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The media’s war on golf instructors



If you watch golf on television these days, you might think that golf instructors are ruining the game. Certainly the travails of Tiger Woods have offered up plenty of ammunition for the anti-instruction movement so obviously embraced by just about every commentator on the Golf Channel and PGA Tour broadcasts. Their argument is a simple one: too much information ruins the “natural” ability of the players who seek help from instructors.

Just this week, Sean O’Hair gave an interview that was hailed by every media person who commented on it as an honest assessment of how too much instruction ruined his game, and only now that he was “finding his own game” was he finding success again.

Tiger’s problems have been laid directly on Sean Foley, who, as the pundits would have you believe, had Tiger working on a swing technique guaranteed to hurt his back and give him the short game yips. Brandel Chamblee has gone as far as stating that “Tiger has had the greatness coached out of him,” and “modern golf instruction is a cancer on the game.” According to Johnny Miller, anyone who qualifies to play on the PGA Tour is already good enough and should never change anything.

Of course, Miller forgets that every year a bunch of players lose their card due to substandard play, while every player not yet on the big tour tries to improve enough to get there. The desire to improve is a constant characteristic of successful athletes.

In a game as complex as golf, the player can’t be expected to understand the nuances of all the technique he or she uses to navigate around the course, and the truth is most players don’t want to think about what they are doing. But the game is so difficult that there will always be periods of poor play, and the player will naturally begin to worry about retaining his position in the game.

Golf instructors usually have some sort of playing background, and if they have been tabbed by a Tour player to be a coach it is for a good reason. It is vital to remember that no instructor can be on the range at a Tour event unless they are invited to be there. The player has to request credentials for the teacher, and the teacher cannot be on the range without the player. In other words, instruction is entirely voluntary.

I was hired by Kevin Streelman last June when he was unhappy with his game and the look of his swing. He had missed four straight cuts and was frustrated enough to seek different advice.

No teacher or player has all the answers to the game of golf. Golf instructors have preferences, and players who like to look at or measure their swings develop their own preferences as well. My vision of the swing is readily available on my website, and Kevin liked what he saw, so he contacted me. He wanted to change a swing pattern that had bothered him for years and that he felt he was not making progress on.

Players know their deficiencies. They also know that if they are not among the top players, a small retreat in performance will mean a loss of playing status. You can imagine the angst that exists after an extended slump. My point here is that while the players on the Tour are certainly good enough to get there, they may not be good enough to stay there, and they may not be able to improve enough to move up into the top echelon of players.

If they are not technically oriented and already have a great work ethic, then what is left for them to do? Who is going to offer them better direction or an answer to the problems they encounter when simply practicing all day doesn’t help? Every great tennis professional has a coach. All the major team sports have instructors for every aspect of their game. They all use video obsessively, and every movement is analyzed in super slow motion as the coaches look to correct technique flaws. Hitting, pitching, fielding, blocking, tackling, covering, every play is recorded, every practice is recorded, and the whole team spends huge amounts of time watching and going over technique.

Why has it been decided that to do that in golf is such a horrible thing?

I compare my job to that of a NASCAR mechanic. I don’t drive the car and I’m not going to tell the driver how to drive. I just get the car running as well as I can so that the player doesn’t have to worry about it. How to organize the information and simplify the thought process is ultimately the job of the player, because he is the car and the driver.

It is ironic that just about every golf commentator is a former player who is not playing anymore. They have all lost their status for one reason or another, and now it seems that all of them have forgotten where they came from. No one wants to stop playing the Tour. There is no top-100 player who would trade his status for a spot in front of the Golf Channel cameras. You would have to think that every commentator who lost their card sought some sort of instruction in order to avoid their eventual demise, instruction that obviously failed. Such an experience would definitely color how they view instruction now.

Again, it is important to remember that the players control who instructs them, or whether they get instruction at all. This is true from the club level all the way to the Tour. No one is being forced to take a lesson.

My lesson book is open to whoever wants to sign up. If no one signs up, I don’t teach. If Kevin hadn’t sought out my advice, you wouldn’t see me on the range at Tour events, just like you wouldn’t see Butch Harmon, Todd Anderson, Sean Foley, Pete Cowan, or any other teacher of Tour players you can name.

No teacher is seeking to fill up a student’s mind with information that the player doesn’t ask for. Teachers use different methods to be sure, and some use more technology than others. But in the final analysis, if the results aren’t there the coach gets fired.

Teachers are hired to help. Almost every player has someone they look to for help and advice. What prompted this article is the television media’s decision to focus on the players who have suffered a loss of performance under the tutelage of an instructor, while ignoring the success stories. Meanwhile, Michael Breed is ever present on the Golf Channel, with, you guessed it, golf instruction.

Go figure.

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Wayne has been playing tournament golf for more than 40 years and teaching golf for over 27 years. He is the Director of Instruction at Lakewood CC in Rockville, Maryland and is founder of the Wayne Defrancesco Golf Learning Center (WDGLC). Wayne has spent countless hours analyzing some of the greatest golf legends both past and present in order to teach his Pivot Compression Golf Swing technique. Visit and you will spend hours watching FREE videos and reading articles created with the sole purpose to help people become the best golfers they can be. Become a better ball striker with Wayne's Pivot Compression Golf Swing DVD:



  1. Jay K.

    Aug 23, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Maybe, If Brandel Chamblee had worked regularly with a golf instructor, He’d have won more than 1 time while on tour. But, I doubt it.

  2. Jeff

    Apr 2, 2015 at 12:45 am

    War. Good metaphor. How many golf instructors have been killed or maimed so far and why hasn’t it been on Fox News yet?

