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Clark: Tiger’s “late release” is holding him back



[youtube id=”cgK7nqqs4e4″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

After removing himself from Ryder Cup consideration last week, Tiger Woods announced earlier this week that he would take “a month or two” break from the golf course to rest his ailing back. That means we probably won’t see Tiger tee it up again in competition until his World Challenge at at Isleworth in December.

While time without Tiger is always a bad thing for golf fans (who doesn’t want to watch one of the greatest players of all time compete as much as possible), I really hope that this hiatus becomes a turning point in what has been a noticeable decline in his skills. In 2013, he won five PGA Tour events, but in 2014 his best finish in a full-field event was T25 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship!

Woods lets the media know very little about his health, declining even to connect his back surgery in late March to back injuries in August at the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA championships, but what I do know is that the swing he has attempted to groove with his driver is significantly different than the one he used in his glory days, particularly in one fundamental area as you’ll see in the video above.

If you have specific questions about Woods’ swing, please leave them in the comments section below, and as always, if you’d like me to look at your golf swing, feel free to post swing videos to my Facebook page.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Dennis now teaches at Bobby Clampett's Impact Zone Golf Indoor Performance Center in Naples, FL. .



  1. Evan

    Aug 29, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    low hanging fruit… why must Tiger’s swing be analyzed his entire career. I’d say he’s still playing pretty well apart from injury.

    Now on to something constructive and worthwhile, what happened to David Duval and his swing. There is a guy who needs help on the golf course. #1 in the world and a major champion in the Tiger era who basically fell of the map in 2 years time. You want something worth analyzing? That’s David Duval IMO!

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 2, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Ok. Send me a DD video and I’ll do the analysis. Good?

  2. Greg Hunter

    Aug 27, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    very good analysis. I like what Butch Harmon said. He’s the greatest player to play to date. Record yourself and work on it with your own video. Go back to a one plane swing, slow the tempo down a bit, ie Hogan and go win some more tournaments. Maybe watch some video of Ernie Els?

  3. Randy

    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Tiger’s stance now is narrower than earlier in his career. What effect, if any, do you think that might have on his driver swing? Was it a change made during his work with Foley, to support/correlate with other swing changes? Is it injury related?

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      I believe that the narrower stance was a part of the more stacked backswing. I do not know this for sure but it seems to be in line with the whole package.

    • Al Czervik

      Aug 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Tigers stance is part of a stack and tilt or center pivot swing style. The theory is the closer you can get your setup into a neutral joint alignment the easier the swing forces are supposed to be on joints, knees, and back. To narrow of a stance not enough stability and a stance wider than neutral joint alignment like Tigers 2000 swing the more dynamic weight shift and stress imparted to the knees and lower back. The knees are forced to take as much as 4 times the body weight from swing stress and to wide of a stance locks the hip joints stressing the lower back so the neutral joint alignment stance is designed to reduce as much stress in the body as possible. I don’t know whether that’s right or wrong but that’s the theory as far as I can remember.

      • Randy

        Aug 27, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        That all makes sense, as does Dennis’s reply re S&T. Thanks.

      • Dennis Clark

        Aug 28, 2014 at 8:16 pm

        Thx for that Al. Not being a kinesiology expert, it certainly makes sense to me. Less stress is always better. I do know that golf has been played for a long time with weight going to the right side on the backswing. On the other hand we’ve had bad backs fir a long time 🙂

        • Al Czervik

          Aug 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm

          That’s a common misconception people have had with stack and tilt. Most people think in a center pivot swing or S&T swing that the weight is forward and is increased in the backswing. In Mike and Andy’s newer video release S&T 2.0 they use trackman for ball flight and measure how the weight is moved. What I found interesting was that in the top players the weight moves in the direction of the club in the takeaway but by the top of the swing there is more weight on the forward foot than there was at address. In Grant Waites case he was 55/45 at address when the club was parallel to the ground in the takeaway he is 50/50. From there the weight moves forward again and at the top of the backswing Grant is 67/33. In the downswing when Grants left arm is at the 9oclock position his weight is 70/30. Each S&T pro has this dynamic movement but the numbers are different for each person. I noticed that the more forward the weight at address the larger the shift number was at the start of the takeaway with a driver but there was never more weight on the back foot than the front. Numbers varied based on the individual but all S&T pros had a similar pattern. Golf will always be hard on backs. It’s not that a weight shift is bad for backs but more of the setup and technique used to shift the weight.

