During a press conference on Monday, before Hank Haney broke up with Tiger Woods via text message, Woods was asked about his swing problems.
“I talked to Hank [Haney] about some of this stuff and we are still working on it,” Woods said. “Still got a lot of work to do.”
Woods did not go into specifics, and we now know that Haney will not be on the range to help. But what does Woods need to work on? We asked some of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers for their opinions.
“I don’t think that his swing is that far off, said Peter Kostis, who is also an on-course analyst for CBS Sports. “It looks like his swing is far off because he’s not addressing the real issue. I think he needs to make some pre-swing adjustments.”
Kostis said that Tiger really just needs to adjust his grip, posture and alignment. “Once he gets his pre-swing fundamentals a little more organized,” Kostis said, “I think his swing will take care of itself.”
Brian Mogg, a Top 100 Teacher based at Golden Bear Golf Club at Keene’s Point in Windermere, Fla., agrees that Woods’s grip is part of the problem.
“The club has just gotten too far around and behind him,” Mogg said. “If you combine his weak grip and the club being behind him — he just can’t get the face squared up through impact.”
The result is the most common miss Woods has been fighting — tee shots that flare to the right.
Shawn Humphries, a Top 100 Teacher based at Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, Texas, said, “Looking from afar, I think the changes he’s made have been too dramatic in his golf swing for him to play as consistently as he wants to play.”
Humphries likens Woods’s swing to a Formula 1 racecar — a finely tuned machine that shouldn’t be tinkered with.
“If you look at the different swings he’s had when he’s won majors,” Humphries said, “they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Crossed at the top with a closed clubface; steep to laid off with an open clubface; and now he’s using something that is a little more neutral.”
Whom should Woods work with next? Kostis said Tiger should make his selection very carefully.
“There are a lot of coaches who have a system that they like to apply to people; Tiger needs to avoid them,” Kostis said. “Speculation is going to run rampant, but I’m not sure he even needs a new coach.”
He added, “Tiger has won major championships with three different coaches [his father Earl Woods, Butch Harmon and Haney] and four different swings. I don’t think this is the time for swing No. 5.”
Humphries agrees. “I think Tiger’s best coach right now is himself,” he said. “He has learned a ton from these instructors.”
Mogg said that Tiger would likely use the summer to discreetly chat with some of the swing instructors employed by his friends. “I think that he’ll quietly snoop and explore people. There will be some interviews taking place where hypothetic questions will be asked. ‘What would you do if you were given the chance,'” Mogg said.
While Mogg said that he feels Tiger will gravitate to coaches who work with his friends — like Mike Abbott (Pat Perez’s coach) and Sean Foley (Sean O’Hair’s coach) — Tiger will also be wary of stepping on toes.