  3. Provisional

    Mar 30, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Yeah, Foley really messed Tiger up:
    2013- 5 wins out of 16 starts, 1st on money list with 8.5 million, 2nd in scoring average.
    Have any of the critics (particularly Brandel Chamblee) bothered to spend time with the instructors whose livelyhood they bash?
    BTW the V1 software is a great tool to see what you are actually doing in your swing versus what you think you are doing. $5 on the App Store. Went from 9hdcp to 4 in one season with 5 lessons from local MAPGA Professional using V1.
    Keep on keepin em honest Wayne.

    • Manga

      Apr 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      I honestly don’t think that Brandel Chamblee believes 90% of what he says. It’s true that golfers on the PGA Tour are ridiculously good, but everyone needs instruction. It’s likely the case that they are getting the wrong instruction or become to mechanical with some of their changes. Golf is hard, so is learning a new swing action. Foley may be trying to teach something that Tiger just can’t learn at this stage or with his body. That’s not to say instruction is worthless.

  4. Pingback: The Lemon Drop Kid | Life on Tour

  5. golferjack

    Mar 27, 2015 at 3:17 am

    Interesting article, can’t really comment on the commentators as I don’t see enough of them being in Europe and not USA. Regarding Tiger and Sean Foley however I have to say there is only one Person who is responsible for Tiger’s Situation and that is Tiger himself. Why would anyone who had won the Masters, British Open and US Open by record margins want to Change their swing? At the time he was with Butch Harmon Tiger could win with his “C” Game, with his “A”game he was unstopable. Maybe his “friend” Mark O Meara didn’t do him any favors taking him to Hank, maybe he needed that, who are we to judge, but Foley is not to blame for his Problems. As far as coaches go, I wouldn’t presume to know what a tour pro Needs but in this modern era we have many more Players who shoot really low and that is not just Equipment and better agronomy or balls it also has to do with the Level of Coaching available today.

  6. Roger

    Mar 25, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    A simple flowing swing built on not too much thought is a winner.
    Announcers need controversy so you keep listening.
    In 20 years i have had 3 coaches, all like Wayne D
    Low tech, great communicators

  7. Mitch

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Wayne D – you are my favorite coach – thus the reason I subscribe to your website. I like your style because you show what great golfers do and why they are great, the evidence is all encompassing. I don’t know why there is this negative sentiment to modern methods of teaching. if a player can use track man to get instant feed back on their swing and ball flight, why wouldn’t they use it? Data supports that over time, proximity to the hole equates to better scores which = more winnings on tour. Can’t blame tour players on their obsession with swing mechanics when its a sure fire way to make more money.

  8. wayne defrancesco

    Mar 24, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    If any of the comments here were made by people who were out on Tour watching the best players from close up they would absolutely understand just how good you have to be to be to keep your Tour card, how much better you have to be to be in the top 50, how much better than that you have to be to make the Tour Championship, how much better than that you have to be to be in the top 10, and how much better than that you have to be to be in the conversation around being #1. Every player is looking for every possible way to improve. If they decide to overhaul their swing they find someone they think can do it and make them better. Most times they get tired of patterns that they believe are holding them back. Thinking about nothing changes nothing. I don’t think you’ll find a guy out there who thinks he’s “got it” and no longer has to worry about improving. Instructors are using technology because they think it can help them help the players. I happen to not use Trackman, force plates, 3D, or any other of the newer technological innovations that have come along to analyze swings and ball flight. I use a video camera and V1 software, and I have a large library of the swings of the greatest players to play the game. I was a good player in my day, and I know what a good swing should feel like. I’m very hands on when I teach, because I believe that is the best way to get someone to feel what I would like them to do. I have a certain vision of the swing and how it works best, and that is what people sign up for when they come to me for help. I would never, and I believe that goes for any good instructor, take apart a swing and overhaul it unless there was nothing there to work with. There aren’t any Tour players who fit that description. Players long for simplicity, not complication, but many of them like to understand the details of what they are doing. It is entirely up to the player to decide how to use the information they are getting on the golf course.

  9. Gorden

    Mar 24, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Most all the big name golf instructors have books out on how to play the game…I got caught up with what each one was saying and have a stack of books as tall as me now, I became crazed trying to find two of them that had the same swing ideas (zero). After about 20 years and dozens of DVD’s to go along with my golf book insanity I just settled on the Todd Graves, Moe Norman type swing and have never played better or understood what I was doing. Scores are way better and lost balls almost a forgotten event and a simple swing that you can figure out what your doing wrong as you walk between shots.

  10. Patricknorm

    Mar 24, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Very good article regarding golf coaches. What’s changed golf really since Tiger Woods won his first PGA event is money. Because Woods was the benchmark for pro golf, his success meant a huge increase in the purses for golf. Top players now have “stables” of instructors, fitness gurus, nutritionists, psychologists, trackman, agents, etc. Today a player like Rory McIlroy plans his year based on the majors. But really what he’s doing is maximizing his earning potential.
    All great athletes need mentors, advisors, a guardian angel to compete professionally. With the advent of the Internet over the last 20 years golf instruction can now be quantified and studied to death. And blame the Golf Channel for the endless stream of talking heads, who frankly need something to talk about. Generally golf is a boring, plodding , tactical sport. So the commentators have to fill space with their inanities. It’s always about money.

