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Bobby Clampett: Why Tiger and I Could Never Find a Golf Coach

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News of Tiger’s departure from his most recent coach, Chris Como, should come as no surprise to anyone. Tiger’s growing list now includes the so-called world’s best instructors: Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, Sean Foley and now Chris Como. It’s also worth mentioning that Tiger has spoken to so many more and gotten their feedback over the years. After the “interview” process, he chose not to hire many of them.

I’ve gotten to know many coaches that Tiger has hired and interviewed over the years. They all share a common passion for teaching and genuinely wanted to help Tiger. But why would Tiger end up firing all of them? Why were they not able to provide him what he needed? What is it that he needs?

Watching Tiger go through this process brought back memories for me, and not good ones. After winning back-to-back Northern California Junior Points Annual totals, winning back-to-back Fred Haskins Trophies (the Heisman Trophy of College Golf), being the No. 1 ranked Amateur in the world and having back-to-back years on the PGA Tour where I finished in the top-20 money winners, I got talked into trying some new coaches. I was told it was the only way to become the No. 1 player in the world.

Ben Doyle had been my coach for 10 years and I felt my game had plateaued with him. Never wanting to look back and regret that I didn’t at least try a new coach, I went for it. Like Tiger, I would talk to my Tour friends whom I trusted and get their opinions on who the best coaches were. Of course, they all advocated their coach at the time. That’s part of the ethics of being on Tour and having a coach. As a player, you want their success, too, just like they wants yours. Like Tiger, I dabbled with them for a while before I committed. Some I committed to longer than others, just like Tiger. 

Like Tiger, I got differing opinions from different coaches. The one thing they all had in common is that they wanted me to make some pretty significant style changes, some that I just wasn’t capable of making. The changes were all different and some even conflicted with one another. One coach wanted my swing plane steeper in the backswing; the other wanted it flatter. One coach wanted a slight cupping of the left wrist at the top of the backswing; the other wanted the wrist to be flat. One coach wanted my hands low at address; the other wanted my hands to be higher. One coach wanted me to have a shorter backswing with a smaller hip turn; the other just wanted to change my setup posture. Tiger has been experiencing the very same things. 

Not once did I ask the one question I should have asked. It’s probably the biggest regret I have in my 15+ years on the PGA Tour, and it could have changed the outcome of my career. I sincerely doubt any of the coaches could have given me a satisfactory answer, but I would have really enjoyed hearing the answer. The question is, “How is this style change you want me to make going to affect my impact?”

Impact is the only thing that really matters in golf. It is 100 percent responsible for sending the ball where it goes. Where the ball goes is 100 percent due to the conditions created at impact. Like I used to joke with my caddie Cliff Robinson on the Champions Tour, “The ball goes where I hit it every time!” Sure, things you alter in your swing can affect your impact, but the real key to understanding golf lies in answering the question, “How?”

I didn’t mention my other coaches, because I don’t believe in throwing them under the bus. They genuinely wanted to help me and were gracious with their time, but they were all looking in the wrong direction. I believe Tiger is experiencing the very same thing. Tiger was the No. 1 ranked player in the world with each of his three coaches, and he was also No. 1 without a coach. One of his coaches, who had been one of my coaches for a while, confided in me that he actually taught Tiger differently that he did me and others. He let Tiger determine the direction the coaching would go. I found that very interesting and certainly a departure from how he coached me. I think that was wise on his part and kept Tiger playing well. But did it improve his game? Tiger wouldn’t have left if he had kept improving. Tiger likes playing his best.

What I think Tiger is beginning to discover is what I discovered many years ago that led to my current impact-based instruction. What else explains why Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Eamonn Darcy, Corey Pavin, Bernhard Langer, Jim Thorpe, Fuzzy Zoeller, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and countless others have had such great careers with such unorthodox and even in some cases, ugly swings. It certainly isn’t their swing style. The common ingredient of all these great champions is impact. 

Tiger has proven this. He’s been No. 1 in the world with countless different styles of swings. In my opinion, Tiger doesn’t need a coach. He knows more than they do anyway. At least he doesn’t need a coach that’s going to try to improve his style of swing. To improve his golf, Tiger needs to stick with a style that’s comfortable. He needs to feel he can repeat his swing in competition. Then, he then needs to fine tune his impact, consistency and cause/affect understanding.

If Tiger can keep it simple, it will allow for the brilliant artist that exists to come out and paint the pallet of great shots. The world waits with anticipation.