          • Dennis Clark

            Aug 28, 2014 at 11:24 pm

            What I’d like in Tigers case would be his 2000,2001 numbers. Both force plates and K vest. Or Rory’s right now. Or young Jack. That might tell me something about winners swings. Hogan in the 50s, lee in the 70s. That would give me a baseline for ball striking and performance. Or the numbers for the leaders in GIRs or Fairways. I need something beyond numbers, more functional. I’d like to see that. I have the force plates on my my Flightscope now. I’m just starting to experiment. Thx

          • Dennis Clark

            Aug 28, 2014 at 11:29 pm

            The other think, particularly about K vest numbers is whether the body is responding to the golf club or vice versa. A player with a 65 degree VSP is not going to respond as one with a 50 degree. Can’t do it. If your transition is week above plane nobody is going through. They are going away or UP.

  4. Adam

    Aug 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

    This is a spot-on analysis of Tiger’s swing changes. Now i’m not Dennis so I can’t say this is 100% why he’s not winning majors. Injuries are definitely a part of it. But this analysis demonstrates exactly what we’ve been watching these past couple years, some great ball striking nut ZERO consistency off the tee. Incredibly precise iron and wedge play when he’s on (Remember the Master’s run, hits the flagstick goes in the water, gets penalized, tourney over) and fighting the D-stick/Fairway woods off the tee. His old swing was the best-timed, most athletic traditional golf swing ever. Then he added the dynamics of leverage (Squat move) and the best mental game of nearly any competitor in any sport. I remember watching greatness every time he stepped on a tee box. Now I’m fearful for the spectators lining both sides.
    His move now into the ball and releasing the club just isn’t compatible. He makes it look incredibly impressive too, given the level of difficulty. I would love to see an earlier release point or a free-er move off the ball going back. I think today’s technology can put him still out there with anyone. (I’d love to see his spin rates..etc on trackman)
    He will be back and he’ll win more majors. But his current swing is taking him no where and these videos show exactly what we’ve been witnessing over the years.

    No comment on who should coach, or if he needs one. I will say though I do believe in bad MOJO and he looks like he’s got some demons out there.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 27, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Spot on Adam. I couldn’t agree more. It used to look soooo easy for him. I miss that; he’s good for our game.

      • Adam

        Aug 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm

        Thanks for the videos. I cant believe how much his upper body can hang back with that much leg drive. My back hurts watching the comparison.
        I think his body could respond greatly to a change back to the old swing (Not 100% change). He hit the ball better than anyone because of his swing. And beat everyone because of the confidence he had in that swing.
        Now he may hit still the ball unlike any golfer ever, but that gap is closing and he’s not helping himself trying to hit it like this.

        Watch the best hockey slapshots, it’s not the most lag, or most downward force that makes the shot great. It’s the timing and combination of both that separate the greats from the average. Hell even Happy Gilmore could break the glass.

      • Adam

        Aug 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

        And yes Hockey doesn’t compare because “loading” a slap shot generates force from dragging the stick on the ice. My point was simply that he doesn’t NEED that much lag to be a great ball striker and player. IMHO – this lag driven swing and centered move are the culprits for his inconsistency off the tee and his back pain.
        Also, we can all agree he is not the same guy on the greens that we’re used to seeing…better than most!

        • Al Czervik

          Aug 28, 2014 at 1:17 am

          Question…. I do take things Johnny Miller says with a grain of salt as some golf swing analysis he does should be for entertainment value only but in his book that I read a couple of years ago Miller stated that in a tour study he was the only tour player that had a driver head still accelerating after contact with the ball. Now if that’s the case than Miller had a mph or two that was never applied to the ball and his impact condition looked like Tiger 2000. My question is with a release as late as Tigers now is he really getting all the clubhead speed he can applied at contact or is he wasting potential energy with the head still accelerating after the ball is gone. He can hit missiles now with his irons but is his late release conducive to max distance driving without considering accuracy. I guess my real question is what does a release that late really give you? Is it something to aspire to or is it a timing headache when a milder release like Scotts or Mcilroys generates similar speed. Where is the optimal point to start releasing the club.

          • Dennis Clark

            Aug 28, 2014 at 5:27 pm

            well first of all, I’d question the acceleration AFTER impact. The collision of club and ball slows it down. An earlier release or more accurately an earlier “in-line” condition of left arm and club, helps square the face, promotes better timing and should create a higher flight. The lead wrist actually goes from flat to extended immediately after impact allowing the club to swing past the body and off to the left.

  5. luke keefner

    Aug 26, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Tiger misses left because he aims left trying
    for a cut that is not reliable. Makes no sense to fight your natural ball flight. Not that anything I do makes sense….

