Who should be Tiger Woods' next swing coach? We asked our Anonymous Pro for the inside scoop on the best candidates for the job.
Any number of teachers could get Tiger Woods back on track, teachers whom you've never heard of toiling away at innumerable clubs across this country, but the fact is that most of them just aren't on Woods' radar. Here are the few who are and how well I think they'd work with the former — and perhaps future — World No. 1.
Mike Adams has some 30 years under his belt with players of every level and has a very thorough knowledge of the swing. Brandel Chamblee was touting him on the day the Woods/Sean Foley split was announced, and, as Chamblee said, Adams had done some wonderful work on the accommodations one must make in the swing depending on body type. I worked with him years ago and was impressed with his respect for the contributions of such teachers as Percy Boomer, Harvey Penick and Manuel de la Torre, among others. Woods already “sees” Adams as he teaches at Woods' club, Medalist Golf Club in South Florida. Adams would take great pains to know what Woods was capable of, given his injuries and age, and do everything he could to get Woods physically and technically ready to continue on in his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus.
Among Brian Mogg’s students is Y.E. Yang, who stunned Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship and is the only man to steal a 54-hole lead away from Woods in a major. Having been a very good player himself, Mogg has a practical knowledge of how to play the game, but he seems to give too much weight to modern theories. Like most teachers these days, Mogg is very technical, and Woods needs someone to offset his overly technical tendencies.
Claude Harmon III has the best sources in golf on speed dial in his father Butch and uncles Billy and Craig. I doubt Woods would ever work with anyone with the last name Harmon for fear that someone would think it was akin to admitting he had made a mistake (which he did) in leaving Butch for Hank Haney in 2004, but if he did and if Claude was savvy enough to reach out to his uncles then Woods would be in good “hands.”
Chuck Cook taught Payne Stewart, whose swing has disappeared from golf as today’s players try to resist with the lower body on the backswing and swing left with the upper body on the through-swing. If Woods swung like Stewart, his career would last 10 more years.
Grant Waite was the player that Woods beat with that gaudy swipe from the fairway bunker over water to the 18th green at the 2000 Canadian Open that you have seen a thousand times. Waite was known to have a helluva swing, but he was always tinkering with his technique. That tinkering has probably given him a great knowledge of all the moves from takeaway to finish, but Woods doesn’t need anyone who thinks the swing is more important than the shot, and so he doesn't need Waite.
Rick Smith is an underrated teacher in the sense that Tour pros and many of their teachers think that one has to completely change a swing to make a difference. Because his players’ swings seldom change, Smith is a target for criticism, which is really just jealously because Smith is one of the good guys in golf who genuinely wants to help a player for all the right reasons, which is to say he wants the player to get better more than he wants the fame for making the player better. Smith would make Woods better.
Cameron McCormick has done great work with Jordan Spieth. I love how Spieth plays golf, and I suspect Cameron is one of the many teaching pros at clubs all across this country who could simplify the swing for Woods, which is what he needs way more than time in the gym.
Butch Harmon is — next to Arnold Palmer — golf’s greatest living legacy. He embodies everything that is great about golf’s history. In his head is a veritable Library of Congress for golfers that he can distill down to a sentence or two to make anyone better. His work with Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler over the past year might be more impressive than what he did with Woods from the mid-1990s to 2004. He could do the same for Woods in 2015, but Woods is too stubborn to make the call.
David Leadbetter changed the face of teaching — or should I say changed the homes of teachers — because his influence has made teachers rich. Harvey Penick used to charge $5 for a lesson, but now Butch Harmon gets $15,000 thanks to Leadbetter raising the profile of the profession through his work with Nick Faldo and Nick Price, among so many others. Watching Leadbetter’s students now though, one gets the sense that his ever-reaching mind has jumped the shark, so to speak, as his players are forever contorting their bodies, rehearsing swings and playing a sort of panicked golf. Leadbetter is the last person Woods needs to see.
Much maligned because he changed the swing that won majors by wide margins and because aesthetically it didn't mesh with popular conceptions, Hank Haney made Woods the most consistent winner in the history of professional golf. Tiger would break Nicklaus’ records if he went back to Haney, but that won't happen…so it won't happen.
Brandel Chamblee sounds like he knows a lot about the golf swing and a Tiger/Brandel pairing would make for one helluva show. Secretly I would love to see if Chamblee could teach as well as he talks. Not sure if it would help Woods, but it would be great TV.