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For students wanting to experience how improving their impact will improve their games, Bobby suggests coming to his next Signature Golf School, creating your own private school for your own group, and/or signing up for a private lesson. Simply go to: www.impactzonegolf.com or call 239-236-5536. For those instructors who want to learn "Impact-Based®" instruction, Bobby Clampett now has a fully developed Advanced Level One online training fully supported by the PGA and LPGA with continuing education credits. For those who complete, Bobby and Impact Zone Golf are developing a Certification Program and ultimately a masters Program. Impact Zone Golf is ready to build an army of good golf instructors and rid the epidemic of frustrated golfers victimized by "style-based" instruction methods. Bobby Clampett is a well-known PGA Tour Winner and Longtime CBS Golf Broadcaster, but perhaps he will be best known for his discovery of Impact-Based® Instruction. His two golf academies are in Naples, Florida: Indoor Performance Studio (1040 Collier Center Way, Unit 14, Naples, FL 34110) and at the Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. Bobby is the first golf instructor in history to be a PGA Tour winner and earn PGA Master Professional in Teaching and Coaching. He and his team of Impact-Based® Academy Trained instructors offer year-round Golf Schools, Private Lessons, Women’s Programs, Annual and Seasonal Coaching Programs, Competitive Junior Training and much more. He now offers Instructor Training and Certification approved by the PGA and LPGA. Visit: https://impactzonegolf.com or call: 239-236-5536.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Steve Wozeniak

    Jan 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Load of GARBAGE…….Clampett could not sustain a high level of play because of one thing…..The Golfing Machine, your not alone bud, this took EVERYONE out that got into it……

    Nice excuse though.

    Steve Wozeniak PGA

    • Stephen Finley

      Jan 18, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      Not saying TGM is for everybody, or that it’s not possible it eventually led to too much complication for Clampett, but the guy was one of the best players in the world for several years, and he says it was a big factor in how he got there. Who else on this comment list has been on that level? You?

    • Tyler

      Jan 29, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      100% agree.

  2. Mikele

    Jan 6, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Bobby has a nice gig over at TIburon. He gets all their tourists golfers and lots of kids and teens during the off season down here. But he is right all that matters is what happens at the moment of impact. Who really cares what is going on before that if you can train yourself to get impact right? That’s Clampett’s entire theory and it’s not wrong.

    Every time we play Tiburon gold and we look over at his area from the first tee we do wonder how much he is able to soak out of those people. They pay a pretty penny, especially the in season resort people.

  3. DS Sportsgolf

    Jan 4, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Impact is largely predetermined by certain body, lever positions and angles which put the club path and club face into the best possible areas, as CG, weight shift and pressure is moved into the lead side. This occurs before impact when the golf club draws maximum CG force of around 3G’s – gravity is the most powerful force in the universe – roughly just out of transition, when the golf club first points into the ground on the downswing, and between 18 and 22 inches before impact. You can’t physically manipulate the golf club against those forces…… top players try to correct in that area, that’s where the “saved it” action comes in. It’s not just about impact…..impact is the result or action determined by previous actions with variables …… just my basic opinion.

  4. Brennan Woods

    Jan 4, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    He needs The Golfing Machine, Bobby!

  5. Jim

    Jan 4, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Tiger just needs his confidence, bravado and unapologetic self back. Guy has more mojo than anyone on tour, ever.

  6. pelzy

    Jan 4, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    This is right on the money but too many read who wrote it before they read what was written. This is the only way to explain how so many great champions had unorthodox swing motions yet were very successful. The intention to improve a player’s swing must start with impact deficiencies and expand from there.

    I am also a guy who thinks he should have never left Butch and I firmly believe Butch would agree with Clampett’s impact first approach.

  7. John Krug

    Jan 4, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    The most important thing about a swing is that it be mechanically sound and not harm the body. This requires the classic golf swing, namely, a flared left foot, a lifting of the left ankle and a hip turn. Any attempt to twist the spine is a recipe for physical injury, e.g. Tiger and numerous other pros. Tiger’s body has been destroyed by his instructors.

  8. Doug

    Jan 4, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Great attempt at promoting more of your nonsense instruction!

    • Dana Booth

      Jan 4, 2018 at 4:39 pm

      How is Bobby’s instruction nonsense, Doug?

  9. Tyler

    Jan 4, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I truly hate to be negative but this article is just like Clampett’s books; 90% bragging about his personal accomplishments and 10% self-promotion. Bobby, you have one PGA tour win so don’t ever compare yourself to any Hall of Famer again. Hell, I’ve won a few scrambles in my day. I remember when I bought the Impact Zone after it came out. I waited patiently for slow shipping and was extremely excited to see the book arrive at my doorstep. Upon reading the book I had a bigger let down than three putting for par. I thought how is knowing all about Bobby Clampett’s acheivements going to help my game??? It didn’t! Nice Golfwrx profile, by the way. I am sure all PGA Touring professionals list every single amateur event they won.