  6. Richard L Cox III

    Aug 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    My big issue, which might lead to the excessive forward shaft lean, is that the lateral hip movement is followed by an excessive backwards motion from his upper body. Look at the video from the top in both the 2000-ish swing and the current move, and you’ll notice how Tiger’s new swing does NOT cover the ball with his chest, while the old swing stayed in fairly neutral joint-alignment almost entirely throughout. this lower body/upper body ‘reverse-slide’ has forced him to try and cover the ball with his hands and arms from an attack position that can only produce wipe-cuts and pull-draws: his upper body is far behind his hands, and his lower body is out in front of his left foot. For Tiger, I equate that to the newer, rounded backswing motion that has come post-Harmon (and likely, post knee-issue); It was designed to relieve pressure on the knee, but it increased pressure on the lower back. The increased spine tilt away from the target also changes the swing arc DRAMATICALLY. The back could’ve always been an issue, but the knee was an issue first…he started staying on the left side to decrease lateral pressure on his MCL/PCL/ITB in the left knee. Covering the ball with his chest is now not only possible, it’s imperative…

    The rest of Tiger’s career is dependant on whether or not he learns to post up on his left leg the way he did before his knee gave-way.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      The answer to any an all of that would be in one K vest session. Readily available to him. K vest tracks Torso and Pelvis forward bend, side bend ad rotation. We live in an age where none of this should be guesswork at the highest level. The increase side bend through the ball and gotten worse with the lag, and vice versa. The more rounded shape was a Haney construct stemming form his plane theory more so than as a result of his injuries. I think he’ll be back. BTW congrats to Hunter Mahan, talk about stealing the thunder:)

  7. jake

    Aug 25, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Who’s going to be his new coach since his split with sean?

    • Desmond

      Aug 25, 2014 at 10:52 am

      I heard Tiger was a forum junkie… guess he read this column over the weekend … lol. And good for him, and us, if it works.

    • Ponjo

      Aug 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Hank Haney.

  8. jwheels

    Aug 25, 2014 at 9:57 am


    Those are some very good points that you have made in those swing sequences. A question if I may, when I look at these sequences, an outlying theme that I see is the vertical movement up and down from his transition to impact. The early videos that you are comparing his current swing to, granted angles of the camera, he seems to much taller through the hitting area which would allow for an earlier release. would you agree?


    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 25, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Tiger has always had a squat. That’s how he uses the ground. Watch Rory he does it better than anyone. There’s power in that squat. If I asked you to do a vertical leap, you’d squat first so you could push off the ground, no? most power players use the ground this way. The idea is to come back UP after the squat, but what raises is the pelvis, not the torso. Thx

  9. Ponjo

    Aug 25, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Looking at Tiger driving the ball I cannot help but think back to Mr Haneys book the Big Miss. Never a truer word spoken

  10. Tim

    Aug 25, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Sean took elements from many styles and methods to develop his “model”. He doesn’t teach all his guys exactly the same, but they all share certain elements. Particularly with their setup alignments. Sean spent a lot of time picking Andy and Mike’s brains while developing his own methodologies. So he absolutely used elements of
    S&T. Pretty sure anyone who’s studies S&T knows this and agrees. But it’s not S&T. He’s a smart guy. Misguided, but very smart. He didn’t come up with these ideals on his own and he’s the first to admit it. He’s publicly given Andy and Mike a lot of credit for sharing their knowledge with him.

    • Dan

      Aug 25, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Why doesn’t anybody point to the groove rule for Tiger’s lack of majors? The last one he won was with the old grooves right? Smash and scrape worked back then. I can’t recall anybody bringing up wedge grooves for an explanation but I think it is a major factor.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Mac O’grady needs to be in that conversation.

  11. M.

    Aug 24, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Somebody give Tiger Elk’s number so he can teach him the ‘twirl’????

  12. Joe

    Aug 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Interesting Analysis Dennis. One question for you. I notice in some of Tiger’s younger swings his left ankle comes off the ground some. I am about 50 and grew up learning to swing with a Jack style weight shift, allowing my left ankle to come significantly off the ground and feeling the weight in my right heel. I’ve experimented over the years with the modern swing of keeping the left foot down but I’ve never been able make a complete backswing this way. Am I ok staying with the left ankle off the ground swing, or is there a reason everyone today seems to swing with the left foot on the ground? Thanks and I love your articles.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Joe its a flexibility issue and a matter of choice really. Great players have done it both ways really. The downside is losing your posture going back, and losing some “coil” if the hips turn too much with the shoulders. But I have some of my senior golfers do it just to get a little more length in the backswing. Thx.

    • Joe

      Aug 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks Dennis. Obviously I meant my left heel, not my left ankle, but I’m quite sure you knew what I meant.

  13. Jeff

    Aug 24, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Great video, thanks for posting.

