. The rub is that the technical aspects of the chipping motion that created Tiger's problems are very similar to what Trevino used for his success. In other words, they go together like blue jeans and Augusta National.
When you look at the release patterns of Tiger and Trevino hitting chip shots in their primes you will see some stark differences. Trevino believed the left wrist remained flat throughout the stroke, keeping a straight line between the left arm and clubshaft. When you look at Tiger, his left wrist and left arm were much softer and he allowed the clubhead to pass through impact and into the finish. Trevino's technique created a more descending blow with the leading edge digging into the turf. Conversely, Tiger was able to utilize the bounce of the club to create higher and softer pitch shots that were more effective when hitting into greens as firm and fast as Augusta National.
Look at the leading edge of Trevino's wedge vs. Tiger's in the photos above. Tiger has skipped the bounce off a tight lie and let his left wrist bend, while Trevino has struck the ground with the leading edge and his left wrist remains flat.
The exact specifics of what Trevino told Como are a mystery. How much of their conversation Chris relayed to Tiger is also unknown. What isn't in question is the genius of Trevino and the intelligence of Chris Como. How this all shakes out in Georgia will be great theater. All eyes, including the piercing ones belonging to the Merry Mex, will be watching.
Tiger in his prime: Swagger + using the bounce = unstoppable