  11. Wendell

    Mar 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I love watching golf and my time to watch is limited due to work… it frustrates me to no end hearing golf announcers waste my valuable time ranting about teaching in the game. Teaching will not go away… that is a certainty. So why all the focus on this issue? I almost walked away from the game a few years ago due to uncontrolled hooking… I went looking for help… 2 lessons later it was simplified for me in what I need to do. I spent the entire winter working on my swing with a shifted focus towards where the club head was and ensuring I didn’t get it too inside that caused the extreme in to out path with a closed face. I have respect for teaching and what it can accomplish. Sure it may seem to be over the top in regards to the amount of analysis that we get from the high tech era however all things evolve in time.

  12. Jer

    Mar 24, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    This may be the longest article I’ve ever seen on this site;) but anyhow, in my own personal opinion, it brings up a question of all of the technology in the game now versus the past. Meaning before every player had a trackman next to them on the range, and a camera from three different angles showing every intricacy or flaw in a tour players swing, does this have an affect on the players mind? Always trying to remain consistent per the numbers popping up on the screen, or vice versa trying to change what’s showing on trackman has got to mess with your head as well. I can’t put blame on the instructors, I just think there is too much going on… and this brings back Sean O’hair and his logics of just having fun and playing “his” game, not what the shot analyzer or the teacher that is trying to mold hardened clay. I guess I would be contradicting myself by saying some limited observation couldn’t hurt, but feel everything else packaged together probably gets a bit overwhelming and I would personally lose my mind trying to match data and video.

    I probably am way off, and have no clue what I’m talking about….but my theory and thoughts on being taught, is I’d rather have someone spend 15 minutes with me, give their thoughts, rather than hours trying to mold me into something that in turn will probably hurt my game. And meaning hurt it by trying to meet to much mental criteria, and in turn me losing my natural swing thoughts.

  13. LI Golfer

    Mar 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Perhaps this article would have been better served if it wasnt written by a golf instructor, a “victim” of the “media war on Golf Instructors”…………..A little overwrought and whiny, no?

    On the other hand, Miller (who I can give the benefit of being a tour winner) and Chamblee (who I totally understand is a pot stirrer, because thats his job) need to put the focus of this discussion on the PLAYERS WHO HIRE THESE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTORS!!!!!! Tiger hired Foley and Haney b/c he wanted what they were selling. Same with all the other golfers. They are in control of the process and certainly can say “Enough” when it comes to Trackman Numbers. The players are pushing the agenda.

    Besides, if Tiger Woods continued to win on Tour, would we even be having this conversation???? Woods was unstoppable under Harmon and still winning under Haney. Isnt it his fault and not Sean Foley’s. Mahan is winning/contending. Rose won a Major. Foley works for them.

    Lets face, the media outlets covering Golf are trying to blame someone for losing their meal ticket and are trying to wring out what they can out of Tiger’s waning career, as is Tiger. Tiger is where he is b/c he tried to turn Golf into a sport, one of muscle and power. His physical issues are self inflicted, and not Foley’s fault

  14. Milton

    Mar 24, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Instructors that teach fundamentals are good, the average PGA pro will only help you. Michael Breed type is good…
    But guys that try to reinvent the wheel and make a name for themselves are bad.
    Sean Foley tries his absolute hardest to sound smart by overcomplicating things so the average person can’t understand. I can’t stand that man.

  15. Chris C

    Mar 24, 2015 at 9:25 am

    The perceived media war on instructors is essentially an exercise in preaching to the choir. Technological advances have given birth to an industry filled with instructors whose eyes never leave their computer screens. The best lessons I have ever received involved an instructor simply grabbing my club and dragging it into position. The worst lessons always involve a review of my swing on the bloody computer. I know I cross the line at the top; I know I come over the top with a swing that comes from right field and exists somewhere over the third base bullpen, but it all feels so good and so right. I do not need someone telling me that my swing needs improvement. I need an old school instructor who is willing to grab the club in the back swing and say “stop” , this is perfect, now start your damn down swing. I do not need nor do i wish to pay someone to film a succession of bad swings. I am the choir to whom the talking preach.

  16. Kevin Taglione

    Mar 24, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I hate it when the media bags on Tiger for changing instructors; did you have teachers in school and different coaches in sports. To the first different teachers in school, Tiger is and always has been a student of the game. He has always had the drive to learn alot about the game. So for him, I think just moving along in school and learning more about the game. To the second different coaches in sports. Tiger is athlete just like Lebron James or Richard Sherman. When Lebron moved to Miami didn’t it take sometime for him to become a champion; there is learning curve. I think the same can be applied for Tiger.

    My next point, I don’t think the current golf media has clue how modern teaching is done. Yes some guys have swing changes and completely rebuild their swings. Though I believe most of modern teaching is more coaching. I think players are now seeing teachers to tune there game; for the mental, physical, how they practice, and how they play.

    Finally the golf media is most hypocritical people in journalism. One moment they will bash Tiger for seeing Sean Foley and talking technical trackman numbers and then the next praise Paul Casey for putting up a multiple scores in the 90s on a Trackman Combine (the highest score ever is 93).

  17. christian

    Mar 24, 2015 at 3:17 am

    A NASCAR mechanic would fix the broken engine part and that’s it. Ten different NASCAR mechanics would NOT fix a broken part in ten different ways like ten 10 diffeent golf instructors probably would teach you 10 different swings. Terrible analogy. Since there is no such thing as a standard golf swing to teach all these different coaches put forward their own preferences and that of course opens them up to exactly this type of criticism.

  18. marcel

    Mar 24, 2015 at 12:31 am

    coaching is very important in golf and if not the most important; 2nd is conditioning and fitness… id quit golf if i was forced to listen to Chamblebee! i had great coaching in my lifetime and the only thing not being able to play good week-in week-out… its the strength and conditioning – strong lower back etc. to be a golfer you have to treat it as an athlete. Tiger is getting old and therefore his body does not recover.

