The Miracle of Tiger Woods' Golf Swing
Experts Break Down Tiger Woods’ Post-Injury Swing
Released on 4/2/2018
[Announcer] Over the course of two decade
professional career, Tiger Woods
has mastered the art of reinvention.
More impressive than Woods' career win total
is that he's done it while employing a
handful of different swings as a pro.
He's also contended with injuries
that have required multiple surgeries
and months of rehabilitation.
But his recent spinal fusion was the
most ambitious attempt yet to salvage his career.
The fact that he's emerged from it again
as a competitive golfer, speaks to his
most impressive reinvention yet.
I think the genius of Tiger Woods is
his ability to use these different golf swings,
and to make them work.
After serious back surgery, most players can't do that.
Someone like Tiger, when he hits a golf ball,
he uses the ground.
He presses down on the ground and the
ground then generates forces upwards.
That force then, gets transferred to the club through
this particular sequence and kinematic pathway.
So it goes through the big toe, through the ankle,
through the lower leg, through the thigh, into the hip.
And from the hip and the pelvis,
it gets transferred to the spine.
Initially, the lower spine, the lumbar spine,
and then to the thoracic spine.
And from there, it gets spread through the ribs,
through the collar bone and the shoulder blade, to the arm.
And from the arm, it gets spread to the forearm,
to the wrist, to the hand, to the club itself,
down the shaft and to the club head
which then imparts that force started
all the way down on the ground to the ball.
And that's how you create speed through the ball.
And that's important to understand because,
the injury patterns will follow where the forces flow.
[Announcer] For a player renowned for
logging hours in the gym, and who has made
golf look more athletic than ever,
Woods' body has betrayed him over the last decade.
He's had multiple knee surgeries,
tears in both Achilles, a broken tibia.
He's withdrawn from tournaments because of a bum wrist,
because of tingling down his right side, and for elbow pain.
But it wasn't until Woods' back failed him
that his career truly seemed in jeopardy.
These are all patterns consistent with
the body trying to cope with the amount
of force that that man can generate.
And the back will compensate for a lot of things.
So here I have a jelly donut, right?
The disk is very much similar to this.
It's got a harder outer covering,
and a gelatinous, gooey central part.
When there's a tear here and the gel starts leaking out
on the side, that's called a disk herniation.
Typically in golfers, it involves the lumbar spine.
It's the lower part, and it touches one of these nerves,
which then become very painful and irritated
and this pain can go all the way down your leg.
The surgery is done to remove that jelly
part that leaked out to take the pressure off the nerve.
And surprisingly, he then had a second
procedure to take the pressure off that nerve.
Finally though, the disk had collapsed to
a point where the bones were actually
very close to each other.
So the procedure that he had done,
which is called an Anterior Interbody Lumbar Fusion,
which basically means they went through the front,
they took this out and put an artificial disk
in there and allowed the space to be recreated
to maintain the height and also take the pressure off
the nerves which was causing a lot of his suffering.
An average person who had this, they will not be
able to hit a golf ball for best part of a year.
The fact that he's come back this quickly and able to
generate the speed that he's doing right now
is a testimony for as to how strong he is.
[Announcer] The string of injuries combined with a
golfer's endless pursuit of improvement has
lead to a series of dramatic alterations to his swing.
What I've seen in Tiger's swing is a
powerful golf swing that's very smooth.
It looks free and sometimes, it has not looked that way.
It's looked tight.
There's some things that really look great to me.
One, is the wider stance.
The ball is placed almost off his left toe,
and he's purposely playing the ball more forward
so he can hit the ball more on the upswing,
and that's the most powerful way to hit a golf ball.
It's high launch, low spin.
It's another interesting thing to look at,
is his spine tilt away from the target.
His head is placed three or four inches
behind the golf ball so he's set up to
stay behind it and to smash long drives.
So on the backswing, you can see his
right arm leave his side.
A floating right arm for width.
He goes into a flexed left knee so that
it goes right over the top of his left foot.
Then he kept his height better starting down.
He makes a great transition move.
He sits into the ground and then a free arm swing
where he went so freely through that the club
actually bounced off his neck.
So tremendous speed going through the golf swing,
and then into a really nice straight balanced finish
which I think is definitely taking pressure off his back.
[Announcer] In 2018, Tiger's swing speed has been
measured as high as 129 miles per hour,
which is remarkable for anyone, let alone a 42 year old,
coming off of multiple back surgeries.
Some of that is a byproduct of natural talent and fitness.
But also, Woods is finally embracing modern technology.
This is a guy who for years was playing steel shafts,
small club heads, non-adjustable drivers.
Wouldn't even consider it.
Fast forward to today, Tiger's using a TaylorMade
M3 driver that has the most adjustability of any
club out there and he's taking advantage of it.
By optimizing the swing and optimizing
the condition of his driver, that's allowing him to
stay up there with the Dustin Johnson's,
the Rory McIlroy's, the John Rahm's of the world.
It took 'im a while to get to it,
but he's finally learned that you can't
fight the equipment, he's gotta work with it.
Sometimes with athletes, a level of pain in inevitable.
But suffering is not something you'd bestow on anybody.
So, do I think he's suffering?
He looks much calmer, much happier, much freer.
I think Tiger's playing as pain free as he possibly can.
[Announcer] The early indications from Woods'
latest swing changes is he's defied the odds
and reinvented himself successfully once again.
But there is still a question of whether his body
and his game can hold up long term.
No golfer is immune to the ravages of time.
Although, if anyone is up to the challenge,
it might be Tiger Woods.