  10. steve2

    Jan 4, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Unfortunately, Tiger seems to have lost his swing mojo some time ago by losing confidence in his golf swing knowledge. Perhaps he’s gone too cerebral and can’t get the answers from current teachers. So where should he look?
    I believe he must look within himself to find what he is searching for… a consistent swing that delivers the clubhead to the ball at impact.
    How can Tiger use the K.I.S.S. approach to reawaken his inner artistry? Perhaps he’s lost even that artistry. Perhaps he’s concentrated too much on athleticism, i.e. building up his body in the gym.
    Yes, athleticism is the foundation for artistry…. just like technique is the foundation for musical, dancing, painting artistry. But, excessive dependence on athletic technique can destroy artistry. It’s a tricky balance.

  11. Bryan

    Jan 3, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    It’s the coaches fault that I plateaued and didn’t win more. Maybe there is a correlation between changing coaches like underwear and being really really into yourself.

  12. SK

    Jan 3, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    “To improve his golf, Tiger needs to stick with a style that’s comfortable. He needs to feel he can repeat his swing in competition. Then, he then needs to fine tune his impact, consistency and cause/effect understanding.

    If Tiger can keep it simple, it will allow for the brilliant artist that exists to come out and paint the pallet of great shots.”
    ———————————

    Those last sentences of this fine article just about says it all!!
    Unfortunately, Tiger seems to have lost his swing mojo some time ago by losing confidence in his golf swing knowledge. Perhaps he’s gone too cerebral and can’t get the answers from current teachers.
    So where should he look? Now he must look within himself to find what he is searching for… a consistent swing that delivers the clubhead to the ball at impact.
    How can Tiger use the K.I.S.S. approach to reawaken his inner artistry? Perhaps he’s lost even that artistry. Perhaps he’s concentrated too much on athleticism, i.e. building up his body in the gym.
    Yes, athleticism is the foundation for artistry…. just like technique is the foundation for musical, dancing, painting artistry. But, excessive dependence on athletic technique can destroy artistry. It’s a tricky balance.
    What Tiger needs is a mentor to guide him in his search for his lost artistry. Only I can do it and tell him where he’s gone wrong in his compulsive athleticism. Tiger, if you’re reading …??!!! 😎

  13. Skip

    Jan 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Shameless plug for your “current impact-based instruction.” lol, geez took you long enough to discover that impact is all that matters.

    And I’m gonna disagree, I’m pretty sure Tiger Woods, already knows what you’re referring to. He doesn’t need to discover anything.

  14. David

    Jan 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    I agree with your assessment regarding style vs. impact. Bradley Hughes at Golfaus teaches the 4:30 path and he uses many of the all time greats as examples. Many ways to swing the club in the backswing. As long as the golfer gets to that 4:30 path.

  15. Mike

    Jan 3, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    First off, Tiger didn’t fire Hank Haney. Haney quit after the scandal. Also I feel there is so much more scrutiny on Tiger that he gets criticized for things other don’t. For example, he’s had 4 coaches over a 20 year career. Is that even equal to the PGA Tour average? He’s had 3 caddies which I’m certain is way less than the average. 2 agents. Also probably less than average over 20 years. yet he gets hammered in the press for firing so many people. He also got to #1 with all 3 coaches that had a healthy Tiger to work with and had his best winning percentage with Hank (for all those never should have fired Butch people). Bottom line, Tiger knows what he needs. Everyone should stop armchair quarterbacking.

  16. Philip

    Jan 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Tiger didn’t fire all his coaches … and yet you write like you know everything about him intimately, but nice article about you and how Tiger may be lucky enough to follow your advice

  17. farmer

    Jan 3, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    It’s all so simple: great impact makes for great golf. This little infomercial completely ignores the factors that lead to a great impact position. That is a different and considerably more complicated process. BC was a great college player, never a particularly good pro, and never got away from the TGM nonsense. Total bust of an article.

  18. RG

    Jan 3, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Great article Bobby, and right on point. Tiger was longoff the tee and with the irons, but his greatness came because he could get up and down out of a garbage can and in his prime he was the best putter ever, period. When I watched Tiger deteriorate I watched a man who was trying to do things that just aren’t necessary. There is no reason to hit all nine shots with perfect mastery, you just need a couple that are really good. Tiger used to have beautiful rhythm and tempo to his swing, then it disappeared. His confidence was supreme in his prime. I stood next to him at the Tavistock and watched him hit a pitch shot (that he chunked) and he looked more nervous than I get. If he stays within himself and finds the back of the ball with the smoothness he used to have, it’s game on.

  19. juststeve

    Jan 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Another Clampett article that’s really all about Clampett.