  19. Midwestern Golfer

    Mar 24, 2015 at 12:13 am

    The Golf Channel is ruining the enjoyment of watching golf on TV. Brandel is a great example of someone who finds satisfaction in taking someone down. I’m tired of of it and I vote with the mute button when he appears.

  20. Ernie Happala

    Mar 23, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Former PGA Professional and I can say without a doubt in my opinion, the two worst people I have ever heard talk about the golf swing are Johnny Miller and Brandel Chamblee. Great and good player, but horrible eyes that don’t translate the golf swing to the English language well. The best part of the Golf Channel they have gotten away from, when they use to have all the different instructors on Golf Lesson Live.

  21. farmer

    Mar 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Instruction, as such, is not the problem with either Tiger or O’Hair.

  22. SBoss

    Mar 23, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I’ve got no issue with instructors at the PGA Tour type level. These guys got there because they are the best of their field. It’s like any other profession. There are great one’s, average, and below average people working in the field.
    My issue is that this ask “your PGA professional” is nonsense. They aren’t all nearly equal and most amateur instruction isn’t very good. Golf is hard. But, every instructor does it completely different. In general, the golf industry STINKS. The manufacturers are corrupt, their are no industry standards on club length, shaft, lofts, etc. They crank out 46″ driver shafts knowing full well that the average amateur has no business hitting a club that long. The shaft stiffness issues are beyond brutal. One stiff is another’s company’s senior flex. When you look at the lack of process in the golf industry, its no wonder the sport is shrinking.

  23. Mike

    Mar 23, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Sean Foley had Tiger hanging on his left side on the backswing. From that position you’d come down too steep so to avoid that Tiger would have to slide his hips to the left, we’ll outside of neutral joint alignment. That puts a lot of stress on his hip. But then the killer move was that Foley wanted Tiger’s spine rotated left way more than he ever has in his career. Plus Foley was big on using the ground for leverage. Haney tried to minimize how much down Tiger went on the downswing. Foley encouraged it. But in Tigers old swing he’d come into the ball with his shoulders more closed and release his hands and arms. But under Foley he was way more rotated to the left with a ton of hip slide to avoid being too steep and a lot of downward spine compression. If there is two things your back hates, it’s rotation and compression. Sean Foley is a claims to be a biomechanics expert, but he’s really not. He may have ended the career of the greatest player to ever live.

  24. sgniwder99

    Mar 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    “The media” = 2 guys

    • Mnmlist Golfr

      Mar 23, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Exactly. It’s a real stretch to call former touring pros “media.” As analysts and commentators, it’s their job to have opinions. Actual members of the media, i.e. reporters such as Rosaforte, have no opinion on instructors.

  25. Dennis Clark

    Mar 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    When you’re getting paid big bucks to talk into a microphone, ya gotta say something…Henry Longhurst is turning in his grave.

  26. cody

    Mar 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Wayne anyone who has watched your youtube channel knows that you dislike the announcers. So it is no surprise that you disagree with them. You should just come out and say it though. On another note, I Like your videos, they are great.

  27. TT X

    Mar 23, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Well written.
    I do find it amazing that Hank Haney has the Blue Print that can change your game within minutes for a minimum fee. Crazy for him to spend all that time with a number of players Romano, Barkley, Phelps and a few others and not give them the info….
    I really do like and agree with your article Wayne.
    The irony on the Haney project not helping over a long period of time and the Haney Blue Print helping instantly is hilarious.

  28. cody

    Mar 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    i think coaching is needed but not overhauling.

  29. RJ

    Mar 23, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Phenomenally written piece…. To those that blame too much technology on the non improvement of players at all levels. I hope your not reading this on a computer, cell phone or tablet.
    I am sick of the bashing of improvement attempts to climb higher in tour status, winning a club championship or just breaking 100. Talking head have to talk about something just like sitting in the “ole barber shop”. Without their input the would be jobless much to the chagrin of their wallets.
    As an instructor I have embraced technology but my students only get what I give them. My over thinkers/ engineers/ need to know all students get minimal information. If i dont bring it up…. I tell them not to think about! But if they come to me then they get instruction.

  30. juststeve

    Mar 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Wayne characterizes golf as a complex game, even unusually complex. I would way it is no more complex now than it was when Vardon and Jones and Hogan and Nicklaus learned to play it superbly. It has only been made to seem more complex by modern teachers. Much the shame.


    • RJ

      Mar 23, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      But what about those that were shooting 90’s and higher in the Jones, Hogan, Sneed, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Stewart, Woods era. If you ask them if it was complex, what would their answer be? My guess would be yes!

      • juststeve

        Mar 24, 2015 at 11:06 am

        People who shoot in the 90’s or higher are bound to think golf is complex, just like you though arithmetic was complex before you learned to do it. What the 90 shooter needs to learn is how to apply the club head squarely to the ball more often, not D-Plane.


    • Chuck

      Mar 24, 2015 at 12:09 am

      juststeve; You said it!

      I don’t think that Brandel Chamblee, Johnny Miller or any of the other critical observers of tour golf are criticizing golf instruction, per se. They are criticizing something that is rather new in golf — the omnipresent all-purpose swing guru. And you’re darned right that Nicklaus, Hogan, Trevino, Watson, Palmer, Casper, Player and Ballesteros never seemed to need a full-time swing guru.

      Jack Nicklaus got together with Jack Grout a couple times a year. Tom Watson worked with Byron Nelson very closely as a young player and then moved on.