  14. Nathan

    Aug 24, 2014 at 12:15 am

    There is no noticable decline in his skills…. wtf

    • Robeli

      Aug 24, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Only decline in his scoring and wining…wtf

  15. golfpro

    Aug 23, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I am a golf professional, i teach lessons fairly regularly. I have never taught a tour pro, but the only “problem” i see here is paralysis by analysis. Its almost never mechanics that hold a top tier player back. Tigers fundamentals are flawless in this video. Tiger (or maybe the public?) needs to “settle” with his current mechanics, and start trying to enjoy the game of golf again.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Tigers “fundamentals” are correct for him. The longer you teach for a living the more you are likely abandon the idea of “fundamentals” as a universal concept. Every position that is considered fundamental is disregarded by some great player somewhere. That’s why I use term compatible, not fundamental, as much as I once did. As I said in the article, I do not believe the later release is compatible with the more centered pivot. But he’s the best Ive ever seen, so I think it will all be fine. I don’t agree however that all is flawless right now. Thx

    • Fundy

      Aug 24, 2014 at 1:29 am

      If his fundamentals are flawless, why does he spray it all over the place, then? Isn’t that why Mr Clark is doing this analysis?
      Why doesn’t Woods just swing like Jim Furyk then? Furyk seems to hit it fairly straight most of the time with everything and doesn’t try to kill it, he just flicks at it and obviously gets enough distance to be able to still compete, unlike Woods, who seems to look like he wants to absolutely mash the noodles out of the ball with the driver.

  16. chippster

    Aug 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    My 2c: Tiger’s problems have little to do with his swing. He has no guiding compass in his life without his dad. I have seen this same phenomenon before. Maybe he should talk with Jack Nicklaus more and also ask him about Byron Nelson (Byron, when he was young). Byron for those who remember him was extremely rock solid in his approach to the game: extremely.

  17. Britt

    Aug 23, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Tiger has a classic reverse pivot and pull swing that will continue to stress his back and cause all sorts of shots. Until he goes back to swinging more classically as learned from Butch Harmon, he will continue to have problems. He has great hands and athletic ability. Let him swing naturally with his body instead of restricting it. Look at the 45 minute warm up video of him from 2000 at the Johnny Walker on YouTube. That was a free flowing well timed swing that produced long straight shots with wonderful tempo. His short game was majestic. Sean Foley has ruined all parts of his game. This is a shame.

    • Desmond

      Aug 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      LOL … sorry … that’s funny.

    • Carl Spackler

      Aug 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      Tiger has a reverse pivot? I guess he will have to start competing in the Golf Am tour in the 20 handicap bracket.

      • Dennis Clark

        Aug 25, 2014 at 7:34 pm

        I love the Carl Spackler and Ty Webb names:)

    • Ty Webb

      Aug 25, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Witt, do you even know what a reverse pivot is?

  18. Alex

    Aug 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    So I have a question/theory. Could his increase in this lag be partly due to him getting so much stronger that now he shouldn’t try to hold on, because he physically can? Maybe when he was long and thin he held on but simply couldn’t sustain the lag with brute force, and now he can?

    So it’s just releasing as usual, it’s just his body that has changed?

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      Nah, he was strong was he was thinner too. His bench press at Stanford was through the roof as I hear. Gifted.

  19. Roids

    Aug 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Amazing what happens to “athletes” when you take the Steroids away

    • Jim

      Aug 24, 2014 at 8:03 am

      And the award for most ignorance goes to….. YOU SIR!

      • Lloyd Christmas

        Aug 25, 2014 at 9:33 pm

        You’ll have to forgive my friend Roids he’s a little slow.

  20. Dennis Clark

    Aug 23, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Authors note: These articles always get personal somehow? My video analysis indicates a SPECIFIC area of change in his driver swing. That’s IT! Nothing about Tiger or last year, his injury or his life off the course. Ive said it many times, I’m a HUGE TW fan. I only point this out because maybe, just maybe, it might get noticed and help a little bit.

    • Jeffrey Yoder

      Aug 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Dennis – what specifically would you tell Tiger to improve his driver swing and would changes need to be made to his iron swings too. It seems to me that Tiger has such gifted hands that to practice a swing that neutralizes that is insane. I would like him to go back to a square set up – quit aiming left – and work more in to out and have a more draw based game. Thoughts?

      • Dennis Clark

        Aug 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

        Im not privy to all Sean and Tiger are working on in their sessions. But Im a believer that there are matching components in the golf swing. A centered pivot needs an earlier release and a wider more off-the-ball move can use more lag. It’s bottom of the arc issue, a face squaring issue and clearly leads to better timing when the components match. With his current takeaway I see a need to let the club release a little earlier. JUST my professional opinion…not a knock on Sean or Tiger, just worth a try.

  21. Jeff

    Aug 23, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I know a teacher who could fix him and its not Harmon, Haney or Foley. Its too bad that so many teachers want to mold the student into their swing and not the other way round. It feels like Foley is using Tiger as a test dummy.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Pray tell, Jeff!