  20. mwf0001

    Jan 3, 2018 at 11:51 am

    What Tiger needs to do is find consistency, especially off the tee. Why was he so good for so many years in the early 2000s? It’s because he had consistency off the tee. He used to have a go to shot with the stinger, whether with the 2 iron or the 3 wood. He almost never missed a fairway with those two clubs. That instilled confidence in the rest of his game and took the pressure off of the rest of his game, especially the driver. Why he ever got away from hitting those shots is beyond me. He was already the best iron player in the game, and he was already the best putter in the game. The only thing missing was consistency off the tee. In my opinion, in order for Tiger to get back to being a force on the PGA Tour, he needs to rekindle his flame with the stinger. Find fairways and let the rest of your game speak for itself.

    Sincerely,
    A Guy That Thinks He Never Should Have Left Butch

  21. Dino

    Jan 3, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I respect Bobby’s opinion in this matter (ie: of going through a variety of swing coaches and the propensity that they have to make significant swing changes).

    Yet, when I read the article, and knowing Bobby’s relationship in advocating for “Impact Zone Golf”, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that this was really an “infomercial” of sorts. It seems to be continuing in the same vein of seeking out another coach to help you get to number one or in every amateur golfer – to be the best that you can.

    The only thing different is that he is advocating for “Impact golf” rather than “swing golf”. I do agree though that there are more ways to swing a club … after all, no two people swing the club exactly alike.

  22. Brian

    Jan 3, 2018 at 11:23 am

    If only someone would come out with a book concerned with impact.

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How often should you actually get “Up-and-Down” based on your handicap?

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‘Up and Downs’ have long been the accepted measure of skill in the short game. The chart below shows average performance in this area for the PGA Tour and an array of handicap levels. How do you fit in?

A few points of definition: The above refers to short game shots around the green, other than from the sand. [Stay tuned: sand shots will be my next article.] I consider the short game to be all shots from within 50 yards of the hole. This distance was a topic of debate 30 years ago when I was developing my golf analysis program. I was fortunate to be working with Golf Digest Golf Schools and some of the top instructors were good enough to embrace the better form of game analysis that I was creating. In particular, I owe a great deal to Chuck Cook, Jack Lumpkin and Hank Johnson. Their help and encouragement in my early stages gave me a much needed boost of momentum. Little did we know that what I then called “Strokes Lost and Saved” would ultimately become the accepted standard of analysis on the PGA Tour — now know as “Strokes Gained.” Anyway, we agreed that 50 yards was the right distance range for the short game for two reasons:

  1. It represented the short game for virtually every handicap level, men and women.
  2. It was a short enough distance that it didn’t need to be sliced even further.

That said, I do NOT believe that “Up and Downs” are an appropriate or accurate measure of short game skill for two reasons:

  1. It represents the combination of two skills: Short Game and Putting.
  2. It ignores the ERRORS or shots that actually miss the green.

In my 30+ years of studying performance at all skill levels, I have found that it is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of bad shots (errors) that do more to influence a player’s scoring level than do all the good shots. Accordingly, I built the ability to capture data on the common errors in the game into ShotByShot.com.

The true measure of a player’s short game skill is their Strokes Gained in that facet. BUT, that is simply a number — a positive number is good and a negative number, not so much. But how then to best display the skill that is associated with the Strokes Gained number? I believe the combination of three stats to be the correct way to display short game skill:

  • Average putting distance, when the green is successfully hit.
  • Percent shots hit to within 5 feet of the hole
  • Percent errors, or shots that miss the putting surface.

Where does your game fall in these two important categories?

Note, that the two lines cross at about a 16 handicap. That is actually a better than average golfer yet for every Chip/Pitch shot that they successfully get to within 5 feet of the hole, they are also chunking or sculling one and missing the green altogether. Work to dramatically reduce the errors and that 16 will drop to 12 or 13?

You might ask: How can the PGA Tour make more errors than the scratch golfer? Good question! I have two explanations:

  1. They really are that good! Regardless of the relative difficulty of the shot, Tour players will go for it. They have the confidence that when they miss they will get the next up and down. At the same time, the amateur that has reached the lofty level of Scratch has generally done so thru rigorous consistency and the avoidance of errors. At the low handicap levels, a bogey can be acceptable but a mistake that results in a double is NOT.
  2. The tour Shotlink data considers the fringe of the green to be a miss whereas I recommend that players count the fringe as a green hit and a putting opportunity. Your long game has been efficient enough to get there and should be rewarded with the GIR. At the same time, to count the shot from the fringe as a short game shot will unfairly reward your short game skill for what was actually a putt.

That reminds me again of my very early days when Chuck Cook said to me: “Pete, Tour players don’t make errors in the short game!”  See Chuck, I was right, they do! For a Complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to: ShotByShot.com.

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