Whiffle: verb – to blow lightly in puffs or gusts; noun – something light or insignificant.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tiger and Sir Charles

It has occurred to me recently that two very different golfers are working on swing changes at the same time I am: Tiger Woods and Charles Barkley.
     Tiger's quest is well-documented. He is working on the third major swing change (and thus the fourth different swing) of his career, with new teacher Sean Foley. His struggles are obvious, as he continues to confound the experts with his wild swings between brilliant and ordinary (and occasionally downright ugly) golf. It's been interesting to listen as commentators talk about how he is still occasionally reverting to his old swing habits, especially under pressure. His struggles reinforce how difficult it is to "unlearn" deeply ingrained habits. This is especially amazing when you consider how many hours and resources Tiger has no doubt poured into trying to groove his new swing. He remains very much a work in progress. (A new interview with Sean Foley is here.)
     Charles Barkley's struggles are also well known; even Hank Haney couldn't permanently fix the amazing and amusing massive hitch in his golf swing. So rather than continue to try to fight it, Sir Charles is reportedly (according to numerous sources, including Haney himself) learning to play left-handed. Yes, that's right. Just like The Whiffler.
     His new backhanded swing, however, is apparently not yet ready for prime time, so he continues to play his public rounds right-handed. Meanwhile, he reports that playing lefty has helped him enjoy the game again in a way he hasn't been able to since the full-swing yips first set in.
     Will he be successful making the switch? Based on my own experience so far, my guess is "yes" – so long as he's willing to put in the work. Based on the video evidence below, he still has a ways to go.

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