      • Jeff

        Aug 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

        Mmmmm Dennis …… Well, he doesn’t teach just one swing style. He teaches 2 which the vast majority of us fall into and that there are specific elements within each of those swings one should do in order to be successful.

  22. Christosterone

    Aug 23, 2014 at 10:13 am

    He won 5 times last year…
    2013 pga tour player of the year
    2013 pga player of the year
    2013 vardon trophy (hardest in golf imho, especially considering the tourneys he plays)
    2013 leading money winner
    You’re right, he is really floundering…it has nothing to do with the major back surgery.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:08 am

      No one said he’s floundering. The video points out a SPECIFIC area of change in his approach to swinging the golf club. As for last year, IMO Tiger is so superior in his skills, that he could have won left handed some weeks! The article is not a criticism of Tiger, his life or anything else. It just suggests a change that might not be in his best interest. He’s the best ever at the game I love. I hope he’s back in full flight next season.

      • Christosterone

        Aug 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        My apologies as my comment was more directed at the comments below.
        It is frustrating to read such vitriol about a guy thats won 79 times on tour.
        Not from you…
        As for releasing, I thought Tigers swing under Haney when he played a release cut(his words, not mine) was fantastic…if i remember correctly he had a streak of 7 or 8 wins with that swing…
        Ias for everything else, Foley should be committed to an insane asylum if he changed tigers chipping and putting motion…which imho, it appears that he did…
        This is his problem in my estimation…tiger curb stomped the competition with his ridiculous talent from 80 yards and in….foley appears to have altered his pitch, chipping and putting stroke…which is like touching up the mona lisa in my opinion.

    • Christopher

      Aug 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      And worked so well in majors holding up under pressure

    • Desmond

      Aug 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      You make a good point, but remember, that dominance was mostly over a 2 month period in the early spring, and then disappeared. It’s not as if he was Tiger Woods consistent. He floundered in the Majors and won, I believe the BMW in the Summer … So you could say he did well with Foley for 2 months in a 4 year period. Not a good track record if you’re Tiger “Freakin” Woods.

  23. Paul

    Aug 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Excellent analysis Dennis, what you are describing is symptomatic of Tiger’s move to compensate for a negative attack angle by swinging left, as prescribed by his coach and all other teachers who use the dplane in their teaching. He must know this doesn’t work for him but he stubbornly persists because he has been convinced of its validity by scientists.

    The ‘dplane dance’ with clubpath, attack angle and swing plane/direction is a formula which supposedly describes what has happened at impact. However it is a big mistake to assume from this that changing the swing direction can adjust the clubpath. The clubpath is controlled instinctively and skilfully by the path of the hands and wrists and the swing direction naturally changes to accommodate this. When looking at the swings of all great players it is clear to see swing direction and clubpath direction diverging coming into impact, why then would you want to connect them. I’m afraid the ‘Secret of the Straight Shot’ has a lot to answer for.

    It will take a brave coach to stand up and be counted on this, will be very surprised if anyone does.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Very true. The path DOES not have to be zero ed out. The only zero we MUST have is a path relative to face. HSP, now swing direction, has meaning only in how it matches the face. Ur comment is accurate.

      • Paul

        Aug 23, 2014 at 10:56 am

        Thanks for reply Dennis.

        Excellent perspective and explains the true reason why swing direction is adjusted left to compensate for a negative attack angle (i.e. to facilitate a square clubface).

        This has major implications for those teaching dplane.

        Hope we can connect soon to discuss this further

  24. Pingback: Clark: Tiger’s “late release” is holding him back |

  25. RG

    Aug 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

    When I look at Tiger circa 2000 compared to today the biggest thing that jumps at me is his tempo. He was so smooth back then and his transition was perfect. Now he looks like he jumps and jerks, especially with his driver. I think this is killing his rhythm and his release.

    • Stephen markovitz

      Aug 23, 2014 at 8:38 am

      His tempo and rhythm are off because his club is a foot behind him. He needs to feel like he’s throwing it from the top and let the club bring him thru the finish. He’s not able to make a nice finish because all his momentum is spent before it gets to the ball… which makes him jerk thru impact and look like he’s saving it->>

      • Dennis Clark

        Aug 23, 2014 at 10:11 am

        The club was behind him for 14 majors. This is a case of buying into science and disregarding IMPACT. Is 5 degrees inside out OK? Sure if the clubface matches that path. The idea of “optimizing launch conditions” is hurting some really good players.

        • Dennis Clark

          Aug 23, 2014 at 10:13 am

          Ignoring ball flight is what I meant.

