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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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Opinion & Analysis

Top 5 wedges of all time

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Wedges. They are the “trusted old friends” in our golf bags. They inspire confidence inside of 100 yards and help us get back on track when we hit a wayward approach.

There was a time not too long ago when a bunker was considered a true hazard, but over the last 80 years, as agronomy has evolved on the same trajectory as club an ball technology, wedges have changed a great deal along the way—from the first modern prototype wedge built by Gene Sarazen to clubs featuring various plating and coatings to increase spin and performance. There are a lot of wedge designs that have stood the test of time; their sole grinds, profiles from address, and performance bring back memories of great hole outs and recovery shots.

With so many variations of wedges in the history of golf (and so much parity), this is my top five list (in no particular order) of the most iconic wedges in golf history.

Original Gene Sarazen Wedge

An early Gene Sarazen wedge. (Photo: USGA)

Gene is famous for a lot of things: the career grand slam, the longest endorsement deal in professional sports history (75 years as a Wilson ambassador), the “shot heard around the world”, and as mentioned earlier—the creation of the modern sand wedge. Although not credited with the invention of the original  “sand wedge” he 100 percent created the modern wedge with a steel shaft and higher bounce. A creation that developed from soldering mass to the sole and flange of what would be our modern-day pitching wedge. Born from the idea of a plane wing, thanks to a trip taken with Howard Hughes, we can all thank Mr. Sarazen for the help with the short shots around the green.

Wilson R90

The next evolution of the original Sarazen Design, the Wilson R90 was the very first mass-marketed sand wedge. Its design characteristics can still be seen in the profile of some modern wedges. Although many might not be as familiar with the R90, you would almost certainly recognize the shape, since it was very often copied by other manufacturers, in their wedge lines.

The R90 features a very rounded profile, high amount of offset, and a great deal of bounce in the middle of the sole, with very little camber. Although not as versatile as modern wedges because of the reduced curve from heel to toe, the R90 is still a force to be reckoned with in the sand.

Cleveland 588

You know a name and design are classic when a company chooses to use the original notation more than 30 years after its initial release. The 588 was introduced as Cleveland’s fifth wedge design and came to market in 1988—which is how it got its name. Wedges were never the same after.

The brainchild of Roger Cleveland, the 588 was made from 8620 carbon steel—which patinad over time. Not unlike the Wilson before it, the 588 had a very traditional rounded shape with a higher toe and round leading edge. The other part of the design that created such versatility was the V-Sole (No, not the same as the Current Srixon), that offers a lot more heel relief to lower the leading edge as the face was opened up—this was the birth of the modern wedge grind.

Titleist Vokey Spin Milled

The wedge that launched the Vokey brand into the stratosphere. Spin-milled faces changed the way golfers look at face technology in their scoring clubs. From a humble club builder to a wedge guru, Bob Vokey has been around golf and the short game for a long time. The crazy thing about the Bob Vokey story is that it all started with one question: “who wants to lead the wedge team?” That was all it took to get him from shaping Titleist woods to working with the world’s best players to create high-performance short game tools.

Honorable mentions for design goes to the first 200 and 400 series wedge, which caught golfers’ eyes with their teardrop shape—much like the Cleveland 588 before it.

Ping Eye 2 Plus

What can you say? The unique wedge design that other OEMs continue to draw inspiration from it 30 years after its original conception. The Eye 2+ wedge was spawned from what is undoubtedly the most popular iron design of all time, which went through many iterations during its 10 years on the market—a lifecycle that is completely unheard of in today’s world of modern equipment.

A pre-worn sole, huge amount of heel and toe radius, and a face that screams “you can’t miss,” the true beauty comes from the way the hosel transitions into the head, which makes the club one of the most versatile of all time.

Check out my video below for more on why this wedge was so great.