      But this modern invention of a practically full-time Swing Coach (capital “S”, capital “C”) is weird, it has become so pervasive. Players are now seen as being somehow lazy or inattentive if they don’t have an entire staff of trainers, coaches and psychoanalysts putting them through their paces. Golf swing coaches are becoming like baseball managers, moving from team to team. Every team has to have one, and the championship winners are in demand.

  31. John

    Mar 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Once a guy can play, it really comes down to who has the better short game from 100 yds in. The question is how much instruction is too much for that guy to just play. Butch Harmon said there are roofers and house builders. Butch said he is a roofer who makes very slight changes (repairs the roof) while the builders tear down the whole house – that is where the probelm lies. I think there has to be a balance between the technical and just playing the shots. The computerization of the game both in lessons and equipment is interesting but maybe gone too far. I liked it better when my driver was simply 10.5, stiff, 44.5 inches – now I am bombarded with flex point, torque, ball speed, swing speed and adjustable wights and lie angle – too much to think about and I don’t hit it any better with an adjustable driver.

  32. Lazy

    Mar 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I think most of the golf talking heads are just lazy or too unintelligent to make the effort to learn new things. They are comfortable just repeating the same old stuff, even things that have been proven to be incorrect. Really, it’s their job to explore and learn all that is available in golf, and to golf, and relay that to the viewing public. The fact that they don’t just shows they are lazy and comfortable with the status quo. Lets petition for some new personalities that aren’t afraid to learn new things and disseminate that information.

  33. Mlecuni

    Mar 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    There is a big difference between how the subject of golf is treated on tv around the globe. In my country it’s more about golf itself and the history of golf rather than every aspects of the modern off the course life blabla thing that some commentators like to talk about. It’s quite frustating to see two swings ( without routine !) then have 10 minutes of nosense talking and then a commercial break.

    I would love, and i’m sure it will be available one day have the possibility to cut the tv comments and listen to the on course dialogues between players and caddies…. For 5 hours ! And to follow any team i want !

  34. Mike

    Mar 23, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    In every other sport players have a coach, not a mechanics guru. Coaches know how to get your best out of you. They don’t try to completely change you mechanics. A friend of mine was talking to a Hall of Fame pitcher about Tiger Woods and his swing changes and asked him if he’d ever tried to change his delivery. What do you think his answer was? He thought that was crazy. When Butch Harmon is with a player, I guarantee you it’s 95% coaching. That’s why Tiger left him. Tiger wanted more swing mechanics than Butch was willing to give him. Sean Foley absolutely ruined Tigers back and his game. No doubt about it.

    • Carlos Danger

      Mar 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Did your “friend” who talked to a HOF pitcher (always a great way to start a sentence) ask that said pitcher if he plays golf and if so if he has an instructor work on his mechanics?

      Im assuming you spoke to Tiger and he gave you that 95% statistic and also confirmed that was his leaving for leaving Butch? I assume this because you “guaranteed” us.

      I will also assume you are an Orthopedic Dr. and you ran extensive tests on Tigers back since you know that Foley “absolutely” ruined Tigers back?

    • Reality

      Mar 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Explain how Tiger could have so many injuries with his legs and yet you say it was Foley who ruined his back.

      Those leg injuries absolutely contributed to his back problems. In fact, his back probably started at Day 1, when he first realized he had a deficiency in his kinetic chain, and his body had to adjust.

      As someone who has been through leg and now the corresponding back pain because of the lack of strength and mobility those leg injuries cause, I have a pretty good understanding that you’re completely off base.

      But I guess when it comes to Tiger…reality really doesn’t need apply. Just as bad as the talking heads on TV.

  35. David

    Mar 23, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    The #2 player in the world doesn’t receive instruction and never has (though he is obviously a rare case). I 100% agree with the idea that today’s instruction is sacrificing “feel” and natural swing tendencies for statists and technology driven instruction. I don’t blame Foley for Tiger’s downfall, I blame Tiger for buying into “over-thinking” his swing and not just getting out and putting in the practice time to get HIS game back. Golf instructors are valuable tools, it’s incumbent upon the golfer to pick the right instructor to help them achieve their goals.

    • Carlos Danger

      Mar 23, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      It goes both ways. I use Baseball and Hockey as an example because those are the two sports I know.

      Ovechkin and Kershaw probably receive very little “mechanics” instruction because they are freaks of nature. Kershaw can make a baseball move like a whiffle ball without even thinking about it. Ovechkin can ice skate at full speed backers and then lean forward and hit a moving puck 95 mph into a 2 sq. inch target. Bubba can hit a 330 yd drive that draw 75 yards over tress and lands with back spin.
      These are things that an instructor CANNOT teach you. They are just freakish natural coordination abilities that very few human beings possess.

      Then there are the MLB pitchers that have never been able to throw the ball over 90mph, the hockey players that are slow and/or can not shoot hard, and golfers who can barely hit their driver 290 yds. These guys rely on mechanics and instruction. If they relied on “feel” they would never make it (whatever IT is).

      So to compare Bubba (I know thats not what your doing) to some of these guys who have instructors and are not performing and say its because of the instructor I think is not a fair assessment. However…have any of you watched Bubba on the course and not thought to yourself that guy could sure use a coach?

      • patricknorm

        Mar 23, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        I won’t question your baseball knowledge but I will challenge your poor understanding of hockey. My son played against Ovechkin from about 16 until about 25 years of age. Alex grew up with Dynamo Moscow which is a very intensive hockey and soccer program in Russia. I can assure you that all Russians received extensive technical training for hockey. I’ve met Alex a few times and he is a very strong man who practices his shot all the time. He is not the greatest skater but his style is very effective. Its wrong to suggest that elite athletes don’t receive technical training.

