It’s hard to believe that 19 months ago he had plummeted to #58 in the world golf rankings post scandal. Suddenly the “experts” who were predicting he would split from swing Coach Sean Foley, are once again discussing his chances of passing Nicklaus’ major championship total.
There are a few reasons for Wood’s resurgence. The putter is working better, and his chipping/pitching is returning to the form that made him the world’s most dominant player. He is also driving it longer and straighter than he has in years do to a more refined swing motion and set-up position. So what exactly is Tiger doing differently and how can it help you?
For the answer we turn to Robert Cotter of Instant Golf® who is a golf ball design engineer and swing coach. According to Robert, Tiger’s improved swing consistency begins at address where his much improved golf stance has him in perfect balance from the start of the swing. This leads to a full swing motion that is void of compensations.
Robert took these images of Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he won convincingly (shooting in the mid 60′s on the weekend). Look closely at his feet and legs. Tiger is establishing “ground control”, which is present in all great ball strikers, past and present. Throughout the swing he will exploit the feelings his feet experience from the contact with the ground. This leads to greatly enhanced balance, reproducibility of motion, and centered club face contact.
Robert documented that the best ball strikers he encountered while designing golf balls exhibited excellent ground control. These top players would strike ball after ball with power and consistency, and their start positions were a big reason for their proficiency. The players who were less consistent had more “slop” in their technique starting from the ground up.
So here’s some strategy for helping you Feel the Ground Better at Set-up:
For standard shots with irons, a good rule of thumb is to split your weight 50/50 between both feet. For the driver, most Tour players place 60% of the weight on the trail foot (the right for a RH golfer) as this encourages a slight upsweep through impact which is preferred for driving the ball for max distance.
The best golfers compress the arches of the feet at address which activates the ball and heel of the feet. This makes the feet “come to life”! You can see the compression in Wood’s feet above. That right foot is gripping the ground like a tire tread.
Here’s a helpful image (left) to picture and “feel” in the mind’s eye. In each foot feel a slight forward press into the ball of the foot. This will enable the legs to act like pistons. Note the slightly larger triangle in Robert’s diagram (think 60/40 ball/heel). Wood’s has mastered this in recent months. Before that he was back on his heels and starting from a position of reduced stability, especially with the driver.
Another great player to watch at address is Ernie Els. He is relaxed and balanced at address and settles into the ground like a crouching jaguar. His smooth, powerful swing starts from this stable position and it has served him well for many decades, culminating with his win at the 2012 Open Championship at 42 yrs of age.
The pressure distribution above is a Key Fundamental of a Tour caliber golf swing.
Important:Let’s be very clear though, the weight distribution only begins in the above pressure layout. Once a great golf swing is in motion, it changes dramatically. The great ball strikers know where the weight moves in the swing, high handicap or inconsistent golfers do not. Robert’s watched and heard the top guys and gals at impact. They make other players turn around and watch in awe.
You see, great players like Tiger, Rory, and Justin Rose use what Robert calls “The Key To A Repeating Golf Swing” in their down swings. He discovered The Key while working with top golfers in the golf ball industry. The Key, while simple to learn, does some incredible things in the down swing.
To hit the ball far and straight, a golfer must 1) generate high swing speed, 2) make center club face contact, and 3) control the path of the club head. This results in maximum “ball speed” and correct shot direction, so distances explode and scores drop! The Key governs the down swing and takes care of these 3 factors. It puts your swing on autopilot and makes this game fun!
You learned the correct set-up pressure distribution above (practice that, it really works). The Key also takes care of the foot weight distribution during the rest of the swing. It allows you compress the ball as efficiently as possible with no “power leaks” just like the Pro’s.
In fact, Robert’s discovery of The Key allowed him to take his scores from the 110′s to the 70′s after struggling for years with poor ball striking and a high handicap index.