Part 2 of 7 of the Classic Golf Channel Interview with Tiger Woods and Butch Harmon
– Won the 1971 D.C Open
– From 1972.’74 served as the personal instructor to King Hassan II of Morocco
– Students include:
Mark Calcavecchia, Darren Clarke and Tiger Woods.
PETER: Welcome back. What are you working on?
BUTCH: Well, I’ll let Tiger explain it to you. More than anything he’s done a lot of work since you won the Master’s three years ago from a swing that we thought pretty good then; and we realized wouldn’t work good for longevity. Why don’t you take them through what you’ve done?
TIGER: Okay, let’s see. You’ve changed my left hand grip – made it a little bit weaker. We’ve – what do you call it – narrowed my stance a little bit. Tried to get the club a little earlier. Keep the club head infront of my hands a little bit longer, going back higher right arm; then from there round of the left arm making it a little flatter at the top – left wrist. Left arm a little higher then from there, get the club down in front of me. From there, I can arc it off with a little bit of a bow of my left hand. Then I sharp and follow through.
PETER: What does ‘arc it off’ mean?
TIGER: The swing point is on an arc and what you want to do is just have it come down on the same arc as you…it’s a little bit more inside as versus your back swing. But still, you want to feel like you come down and the bottom of the arc is right where the ball is – not before that, not after that.
BUTCH: So a lot of the changes you see that Tiger’s made, and he had to get stronger to make them – he really has. What are you? You’re about 20 pound heavier now than when you first came on tour?
TIGER: Yeah, I came on the tour at 158 and now I’m 180.
BUTCH: Yeah, so he’s really worked out and got stronger and that’s allowed you to do the things that you’ve worked on.
TIGER: No doubt about it.
BUTCH: Let’s take a setup here. We’ll take a little bit about your Takeaway. We were trying to get the club, what you feel a little earlier of his set. And the key here is just to keep the right arm higher than the left. So many people get this club as you do when you were younger, tucked in on the inside, and then when you go to the top of your swing probably the biggest change that’s Tiger’s made is he’s really tried to get his hands infront of himself coming down. In other words, arms infront of the body, where the club used to lay down somehow, in the old swing used to get stuck.
TIGER: The ‘ole swing?’
BUTCH: Yes [laughs]
TIGER: You go ‘ole!’
PETER: That’s the way lay to shaft down 16th tee players championships, right?
TIGER: Yeah, and that’s just because I’m a product of being a Junior Golfer. All Junior Golfer’s par their hips hard; get the club stuck from the inside so they can flip it – hit the ball long ways. Yeah you hit the ball long ways but it’s hard to control. And under the gun, a lot of pressure on yourself it’s really hard to hit the ball a specific distance with the correct shape.
BUTCH: But a normal swing now with your Driver, how much shorter do you feel you are than in 96 when you turned Pro off the tee? With a normal swing – not trying to really hit hard.
TIGER: Probably a good…ten to twelve-fifteen yards.
BUTCH: To make the changes that he needed to make, and to get more accurate, as he told you in our last segment because his goal is to lease the tour and drive in accuracy which would be an incredible feat with his length. He’s had to give up some of the distance and giving up the distance doesn’t mean it’s still not in there because you still got that thirty/forty yards you can hit.
TIGER: I can still hit the ball atleast a good thirty when I want to. But, the problem is I don’t hit the ball, obviously, as accurately. When I really want to step on one, I’ll probably like increase it by twenty yards.
PETER: How touch was it to get the arm swing shorter and in-sync – so you really trust it like you do now.
TIGER: No…we had so many golf balls. The drill absolutely I could not stand. I still can’t stand.
PETER: Let’s see it then.
TIGER: Is that take the club up to the top, and stop and then come down and hit the shot. And this is a drill that he made me do for hours upon hours and we’re out there sweating. It’s hundred degrees out there.
PETER: You were sweating.
TIGER: Well we were both working pretty hard but the thing is it’s just something I need to do to feel where he wanted me to put it; and then from there let the arms fall down in front of you.