        • Carlos Danger

          Mar 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm

          Actually played college hockey…but I attempted to dumb it down because few people care or know much about hockey. And thank you for letting me know what country Alex grew up in, how strong he is, and that you met him one time. That cleared everything up for me.

          Ofcourse there is tons of instruction and mechanics taught to hockey players. Bigger point was that some players have freakish abilities and instincts that simply cant be taught. Lidstrom and Gretzky got plenty of instruction throughout their careers but no coach/instructor taught them to see the ice the way they did…that was just a natural ability they had which is what made the better than everyone else. You go on to say Ovechkin practices his shot all the time…duh. All athletes “practice.” The question here is about the level of instruction on the mechanics within the practice. My point was that a guy like Bubba and/or Ovechkin have natural abilities and are able to do things in their sport without having to be instructed to do so…while some other players/golfers do rely on that technical instruction.

    • Truth

      Mar 24, 2015 at 4:57 am

      apparently you havent heard many bubba at georgia stories…lets just say he had a little patrick reed in him then, eg. hes the best and no one could tell him what to do, from what i understand he was a bit of a handful

      • Captain Oblivious

        Mar 24, 2015 at 8:35 am

        Apparently, he didn’t need to be told what to do. I would bet that Bubba feels that he made the right choice by not listening to anyone else, especially when he looks in his closet at those two green jackets.

  36. TR1PTIK

    Mar 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I’d agree with the others who have mentioned the over-use of technology in golf instruction. However, it doesn’t seem like the guys on TV are making that distinction.
    There is a lot to be gained from golf instruction at any level and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve played or what your handicap is. ALMOST everyone can benefit from golf instruction with a certified pro – the rare cases being guys like Bubba Watson. Truthfully though, the right instruction could probably help Bubba with certain aspects of his game, but we’re just going to assume that his swing is far too unique for any instructor to be able to assist him. If nothing else, instructors are great source of information when trying to develop a better understanding of ball flight laws, swing mechanics, and so forth. I’ve had many discussions with my instructor that never involved a ball or club, but were just as useful if not more so.

  37. it's all about the ad dollars

    Mar 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    The golf media knows who feeds them and they cherry pick examples in the professional ranks to push their agenda (like stated above). Taken further; If you are taught to hit the ball better then you realize there is no need for new equipment unless it’s worn out or broken. My point for those who don’t get it and need it simplified; golf media doesn’t exist without advertising dollars. A large portion of that comes from equipment manufacturers. The more they can convince you that your problems are equipment based and not the way you move your body the better chance they have of making more sales. Golf media has a HUGE incentive for people to NOT improve because then they would loose advertising dollars.

  38. GGPRO

    Mar 23, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    The media in not harping on all instructors, just those that have re-invented the wheel via an over emphasis on technology. People make fun of Butch Harmon, he is a “dinosaur” and outdated because he uses his eyes and experience, not a Track Man to teach his players. His players produce under the most pressure packed circumstances because his information is sound, not some new flavor of the month. Butch uses video and Track Man at his facilities, but doesn’t rely on them to make an accurate diagnosis.
    I would hardly cl;assify Johnny Miller and Lanny Wadkins as players that have lost their status, they are Hall of Famer’s and even a player like Brandel had a good career playing. In addition, they have first hand knowledge of the pressures of tour golf and are highly qualified to make such judgments.

  39. Robert

    Mar 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    There is a huge difference between complaining about every coach and complaining about the coaches who use too much technology. I agree with the latter part. It seems like the last few years the technology has gotten amazing with golf and has taught us a lot of things about the why’s certain things happen with the golf club and, in turn, the golf ball.

    The problem is that a lot of coaches seem to be coming up with theories of how the golf swing should be in order to make all of the math numbers perfect when looking at the new technology. This is a problem. It’s a problem because the human body isn’t perfect and in order to get some of these perfect math swings, players are having to do things that they normally do not do or can’t do and it can cause a whole lot of problems.

    I think this is where a lot of the commentators are coming from. I totally understand that. There has to be a combination of the two. You can’t just try and build the perfect tech swing because humans are imperfect in their swings.

    • Rob

      Mar 29, 2015 at 12:40 am

      I agree, the technology creates a micro focus on how, not the result! It is the ultimate extension of don’t just show the answer, you must show how your work. Great for a math class, meaningless in sports. It allows doubt into a golfers mind, and that reduces the chance of success to luck.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work? Part 1



Of all the clubs in our bags, wedges are almost always the simplest in construction and, therefore, the easiest to analyze what might make one work differently from another if you know what to look for.

Wedges are a lot less mysterious than drivers, of course, as the major brands are working with a lot of “pixie dust” inside these modern marvels. That’s carrying over more to irons now, with so many new models featuring internal multi-material technologies, and almost all of them having a “badge” or insert in the back to allow more complex graphics while hiding the actual distribution of mass.

But when it comes to wedges, most on the market today are still single pieces of molded steel, either cast or forged into that shape. So, if you look closely at where the mass is distributed, it’s pretty clear how that wedge is going to perform.

To start, because of their wider soles, the majority of the mass of almost any wedge is along the bottom third of the clubhead. So, the best wedge shots are always those hit between the 2nd and 5th grooves so that more mass is directly behind that impact. Elite tour professionals practice incessantly to learn to do that consistently, wearing out a spot about the size of a penny right there. If impact moves higher than that, the face is dramatically thinner, so smash factor is compromised significantly, which reduces the overall distance the ball will fly.

Every one of us, tour players included, knows that maddening shot that we feel a bit high on the face and it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not your fault.