        • golfpro

          Aug 23, 2014 at 9:29 pm

          Couldnt agree more dennis! Trackman and floghtscope are nice teaching tools. But there is no “perfect” conditions at impact. Or at least, it is more important to have consistent impact conditions. Tiger needs Harvey Penick

  26. Bernard

    Aug 23, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Enjoyed the video. Think your spot on with your thoughts. Tiger needs to adjust & re-boot. That’s half of it. Since his personal travails hit the tabloids, he’s not the same competitor. I always wished he owned things a bit more….the guy is iconic, biggest athlete since M. Jordan, so he likes women, whooped dee do. He let the public humiliation get under his skin. Own your demons first Tiger, go win the next major, then repent.

  27. Ben Hogan

    Aug 23, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Definitely agree with this video but I think it is somewhat due to cause and effect. My personal opinion is that the interlocking grip causes a slower release and because he is trying to improve his attack angle to maximize the distance with driver he is forced to drag the handle forward. (I think this is also the cause of his inability to keep his hips in the box as Wayne Defrancesco puts it.) It was fine back with Butch and Haney because he tended to move off the ball more than he does now and give him time to level out the attack angle. With Sean he has gone back to a strong grip that is similar to 2000, which along with the interlocking grip requires an extremely fast hip action that he also used to achieve by snapping the left leg. I think that he has been extremely concerned about protecting his left knee and has worked hard to improve his footwork from 2000 and get away from that move. With Haney he had an extremely weak grip that helped in releasing the club harder because he wasn’t afraid of it starting left and was able to play a nice draw all without having to snap the left knee. I have commented on this with Wayne Defrancesco but he doesn’t necessarily agree with me. I compare Tiger’s swing now with Justin Rose and I see a lot of similarities naturally but his release Justin’s much more in line and doesn’t have as much lean. One of the things Justin does differently is he uses an overlapping grip and I think this is the reason. A change to an overlapping grip would help release the club faster and also allow him to improve his attack angle with his driver. I would love to hear what your comments are on any differences you’ve noticed with the interlocking grip and overlapping grip and possibly some of the effects it has on a golfer’s trackman numbers.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Tiger has always used an interlock as far as I know. I have never seen the two grips increase or decrease speed but there is a huge difference in strong vs weak in ability to release. The change is see is a more centered pivot coupled with a later release. Those two are not a match IMO. THX

  28. Chuck

    Aug 23, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Great job. Perhaps his driver swing should be different than his iron swing? Pretty common thought among many experts

  29. Tom Stickney

    Aug 22, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Great work

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Tom do you know any Trackman numbers for Tiger other than the golf ball? Path, angle etc?

      • tom stickney

        Aug 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

        I don’t have anything from the last two years…sorry

  30. Mario V. Bellomo, PGA

    Aug 22, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Well spotted Dennis and nice explanation!

  31. farmer

    Aug 22, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    He looks so cramped and crowded at impact. He is also starting to get up on his left toes. I notice in the earlier swing, he was more rolling onto his left foot. Age, body or new swing?

  32. Booger

    Aug 22, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Who cares. Write an article about somebody who’s relevant in golf today.

    • Cris

      Aug 22, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Are you really that intellectually challenged? The title clearly states that it would be a Tiger analysis. Why bother to come in and post something stupid?

  33. Dennis Clark

    Aug 22, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    My story was a direct comment on Tigers swing and one particular aspect of it. I’m a huge Tiger fan, and I don’t want to generate a personality debate. It is clear that he has changed. The question is why and is it best for him. He’s the best I’ve ever seen and his coach is very knowledgeable. I just think he needs to address the driver swing.

    • Rich

      Aug 23, 2014 at 2:19 am

      The problem doesn’t stem from his swing. It’s comes from inside his head. Ever since he turned out to be a cheating scum bag, he has never been the same. Everyone knows golf is majority mental so ever since then, everybody knows he’s beatable and no majors since 2008 is all the prof anyone will ever need that his head is not where is should be and probably never will be. He has to fix his head before anything else will work.

  34. Jorge

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Tiger has a significant fear of the ball going left so the reason he holds off on the release so much is to ensure he does not hook the crap out of it.

    I’m a massive Tiger fan and it’s a real shame of his demise since 2009. I hope he realises something needs to change

    Hey Dennis, maybe you should coach Tiger 🙂

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      It would be a pleasure…I’d start by trying an earlier release.

      • golfpro

        Aug 23, 2014 at 9:38 pm

        I think the idea of “controlling” your release point is a bit of a farce. Even to the best player of all time. Its more a product of his hips and how quickly and aggressively they get out of the way.