Honorable mention: The Alien wedge

To this day, the Alien wedge is the number-one-selling single golf club of all time! Although I’m sure there aren’t a lot of people willing to admit to owning one, it did help a lot of golfer by simplifying the short game, especially bunker shots.

Its huge profile looked unorthodox, but by golly did it ever work! Designed to be played straight face and essentially slammed into the sand to help elevate the ball, the club did what it set out to do: get you out of the sand on the first try. You could say that it was inspired by the original Hogan “Sure-Out,” but along the way it has also inspired others to take up the baton in helping the regular high-handicap golfer get out of the sand—I’m looking at you XE1.

That’s my list, WRXers. What would you add? Let me know in the comments!

 

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The 19th Hole: Meet the world’s most expensive putter and the man behind it

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Host Michael Williams talks with Steve Sacks of Sacks Parente Golf about the idea and implementation of their revolutionary Series 39 blade putter. Also features PGA Professional Brian Sleeman of Santa Lucia Preserve (CA).

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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A day at the CP Women’s Open

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It’s another beautiful summer day in August. Just like any other pro-am at a professional tour event, amateurs are nervously warming up on the driving range and on the putting green next to their pros. As they make their way to the opening tees, they pose for their pictures, hear their names called, and watch their marque player stripe one down the fairway. But instead of walking up 50 yards to the “am tees,” they get to tee it up from where the pros play—because this is different: this is the LPGA Tour!

I’m just going to get right to it, if you haven’t been to an LPGA Tour event you NEED to GO! I’ve been to a lot of golf events as both a spectator and as media member, and I can say an LPGA Tour event is probably the most fun you can have watching professional golf.

The CP Women’s Open is one of the biggest non-majors in women’s golf. 96 of the top 100 players in the world are in the field, and attendance numbers for this stop on the schedule are some of the highest on tour. The 2019 edition it is being held at exclusive Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario, which is about an hour north of downtown Toronto and designed by noted Canadian architect Doug Carrick. The defending Champion is none other than 21-year-old Canadian phenom Brooke Henderson, who won in emotional fashion last year.

From a fan’s perspective, there are some notable differences at an LPGA Tour event, and as a true “golf fan,” not just men’s golf fan, there are some big parts of the experience that I believe everyone can enjoy:

  • Access: It is certainly a refreshing and laidback vibe around the golf course. It’s easy to find great vantage points around the range and practice facility to watch the players go through their routines—a popular watching spot. Smaller infrastructure doesn’t mean a smaller footprint, and there is still a lot to see, plus with few large multi-story grandstands around some of the finishing holes, getting up close to watch shots is easier for everyone.
  • Relatability: This is a big one, and something I think most golfers don’t consider when they choose to watch professional golf. Just like with the men’s game there are obviously outliers when it comes to distance on the LPGA Tour but average distances are more in line with better club players than club players are to PGA Tour Pros. The game is less about power and more about placement. Watching players hit hybrids as accurately as wedges is amazing to watch. Every player from a scratch to a higher handicap can learn a great deal from watching the throwback style of actually hitting fairways and greens vs. modern bomb and gouge.
  • Crowds: (I don’t believe this is just a “Canadian Thing”) It was refreshing to spend an entire day on the course and never hear a “mashed potatoes” or “get in the hole” yelled on the tee of a par 5. The LPGA Tour offers an extremely family-friendly atmosphere, with a lot more young kids, especially young girls out to watch their idols play. This for me is a huge takeaway. So much of professional sports is focused on the men, and with that you often see crowds reflect that. As a father to a young daughter, if she decides to play golf, I love the fact that she can watch people like her play the game at a high level.

There is a lot of talk about the difference between men’s and women’s professional sports, but as far as “the product” goes, I believe that LPGA Tour offers one of the best in professional sports, including value. With a great forecast, a great course, and essentially every top player in the field, this week’s CP Women’s Open is destined to be another great event. If you get the chance to attend this or any LPGA Tour event, I can’t encourage you enough to go!

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