If your wedges show a wear pattern the size of a silver dollar, and centered above the 3rd or 4th groove, you are not getting anywhere near the same performance from shot to shot. Robot testing proves impact even two to three grooves higher in the face can cause distance loss of up to 35 to 55 feet with modern ‘tour design’ wedges.

In addition, as impact moves above the center of mass, the golf club principle of gear effect causes the ball to fly higher with less spin. Think of modern drivers for a minute. The “holy grail” of driving is high launch and low spin, and the driver engineers are pulling out all stops to get the mass as low in the clubhead as possible to optimize this combination.

Where is all the mass in your wedges? Low. So, disregarding the higher lofts, wedges “want” to launch the ball high with low spin – exactly the opposite of what good wedge play requires penetrating ball flight with high spin.

While almost all major brand wedges have begun putting a tiny bit more thickness in the top portion of the clubhead, conventional and modern ‘tour design’ wedges perform pretty much like they always have. Elite players learn to hit those crisp, spinny penetrating wedge shots by spending lots of practice time learning to consistently make contact low in the face.

So, what about grooves and face texture?

Grooves on any club can only do so much, and no one has any material advantage here. The USGA tightly defines what we manufacturers can do with grooves and face texture, and modern manufacturing techniques allow all of us to push those limits ever closer. And we all do. End of story.

Then there’s the topic of bounce and grinds, the most complex and confusing part of the wedge formula. Many top brands offer a complex array of sole configurations, all of them admittedly specialized to a particular kind of lie or turf conditions, and/or a particular divot pattern.

But if you don’t play the same turf all the time, and make the same size divot on every swing, how would you ever figure this out?

The only way is to take any wedge you are considering and play it a few rounds, hitting all the shots you face and observing the results. There’s simply no other way.

So, hopefully this will inspire a lively conversation in our comments section, and I’ll chime in to answer any questions you might have.

And next week, I’ll dive into the rest of the wedge formula. Yes, shafts, grips and specifications are essential, too.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Amazing Session with Performance Coach Savannah Meyer-Clement



In this week’s episode, we spent some time with performance coach Savannah Meyer-Clement who provides many useful insights that you’ll be able to implement on the golf course.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 RBC Heritage betting preview: Patrick Cantlay ready to get back inside winner’s circle



Just a two-hour drive from Augusta National, the PGA TOUR heads to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Hilton Head Island is a golfer’s paradise and Harbour Town is one of the most beautiful and scenic courses on the PGA TOUR.

Harbour Town Golf Links is a par-71 that measures 7,121 yards and features Bermuda grass greens. A Pete Dye design, the course is heavily tree lined and features small greens and many dog legs, protecting it from “bomb-and-gauge” type golfers.

The field is loaded this week with 69 golfers with no cut. Last year was quite possibly the best field in RBC Heritage history and the event this week is yet another designated event, meaning there is a $20 million prize pool.

Most of the big names on the PGA Tour will be in attendance this week with the exceptions of Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland. Additionally, Webb Simpson, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner have been granted sponsors exemptions. 

Past Winners at Harbour Town

  • 2023: Matt Fitzpatrick (-17)
  • 2022: Jordan Spieth (-13)
  • 2021: Stewart Cink (-19)
  • 2020: Webb Simpson (-22)
  • 2019: CT Pan (-12)
  • 2018: Sotoshi Kodaira (-12)
  • 2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
  • 2016: Branden Grace (-9)
  • 2015: Jim Furyk (-18)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Harbour Town

Let’s take a look at key metrics for Harbour Town Golf Links to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach is exceedingly important this week. The greens at Harbour Town are about half the size of PGA TOUR average and feature the second-smallest greens on the tour. Typical of a Pete Dye design, golfers will pay the price for missed greens.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.27)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.27)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.16)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+0.95)
  5. Cameron Young (+0.93)

Good Drive %

The fairways at Harbour Town are tree lined and feature many dog legs. Bombers tend to struggle at the course because it forces layups and doesn’t allow long drivers to overpower it. Accuracy is far more important than power.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (88.8%)
  2. Shane Lowry (+87.2%)
  3. Akshay Bhatia (+86.0%)
  4. Si Woo Kim (+85.8%)
  5. Sepp Straka (+85.1%)

Strokes Gained: Total at Pete Dye Designs

Pete Dye specialists tend to play very well at Harbour Town. Si Woo Kim, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson are all Pete Dye specialists who have had great success here. It is likely we see some more specialists near the top of the leaderboard this week.

SG: TOT Pete Dye per round over past 36 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.27)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.24)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+2.11)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.89)
  5. Sungjae Im (+1.58)

4. Strokes Gained: Short Game (Bermuda)

Strokes Gained: Short Game factors in both around the green and putting. With many green-side bunkers and tricky green complexes, both statistics will be important. Past winners — such as Jim Furyk, Wes Bryan and Webb Simpson — highlight how crucial the short game skill set is around Harbour Town.

SG: SG Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+1.11)
  2. Taylor Moore (+1.02)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+0.98)
  4. Mackenzie Hughes (+0.86)
  5. Andrew Putnam (+0.83)

5. Greens in Regulation %

The recipe for success at Harbour Town Golf Links is hitting fairways and greens. Missing either will prove to be consequential — golfers must be in total control of the ball to win.

Greens in Regulation % over past 24 rounds:

  1. Brice Garnett (+75.0%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+69.9%)
  3. Corey Conners (+69.0%)
  4. Shane Lowry (+68.3%)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+67.6%)

6. Course History

Harbour Town is a course where players who have strong past results at the course always tend to pop up. 