        • Dennis Clark

          Aug 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm

          I think release IS controlled by the player. Some of the very talented professionals I work with are able to release early or late on command. So do amateurs really, they just don’t do it on command. In the mid/high handicap golfers the release point is typically fairly early (getting in line) and the body reacts to how early they release it. Running ahead with the upper body for example is generally a reaction to an early release. So is chicken winging etc. Thx

  35. Ian

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Good spot Dennis. He releases way better on the swing on the right and seems to keep the club squarer for longer at impact. The swing on the left, looks like a fight to stop a pull hook ( his favourite miss at the moment ). Hitting that late with that much lag seems like a recipe for disaster. On the point about some great iron players being poor drivers of the ball, the late great Seve was in that mould.

    • Rich

      Aug 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Dual masters winner and fellow spaniard Jose Maria Olazabel was also a master iron player in his time but not so good with driver.

  36. Brooke

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Isn’t Tiger’s swing the “modern” swing? Squatting on the downswing, creating more lag, covering the ball more?

  37. Dennis Clark

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    As an instructor, I believe the late release has a place for certain golf swings. Where the problem may lie in is the more centered pivot going back. That move is more compatible with a bigger, wider move off the ball in the takeaway

    • Desmond

      Aug 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      I don’t think the center pivot is the issue – you see more tour players these days with less head movement, maybe an inch or so to the right, if not centered. I think the issue is more in the execution of the center pivot. In the early driver swings, it seemed Tiger’s right leg straightened more on the back swing, while he seems to fight it a bit in today’s swing on some of the shots you displayed.

      You do not need to retain that much drag in a center pivot swing. He can let it go.

      • Desmond

        Aug 23, 2014 at 9:57 am

        To add, check a caddie view of Grant Waite on youtube – a center pivot who hits similar positions on the downswing that you seem to favor. Why Foley/Tiger do not conduct a similar analysis as you have is beyond …

      • Dennis Clark

        Aug 23, 2014 at 11:12 am


  38. OOOHHH

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    know any good drills for creating a later release:) I wish I had Tiger’s problem. My release is just a bit too flippy right after impact.

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      See my comment on compatibility; the release has to match the width of the golf swing

    • Dennis Clark

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:13 am

      we all take Tiger’s worst day…he will be back!

  39. Large chris

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I actually get a little misty looking at his swing from ’97 or so….. His current method is so awful with the driver. It is clear that he would have far less injury problems if he went back to the free flowing upward hitting driver swing, rather than some sort of half stinger.

    • Jack

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I’m not sure why he doesn’t do it like the rest of us. If the driver isn’t going straight, hit it higher. He’s obviously the greatest golfer of all time, so he knows what he’s doing, but delofting it like he is just makes things worse. The launch angle seems so low (it’s hard to tell what it really is, but delofting and delaying it like that can’t lead to a high launch angle unless his body was seriously leaning back).

  40. Chris

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Great analysis. The easy answer would be for Tiger to go back to Butch and see what happens. Then we might know if it was his instruction-or maybe his body is letting him down. But that will happen right after the Eagles get back together and tour……..oh, wait…well maybe there’s hope.

  41. cwolf

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Please. Listening to Brandell Chamblee for too long will rot you brain.

  42. Dennis Clark

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Granted the ball position is a little different and we don’t know what he’s trying to do on these particular shots, but if you observe closely, there is a definite attempt to hold on and lag the club now. Maybe he’s trying to go more left, which is why he moved the ball up, or maybe he and his coach feel this later release is more compatible with his somewhat flatter move now, but I would like to see him start driving the ball better and get back to his winning ways.

  43. roger

    Aug 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Brandel Chamblee said the same thing when speaking with Frank Nobilo.

    • mitch

      Aug 22, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      I don’t have any problems with Brandel’s observations of the excessive forward shaft lean, but I do have issues with him using that as an rationale for Tiger’s health. No one except Tiger knows why he is hurt and to use blanket statement that his forward shaft lean is direct cause of his injuries is absolutely ridiculous.

      Truth is Tiger is OCD, he wants to murder that ball and likes to flight the ball. In his mind, body and soul he projects an image, much like a painter or photographer projects a work of art, and that image happens to be a piercing ball flight that he likes to use because he believes in hitting that “universal ball”. That is fine and dandy if he was using a 320 cc head, but all modern heads are meant to hit it with high launch and low spin. So imo, Tiger could use the same swing but use a 2Deep instead or he if he insists on using the modern driver then he will definetly have to change his driver swing technique in order to contend in the majors again.

  44. snowman

    Aug 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I hope Tiger watches your analysis; it is unfathomable to me that arguably the greatest player ever is so bad off the tee. I know he won a bunch of majors driving it somewhat wild, but he seems completely lost at this point. I’m not a teacher or a pro, but I have experimented with the Foley Style (~S&T type) motion and also observe that many people, including Tiger (and me) can hit good irons with this style but cannot make it work for the Driver. Seems to me that it is great concept for the irons, but it is almost 100% non-optimal for hitting the driver. Maybe if a player had always stayed on top of the ball/hung left or what ever you want to call it then they can play the driver with this swing (Mahan?), but this is way different for Tiger who spent all those years with the more traditional swing theories.

