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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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Impact Zone Golf: 1040 Collier Center Way, Unit 14, Naples, FL 34110 Call: 239-236-5536 Visit: www.impactzonegolf.com Career Objective To make a difference in growing the game of golf by helping people of all ages enjoy the game through instruction and coaching, which enables them to consistently better understand and improve their game. Instruction Personal Achievements: • In 2013, became the only person in history to be both a PGA Tour Winner and a PGA Master Professional in Teaching and Coaching • PGA and PGA Tour Lifetime member • Author of ‘The Impact Zone," a best selling and ground-breaking golf instruction book • Founder of Impact-Based® Instruction and Instructor Training Curriculum Golfing Achievements: • Only golfer to ever win two Western Golf Association titles in the same yea: Western Junior Championship and Western Amateur Championship (1978) • In 1978, #1 ranked amateur in the United States by both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest • 1979: youngest to ever finish in the top 24 in the Masters. Record still stands today, (18 years old) • 1982 U.S. Open, Pebble Beach, 3rd Place • Set NCAA record, won 12 collegiate golf tournaments in three years. Only two-time Fred Haskins Award winner in NCAA history Professional Golfing Achievements: • Member of the California and Utah Golf Hall of Fame • In 1982, became the Youngest PGA Tour Professional in history to earn over $500,000 in Official Prize Money • Winner 1982 Southern Open • Member of the 1982 U.S. Professional World Cup Team • Member and Individual Champion in the 1981 U.S./Japan All-Star Match • Lifetime member of the PGA Tour, earning $1.4 million and compiling one win and 33 top-10 finishes (396 events) • Total PGA Tour Cuts Made: 232 • Earned nearly $1.5 Million in PGA Champion’s Tour earnings (86/87 cuts made) and had 7 top-5 finishes 2010-2014 Television Broadcasting Experience: • CBS Sports (1991 to Present) • Turner Sports (1991 through 2007) • Member of two Emmy-Award-winning teams – both at CBS Sports and Turner Sports • Have commentated over 300 golf telecasts (mostly PGA Tour events for CBS Sports) including 26 Masters, 27 PGA Championships, 16 PGA Grand Slams of Golf, 6 President’s Cups and 5 British Opens Education and Certifications: • Robert Louis Stevenson School, Pebble Beach, 1977 • Brigham Young University, AA in French, 1980 Other notable facts about Bobby: • Enthusiastic pilot with over 5,700 hours of flight time. Owns a Piper Malibu • Owner of Clampett Cellars – 8 Fine Crafted Estate wines from both Monterey County and Paso Robles • Highly involved throughout his career in many charitable ventures • Speaks French Fluently • Presented over 1,000 clinics/hosted golf outings and played in over 1000 Pro-Ams in his career

24 Comments

24 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?

  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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It’s been 10 years since the NCCA Legislation began allowing assistant golf coaches to perform on-course coaching in college events. Today, 94 percent of the top-100 men’s golf teams have assistant coaches, and the coaching pool is stronger than ever, with individuals such as Jean Paul Hebert (Texas), Jake Amos (South Carolina), Ryan Jamieson (Florida), Robert Duck (Florida State), Donnie Darr (Oklahoma State), John Mills (Kent State), Garrett Runion (LSU), Zach Barlow (Illinois), Bob Heinz (Duke), and 2017 Assistant Coach of the Year from Baylor, Ryan Blagg. The list includes a guy with 20+ PGA Tour experience (Bob Heinz), several former college standouts and some National Championship wins (Jean Paul Hebert – 1, Runion – 2, Amos – 2).

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Practice Facility at the University of Central Florida

Practice Facility at the University of Central Florida

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Coach Bowen Sargent of UVA, along with former players Denny McCarthy and Derek Bard at the US Open

Coach Bowen Sargent of UVA, along with former players Denny McCarthy and Derek Bard at the U.S. Open

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Ben Pellicanni of Limpscomb University helping to read a putt

Ben Pellicanni of Limpscomb University helping to read a putt

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Golf facility at the University of Central Arkansas

Golf facility at the University of Central Arkansas

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