Does Tiger Woods Need a New Coach?

Perhaps the least surprising golfing news this year came earlier this week when Tiger Woods announced that he had parted ways with his coach, Sean Foley after working with him for the past four years.

 

Since leaving Hank Haney in 2010, Woods has failed to add to his major tally, but did record eight wins in partnership with Foley, although five of those came in his most successful season of late, 2013.

 

Tiger Woods-in-Dubai Emirates Golf Club

 

That one year of success however is generally accepted to be the exception rather than the norm with Woods other three years under Foley characterised by a loss of form, inconsistent hitting (especially with the driver) and injury.

 

“Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him,” said Woods after he announced the split.

“Presently, I do not have a coach and there is no timetable for hiring one.”

Golf analysts and experts are at odds as to whether Foley’s coaching methods and changes to Woods swing have exacerbated Woods recent spate of injury problems, or whether it is Wood’s injury problems that have not allowed him to fully maximise the effects of Foley’s coaching.

 

Certainly, Foley has a proven track record of success. He has helped Justin Rose to major title success while working with Woods and he is also the coach of Hunter Mahan (below), who was the winner of The Barclays tournament just last week.

 

 

Yet it is undeniable that since Foley came to work with Woods and changed some of the basic fundamental of his golf swing, apart from 2013, Woods has suffered greatly with inconsistency. So much so that in some tournaments, he has elected to leave the driver out of the bag, using a 3-wood from the tee.

For a player like Woods, whose power was such a fearsome weapon in an already impressive array of golfing skills, the inability to find the fairway with the longest club in the bag on a regular basis was a real problem.

 

What was truly astonishing was that Woods often not missed fairways by 5, 10 or 15 yards. Often it would be 30 or 40 yards or more off line. During the swing, it was clearly visible that Woods didn’t look comfortable and often that would be followed by a visible snap hook, which would drag the golf ball miles to the left.

 

Rolex-Tiger-Woods

 

Of course, there will be those who argue that Woods’ injuries played their part here, that somehow Woods was compensating for his back problems leading to these issues. Others put it down to Woods club manufacturer not having them set up quite right for the player, others felt it was Foley’s changes that were the cause of the issue.

 

Whatever the issue was, or even if it was a combination of issues, the net effect has been Woods plummeting down the world rankings and perhaps most worryingly for the player, suffering from a seemingly never-ending number of health issues.

 

So much so, that the fact that Woods doesn’t have a coach really isn’t an issue.

What Woods needs at this point is not to find a way to play better, but a way to play more healthily. He needs to take time away from the game completely to sort out whatever the issue is with his back. This is easier said than done, back injuries can be notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat effectively.

 

When Woods has recuperated, he then needs to find the swing that fits him most naturally, rather than working with one that he thinks can make him a better player. It may be time for Woods to take a different approach, rather than hoping his body will adapt to his new swing, he may need to adapt his swing to suit the ability of his body.

 

That may not be a bad thing. At his very best, Woods made the game look effortless, almost as if he wasn’t trying and as such, he seldom seemed troubled by injury.

The effects of ageing not withstanding, maybe Woods needs to go back to the basics of the game, when recovered and just hit the ball in a way that makes him feel comfortable.

At the moment, his body may be the best and wisest golf coach he can listen to at the moment.

 

Images Courtesy of Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan official Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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