Course History over past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.34)
  2. Cam Davis (+2.05)
  3. J.T. Poston (+1.69)
  4. Justin Rose (+1.68)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.59)

The RBC Heritage Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (24%), Good Drives (20%), SG: SG (14%), SG: Pete Dye (14%), GIR (14%), and Course History (14%)

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Russell Henley
  3. Scottie Scheffler
  4. Xander Schauffele
  5. Corey Conners 
  6. Wyndham Clark
  7. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  8. Matt Fitzpatrick
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Ludvig Aberg 

2024 RBC Heritage Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2000 (FanDuel)

With the exception of Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour has yet to have any of their star players show peak form during the 2024 season. Last week, Patrick Cantlay, who I believe is a top-5 players on the PGA Tour, took one step closer to regaining the form that’s helped him win eight events on Tour since 2017.

Cantlay limped into the Masters in poor form, but figured it out at Augusta National, finishing in a tie for 20th and ranking 17th for the week in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. The former FedEx Cup champion will now head to one of his favorite golf courses in Harbour Town, where he’s had immaculate results over the years. In his six trips to the course, he’s only finished worse than 7th one time. The other finishes include three third places (2017, 2019, 2023) and one runner-up finish (2022). In his past 36 rounds at Harbour Town, Cantlay ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Total per round at the course by a wide margin (+2.36).

Cantlay is winless since the 2022 BMW Championship, which is far too long for a player of his caliber. With signs pointing to the 32-year-old returning to form, a “signature event” at Harbour Town is just what he needs to get back on the winning track.

Tommy Fleetwood +3000 (FanDuel)

I truly believe Tommy Fleetwood will figure out a way to win on American soil in 2024. It’s certainly been a bugaboo for him throughout his career, but he is simply too talented to go another season without winning a PGA Tour event.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, Fleetwood made a Sunday charge and ended up finishing T3 in the event, which was his best ever finish at The Masters. For the week, the Englishman ranked 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 10th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is a perfect layout for Fleetwood, and he’s had relative success at this Pete Dye design in the past.  In his four trips to the course, he’s finished inside of the top 25 three times, with his best finish, T10, coming in 2022. The course is pretty short and can’t be overpowered, which gives an advantage to more accurate players such as Fleetwood. Tommy ranks 8th in the field in Good Drive % and should be able to plot his way along this golf course.

The win is coming for Tommy lad. I believe there’s a chance this treasure of a golf course may be the perfect one for him to finally break through on Tour.

Cameron Young +3300 (FanDuel)

Cameron Young had a solid Masters Tournament last week, which is exactly what I’m looking for in players who I anticipate playing well this week at the RBC Heritage. He finished in a tie for 9th, but never felt the pressure of contending in the event. For the week, Young ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Despite being one of the longest players off the tee on the PGA Tour, Young has actually played some really good golf on shorter tracks. He finished T3 at Harbour Town in 2023 and ranks 20th in the field in Good Drive% and 16th in Greens in Regulation in his past 24 rounds. He also has strong finishes at other shorter courses that can take driver out of a players hand such as Copperhead and PGA National.

Young is simply one of the best players on the PGA Tour in 2024, and I strongly believe has what it takes to win a PGA Tour event in the very near future.

Corey Conners +5500 (FanDuel)

Corey Conners has had a disappointing year thus far on the PGA Tour, but absolutely loves Harbour Town.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, the Canadian finished T30 but ranked 20th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. In his past 24 rounds, Conners ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 3rd in Greens in Regulation % and 24th in Good Drive %.

In Conners’ last four trips to Harbour Town, his worst finish was T31, last season. He finished T4 in 2021, T12 in 2022 and ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Total at the course over his past 36 rounds.

Conners hasn’t been contending, but his recent finishes have been encouraging as he has finished in the top-25 in each of his past three starts prior to The Masters, including an impressive T13 at The PLAYERS. His recent improvement in ball striking as well as his suitability for Harbour Town makes Conners a high upside bet this week.

Shane Lowry (+7500) (FanDuel)

When these odds were posted after Lowry was announced in the field, I have to admit I was pretty stunned. Despite not offering much win equity on the PGA Tour over the last handful of years, Shane Lowry is still a top caliber player who has the ability to rise to the top of a signature event.

Lowry struggled to score at The Masters last week, but he actually hit the ball really well. The Irishman ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approach on the week and 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. As usual, it was the putter that let him down, as he ranked 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is most definitely one of Lowry’s favorite courses on the PGA Tour. In his six starts there, he’s finished in the top 10 three times, including third twice. Lowry is sensational at Pete Dye designs and ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds on Dye tracks. 

Lowry is perfect for Harbour Town. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 2nd in Good Drive% and 5th in Green in Regulation %. If he figures it out on the greens, Shane could have his first win in America since 2015.

Lucas Glover +12000 (FanDuel)

This is one of my weekly “bet the number” plays as I strongly believe the odds are just too long for a player of Glover’s caliber. The odds have been too long on Glover for a few weeks now, but this is the first event that I can get behind the veteran being able to actually contend at. 

Glover is quietly playing good golf and returning to the form he had after the understandable regression after his two massive victories at the end of 2023. He finished T20 at The Masters, which was his best ever finish at Augusta National. For the week, Lucas ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 20th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Over his past 24 rounds, Glover ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th in Good Drive %. Harbour Town is a short course that the 44-year-old will be able to keep up with the top players on Tour off the tee. He’s played the course more than 20 times, with mixed results. His best finishes at Harbour Town include a T7 in 2008, but recently has a finish of T21 in 2020.

Glover has proven he can contend with the stars of the Tour on any given week, and this number is flat out disrespectful.

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