Tiger Woods was ranked No. 1 in strokes gained approaching the green, gaining almost a full shot (.938) on the field due to his iron play. Woods has always been one of the best from the fairway into the greens and at his peak, he was the best.
The swing we saw this year — post back surgery — has had to change and adapt to his limitations. Despite these changes, we still saw vintage Tiger iron shots and even some vintage Tiger Sundays with close calls at multiple majors and the hard work culminating in the form of a win at the Tour Championship.
If the best player ever (arguably) needs to change and adapt to a swing as his body ages and incurs injury, then most amateurs should be prepared to do the same. Here are some of the key factors Tiger has changed and improved to allow for the best body motion in his current physical condition.
Open Your Trail Foot
- In the past, we have seen Tiger with a very square stance for a standard iron shot with both toes pointing at a right angle to the target line. Now, Tiger has allowed for his trail foot, his right foot, to open and flare relative to the target line. By doing this, his hips are free to rotate on the backswing and furthermore, this aids in his effort to move off the ball slightly. As we watch the video, we notice the right pocket moving back and up, this is a great sign he has engaged the lower body. This is perfect for a player that due to injury or other circumstances has trouble rotating on the backswing. Freeing up the lower body will allow the upper body to perform better as well.
- Instructors will often mention posture and avoiding early extension. Amateurs can benefit from simply staying tall during the swing or maintaining their height/playing level. Watch Tiger as he begins the transition from the top and through impact. There is a slight drop, but from waist-high to waist-high the level of his head is maintained. The issues that plague the weekend warrior stem from a severe change in height, most often a lift on the way back and a big drop into the hitting zone on the way into impact. This does many things to compromise body motion and impact. By practicing staying and playing tall, you can avoid the vertical changes in your swing and improve contact.
There are many minute technical changes Tiger has made, but these two factors can definitely help players that are working through limitations in mobility, but still want to improve their game.