    • Chris

      Aug 22, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Even Mahan has his problems (in my opinion) when the heat is on. His misses get further right when the pressure is high. Obviously those guys don’t want the ball going left, so the miss becomes a hold on push. Factor in that the club is online less with the target in a more rotary swing, and these could be reasons why Tiger and other players struggle with the driver with this type of swing.

      • mitch

        Aug 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

        Sean Foley is anything but S&T, once again that is a blanket statement.

        Everyone with the exception of Jack and Tiger have problems when the heat is on. The game is 99% mental at the PGA level.

        Once again, Tiger’s “swing” problems aren’t an issue, its his philosophical approach both on and off the course that is more of a concern. Looking at Tiger, he is way to muscular, more mass puts more strain on your body. Even Lebron, Melo realized that too much mass can be problematic.

        Another issue I can’t figure out is why in the world does he have to swing so hard every time to hit the ball, last year when I saw him Golf Channel (On The Range), he was so majestic hitting 3/4 shots, everything about his motion was fluid and had that beautiful control and violence mixed into it. If he swung like that all the time, he would win 50% of his tournaments, easily. Its almost like, he ain’t satisfied with a 320 yard drives he wants that that extra 5 yards, and will sacrifice his body in doing so. I know as a professional athlete you are constantly challenging yourself to reach that next level, but in Golf, enough is enough, you don’t need to hit it 350 yards to contend.

        • Dale Doback

          Aug 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

          Saying Sean Foley is anything but stack and tilt is like saying vanilla bean ice cream is completely different than vanilla.

          • Stephen markovitz

            Aug 23, 2014 at 9:00 am


          • Mizunopure

            Aug 23, 2014 at 5:58 pm

            Hahahah you win!!!!

          • Dennis Clark

            Aug 23, 2014 at 6:08 pm


          • Dale Doback

            Aug 23, 2014 at 10:35 pm

            Sorry for the confusion Dennis. Just attempting a humorous reply to Mitch stating sean foley being anything but stack and tilt. Great article by the way.

          • mitch

            Aug 24, 2014 at 8:27 pm

            how is sean foley, even close to stack and tilt?

          • Brendon Hough

            Aug 25, 2014 at 3:18 am

            Study Foleys swing, read a few articles of which golf digest did a nice write up on Sean Foley vs. Stack and Tilt, watch Foleys DVD set. Foley, along with many other instructors including YouTube sensations like Martin Chuck, and Jeff Ritter have borrowed a vast amount of stack and tilt philosophy but put subtle changes of their own into their teachings. At their very core philosophies Sean Foley, Martin Chuck, Bennett and Plummer are all center pivot weight forward with no shift off the ball teachers which is vastly different from Butch Harmon, Jim McLean, and David Leadbetters teachings that the weight moves in the same direction the club moves with a shift back and then forward.

        • Ian

          Sep 21, 2014 at 11:06 am

          excellent my very thoughts, when he plays badly he swings so fast like a lunatic 24 handicapper, spinning his hips so fast he just about takes off like a helicopter, when he swings ‘sweetly’ he is so good.

      • Claude

        Aug 22, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        Cant drive the ball
        Cant pitch the ball
        Cant chip the ball

        Hopefully he doesn’t loose interest and retire.

        • Dennis Clark

          Aug 23, 2014 at 11:15 am

          I wish I couldn’t drive pitch or chip that well. 🙂 When we say “can’t it is RELATIVE Claude!

      • Chris

        Aug 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

        ……and then Mahan goes and wins. Go Pokes!

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Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)



In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?

I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:

“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below.  I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time.  I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135.  My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards.  No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances.  It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away.  What am I doing wrong?

Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

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Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill



When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!

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Wedge Guy: The top 7 short game mistakes



I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and I’ve made it my life’s work to closely observe golfers and their short games. So, I thought I’d compile what I see into a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring. So here goes, not in any particular order:

  1. Tempo. Maybe the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That probably comes from the misunderstood and overdone advice “accelerate through the ball.” I like to compare playing a golf hole to painting a room, and your short shots are your “trim brushes”. They determine how the finished work turns out, and a slower and more deliberate stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.
  2. Set Up/Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Bend your knees a bit more and grip down on the club – it puts you closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end.
  3. Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and a proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
  4. Hand position. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact, but the club is not tilted up on its toe. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.
  5. Lack of Body/Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact.
  6. Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW, 9-iron or even less will give you much better results. The other error is seen in those golfers who are “afraid” of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
  7. Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. One is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” up on the ball, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. Obviously, there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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