BUTCH: The whole key was to get the club in a position at the top where he just felt as he transferred his weight, his arms would fall down infront of him. Now to get that feeling, and this is good for the average golfer who’s watching and here’s a guy who’s the best player in the world who hits more balls than anybody on the planet and it’s taken him over a year to feel comfortable with that, hitting thousands of balls. Where the recreational golfer takes one lesson for thirty minutes from their local PGA Pro and they just figure they got it. That they’ve got I made by doing that. And so, this tells you how hard you have to work at this game. This man works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. Greg Norman, when I worked with him, was the hardest worker I’d ever seen until Tiger came along, and he works harder than even Greg did. And to be good at any level, you have to put in the time and you have to work because he said he hated that drill. When we used to do that drill he goes ‘oh, o. you’re not going to make me do that again?’ I said ‘yes, we haven’t got it. You’re going to do it until you get it’
BUTCH: ‘Gosh Butchy, I hate you when you make me do this’ [laughs]
TIGER: Well, it’s such a frustrating drill because obviously you don’t have the power. But more than anything – you can’t cheat. You can fake it in a real swing in the real speed, but you can’t fake it at that speed. When you take it upto the top, stop, then go – there’s no faking it.
PETER: When you do the go, is it you’re really working hard to allow the arms to fall down and leaving this stable?
TIGER: For me, I’ve always been a person who’d come down and fire the hips so hard and so fast that obviously the club would lag behind me. But you wouldn’t tell most golfers this is to try and for me, when I try to feel that my arms beat my body down. I try to feel like my arms come down first and exit through the ball first, while my hips don’t move. That’s for me.
PETER: That’s the feeling…
TIGER: That’s the feeling I have. It doesn’t even come close to that, obviously I’m more like this to impact. But for me, it feels like, obviously my arms are winning the race and my body’s not popping out of the golf shot. I used to have a problem while bringing the club down like this, then also popping out of my body and my spine angle would change and I’d chase my right hand. That’s the shot I had and I still have it every once in a while.
PETER: A lot of people at home have that shot too.
BUTCH: Well, they don’t have is at a hundred and fifty miles per hour [laughs] like he does – that’s for sure. Well really now, he tries to hold his hips and get his arms infront of his hip motion. Whereof if we told an average person that they do that all the time, they’d be staying back here and just throwing their hands out and never hit. And like he says, that’s a feeling and the one thing Tiger and I talk about all the time is that ‘feel’ and ‘real’ are not the same thing. What you feel you’re doing, you’re very seldom doing.
TIGER: True, very true.
PETER: What kind of tension do you feel in you lower body as you setup to the ball? How are you lax versus not is the feeling the athletic readiness kind of a sense.
TIGER: To be honest with you Peter, I just setup my eye and just go. I mean, I’m being dead honest. I don’t feel like I’m trying to put more weight on the balls of my feet, more weight on my side or my left side. I just get to position where I feel comfortable or whatever shot I see that I want to play. Because I play alto by feel. When I’m out there sometimes I’d feel. Some days, I’d like to try and hit a cut or close my stance that day – which is completely the opposite but that’s what I feel is going to work best that day. I play a lot on the moment and then I just play my feel of what my hands and my body are telling me.
BUTCH: Addressing that position, the thing we work on the most is really your spine angle posture.
TIGER: that’s something we work on very hard: trying to keep my spine straight because I have a tendency of getting a little slumped over and then from there I like to touch the club inside.
BUTCH: What’s all the difference? Take a setup where you’re out of position where you get a little slumped in, the head down a little. What happens now, he’s going to have to come up to hit this ball.
TIGER: And not only that, I also take the club inside too.
BUTCH: It usually always goes inside. Now take your good posture. You can see the chin gets up, the back is much straighter if we look at this position right here. You can see there’s a lot of room from his chin and his chest – this just allows the right shoulder to get underneath the chin. What people don’t realize is that Tiger and I work on this all the time – especially when you’re in my studio in Vegas, is that so many things take place before you hit the ball it causes you to make bad swings and the average player never even thinks about that. We’re always talking about posture, ball position…
TIGER: You name it – it has to do with just the setup and how to get aligned.
PETER: When we come back from this break, we’ve got some tape of Tiger hitting wedges last year at Firestone and wedges at Pebble this year. And there were differences between those that you two will point out and we’ll look at that in just a moment. And here’s Tiger on the 7th hole with Augusta National last Sunday with wedge in his hand and as you can see, this one ends up right next to the hole. We’ll find out how he does it – when we come back.