Golf Digest Videos

The Miracle of Tiger Woods' Golf Swing

Experts Break Down Tiger Woods’ Post-Injury Swing

Released on 4/2/2018

Transcript

00:00
(ominous music)
00:04
[Announcer] Over the course of two decade
00:05
professional career, Tiger Woods
00:07
has mastered the art of reinvention.
00:13
More impressive than Woods' career win total
00:16
is that he's done it while employing a
00:17
handful of different swings as a pro.
00:20
He's also contended with injuries
00:22
that have required multiple surgeries
00:23
and months of rehabilitation.
00:25
But his recent spinal fusion was the
00:27
most ambitious attempt yet to salvage his career.
00:31
The fact that he's emerged from it again
00:33
as a competitive golfer, speaks to his
00:35
most impressive reinvention yet.
00:37
I think the genius of Tiger Woods is
00:39
his ability to use these different golf swings,
00:42
and to make them work.
00:44
After serious back surgery, most players can't do that.
00:48
Someone like Tiger, when he hits a golf ball,
00:51
he uses the ground.
00:52
He presses down on the ground and the
00:54
ground then generates forces upwards.
00:57
That force then, gets transferred to the club through
01:00
this particular sequence and kinematic pathway.
01:03
So it goes through the big toe, through the ankle,
01:05
through the lower leg, through the thigh, into the hip.
01:08
And from the hip and the pelvis,
01:10
it gets transferred to the spine.
01:12
Initially, the lower spine, the lumbar spine,
01:14
and then to the thoracic spine.
01:15
And from there, it gets spread through the ribs,
01:18
through the collar bone and the shoulder blade, to the arm.
01:21
And from the arm, it gets spread to the forearm,
01:24
to the wrist, to the hand, to the club itself,
01:27
down the shaft and to the club head
01:29
which then imparts that force started
01:31
all the way down on the ground to the ball.
01:33
And that's how you create speed through the ball.
01:36
And that's important to understand because,
01:38
the injury patterns will follow where the forces flow.
01:43
[Announcer] For a player renowned for
01:44
logging hours in the gym, and who has made
01:46
golf look more athletic than ever,
01:48
Woods' body has betrayed him over the last decade.
01:51
He's had multiple knee surgeries,
01:53
tears in both Achilles, a broken tibia.
01:55
He's withdrawn from tournaments because of a bum wrist,
01:58
because of tingling down his right side, and for elbow pain.
02:02
But it wasn't until Woods' back failed him
02:04
that his career truly seemed in jeopardy.
02:06
These are all patterns consistent with
02:08
the body trying to cope with the amount
02:10
of force that that man can generate.
02:12
And the back will compensate for a lot of things.
02:15
So here I have a jelly donut, right?
02:17
The disk is very much similar to this.
02:21
It's got a harder outer covering,
02:23
and a gelatinous, gooey central part.
02:27
When there's a tear here and the gel starts leaking out
02:30
on the side, that's called a disk herniation.
02:34
Typically in golfers, it involves the lumbar spine.
02:36
It's the lower part, and it touches one of these nerves,
02:39
which then become very painful and irritated
02:41
and this pain can go all the way down your leg.
02:44
The surgery is done to remove that jelly
02:47
part that leaked out to take the pressure off the nerve.
02:50
And surprisingly, he then had a second
02:52
procedure to take the pressure off that nerve.
02:55
Finally though, the disk had collapsed to
02:58
a point where the bones were actually
03:01
very close to each other.
03:03
So the procedure that he had done,
03:05
which is called an Anterior Interbody Lumbar Fusion,
03:08
which basically means they went through the front,
03:10
they took this out and put an artificial disk
03:13
in there and allowed the space to be recreated
03:18
to maintain the height and also take the pressure off
03:21
the nerves which was causing a lot of his suffering.
03:24
An average person who had this, they will not be
03:27
able to hit a golf ball for best part of a year.
03:31
The fact that he's come back this quickly and able to
03:33
generate the speed that he's doing right now
03:36
is a testimony for as to how strong he is.
03:40
[Announcer] The string of injuries combined with a
03:41
golfer's endless pursuit of improvement has
03:44
lead to a series of dramatic alterations to his swing.
03:48
What I've seen in Tiger's swing is a
03:50
powerful golf swing that's very smooth.
03:53
It looks free and sometimes, it has not looked that way.
03:58
It's looked tight.
03:59
There's some things that really look great to me.
04:01
One, is the wider stance.
04:03
The ball is placed almost off his left toe,
04:05
and he's purposely playing the ball more forward
04:08
so he can hit the ball more on the upswing,
04:10
and that's the most powerful way to hit a golf ball.
04:13
It's high launch, low spin.
04:15
It's another interesting thing to look at,
04:17
is his spine tilt away from the target.
04:19
His head is placed three or four inches
04:21
behind the golf ball so he's set up to
04:23
stay behind it and to smash long drives.
04:26
So on the backswing, you can see his
04:28
right arm leave his side.
04:29
A floating right arm for width.
04:31
He goes into a flexed left knee so that
04:34
it goes right over the top of his left foot.
04:37
Then he kept his height better starting down.
04:39
He makes a great transition move.
04:41
He sits into the ground and then a free arm swing
04:44
where he went so freely through that the club
04:48
actually bounced off his neck.
04:49
So tremendous speed going through the golf swing,
04:52
and then into a really nice straight balanced finish
04:55
which I think is definitely taking pressure off his back.
05:00
(upbeat music)
05:01
[Announcer] In 2018, Tiger's swing speed has been
05:03
measured as high as 129 miles per hour,
05:07
which is remarkable for anyone, let alone a 42 year old,
05:10
coming off of multiple back surgeries.
05:13
Some of that is a byproduct of natural talent and fitness.
05:16
But also, Woods is finally embracing modern technology.
05:20
This is a guy who for years was playing steel shafts,
05:22
small club heads, non-adjustable drivers.
05:25
Wouldn't even consider it.
05:27
Fast forward to today, Tiger's using a TaylorMade
05:30
M3 driver that has the most adjustability of any
05:33
club out there and he's taking advantage of it.
05:36
By optimizing the swing and optimizing
05:38
the condition of his driver, that's allowing him to
05:41
stay up there with the Dustin Johnson's,
05:43
the Rory McIlroy's, the John Rahm's of the world.
05:46
It took 'im a while to get to it,
05:48
but he's finally learned that you can't
05:50
fight the equipment, he's gotta work with it.
05:53
Sometimes with athletes, a level of pain in inevitable.
05:57
Right?
05:58
But suffering is not something you'd bestow on anybody.
06:03
So, do I think he's suffering?
06:05
Certainly not.
06:05
He looks much calmer, much happier, much freer.
06:08
I think Tiger's playing as pain free as he possibly can.
06:13
[Announcer] The early indications from Woods'
06:15
latest swing changes is he's defied the odds
06:18
and reinvented himself successfully once again.
06:21
But there is still a question of whether his body
06:23
and his game can hold up long term.
06:26
No golfer is immune to the ravages of time.
06:29
Although, if anyone is up to the challenge,
06:31
it might be Tiger Woods.
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