Tiger Woods missed the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship, finishing at 6-over par for the tournament, but it was an argument between analysts about his golf swing that had everyone’s attention.
After first round play, Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo debated whether Woods is hurt because of his new swing or his new swing is different because he is hurt.
Chamblee argued that Woods has too much “forward shaft lean” at impact, causing a steep angle of attack that often results in low pulls and high blocks. To shallow out his swing, Chamblee said that Woods must “swing left” and “lean backwards” with the driver as he approaches the ball. This, he says, “zeroes out” his path elevates his launch angle, but has caused damage to his back. Chamblee then got into the numbers to support his claims, saying that Tiger’s launch angle this year is 12 degrees, 13 degrees and 12.86 degrees, depending on which part of the video you watch.
Frank Nobilo, on the other hand, made the argument that Woods’ swing can’t be blamed for his poor play because the golfer isn’t healthy. Chamblee argued, however, that he analyzed Thursday, Friday and Saturday rounds from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where Woods claimed he was “100 percent pain free” and took him at his word.
Golf Digest sent this Tweet following the first round, illustrating Woods’ swing changes from 2000 until now.
Nobilo further supported his point by noting that Woods’ swing speed was 120 mph last year, and that Woods’ forward shaft lean really isn’t as drastic as Chamblee claims. Chamblee responded to that by claiming Woods’ swing speed was 117 mph in 2013, then cut to a video showing fairly significant forward shaft lean.
The argument got heated, and Chamblee ended up betting Nobilo “everything on the set… everything you own!” that he was correct. So who won the argument?
Well, Woods’ numbers, according to radar statistics on PGATour.com, show that he is averaging 115.63 mph club head speed with his driver in 2014 with a launch angle of 11.86 degrees. In 2013 he averaged 118.3 mph with a launch angle of 11.2 degrees. In 2008, Woods averaged 124.63 mph with a launch angle of 9.04 degrees. So while Chamblee and Nobilo’s stats were in the ballpark, neither were spot on with the facts.
This photo of Tiger Woods was taken on the range at the 2014 Quicken Loans National.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What can we really learn from Tiger’s Trackman results? Read below for their insights and reaction.
Tiger Woods won 14 majors before he started using Trackman. He has won none since using Trackman. Does that mean Trackman is bad or doesn’t help? NOT AT ALL. I use Flightscope, which records the same things Trackman does and I LOVE it. But radar measurements are numbers the teacher should use to get the player the proper feel and motion. I personally DO NOT share my FlightScope numbers with my students, but I DO go over video with them. Radar quantifies impact and video gives the player some idea of HOW to get to those numbers; that’s how I use the two tools.
As for the debate, the answer is probably somewhere between the two. I agree that Woods is hurting. How much? None of us have any idea. Tiger is very secretive about his health and his life; athletic warriors never show their hand. As a golf instructor, I have an idea that Tiger’s somewhat violent swing through the ball over the years could have contributed to some of his issues. I’m not a doctor, so I really don’t know. That part of the discussion is not for golf pros. Why doesn’t Golf Channel bring his doctor on to discuss the issue and how it may or may not affect his motion? But the part of the debate that Chamblee seemed so self-assured about (as seems to be often) is questionable.
Forward shaft lean DOES NOT equate to steepness in and of itself. I can lean the shaft forward and be quite shallow, or let the club pass the hands and be quite steep. Secondly, “backing up” does not LOFT the ball in and of itself. I can back up (which adds axis tilt) and still keep the hands forward, particularly if the RIGHT ARM is extended through impact, which I see in Tiger a bit more now in Tiger than before.
The PGA Tour does not release attack angle or dynamic loft numbers that I know of. If anyone knows them, please feel free to share, but the point is this: If Tiger has more forward shaft lean, that would only be revealed in dynamic loft, NOT attack angle or launch. The other thing we have to consider is simply age. Tiger is a fairly old 38 in competitive years. He has paid a serious price for his dynamics, but of course without that powerful motion we would not be having this discussion in the first place. So some of his speed issues might very well be injury and age, but he still has plenty of speed to play and win at the highest level.
I have looked over a lot of old video compared to the new swing. Now, he is injured and much less dynamic through the ball. And he is 38 years old. So he needs to be honest with himself about this and develop a motion that is compatible this his current skill set, not the one he used to have. I might suggest less concern with “zeroing out” his path and simply let the club swing right, release it a bit earlier and play a high draw. He simply can’t swing left as well as when he was healthier. Most times he sets up left he HITS it left. To me that indicates less ability to turn through the ball, which holds the face off a bit for the fade he’s trying to hit. Double crosses are simply the body not turning through faster than the arms. And the other, perhaps more obvious sign of less dynamics through impact is the occasional FAT shot he hits. That’s a shot rarely seen at the highest level because those players are so aggressive through the ball. Tiger is not healthy right now. So let’s work with a swing requiring less turn through the ball. At least for now. Technology is only as good as the teacher using it. How he directs the player to “feel” the motion to make the numbers work is critical.
Who has Frank or Brandel worked with on tour? Or at a club?
Tiger’s problem is the teacher and the student’s hyper awareness of the analysis of the numbers, not the Trackman machine itself! I’m sure his health isn’t helping either.
Golfers and teachers must use it correctly or it can become a detriment, just like video or any other technology. The teacher’s job is to insulate the player from all the stuff that they don’t need to hear/see/know with technology. Some teachers don’t understand this fact.
As a Trackman University Partner/Master User, I can tell you that Trackman is a GREAT tool, but you still can’t forget that you should use it to teach the correct “feel” to the player. BUT the student must use these “feels” to “play” the game! It’s not about making perfect swings; it’s about playing and scoring-PERIOD.
The focus should be taken off Trackman and placed solidly on the shoulders of the teachers using them. Some know how to “use” the machine and it’s awesome benefits while others don’t. It’s not the technologies fault for Tigers struggles.