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Posts Tagged ‘Sean Foley’

Darkness and Light

The Masters is magical.  The Augusta National Golf Club always has their course in pristine condition for Mr. Jones’ grand old tournament.  The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom and are gorgeous against the dark green hues of Georgia pines and freshly leafed deciduous trees and the closely mown fairways and putting greens.  The club membership rules the media with an iron fist, allowing only a certain number of minutes of advertising during each hour of telecasting.  The media adores the venue as they provide grand music on intros and exits and creative graphics and flowery words from color commentators, former players, and past champions.  Fans migrate to this special shining place in Georgia every year, and while it costs a mortgage payment to attend, once there the sites are profound, the food and drink is famously delicious and inexpensive, and the access to golf’s great past and present is awesome for the crowd who gather outside of the ropes.  It is golf’s Mecca.

But, as we stroll through the heavenly gates of this paradise and absorb the intended greatness and beauty we see an occasional dark smoky shadow pass through as profanity and ill-behavior come to the fore.  We watch in awe and wonder as one of the greatest golfers of all time goes to battle with the golf course, then wretch back instantly in revulsion when this same golfer spits a venomous God Damn It or throws his club and kicks it with disgust!  And we wonder, “Was I the only one to hear that? Was I the only one to see that?” as the commentators, former players, and past champions go on as if nothing happened.  Like a rotten seed in a bowl of rice, this warrior’s behavior belies the acts of a knight doing battle.  It is more recognizable as the rants of a frustrated toddler.  How do we cheer for this knight, rising from the depths of personal shame?  How do we enjoy his moments of brilliance when they are tainted with a continuing color of vulgarity and offensiveness?  We want to so badly, but he poisons his own well of greatness.  He is searching, that is clear.  It is not his golf swing that needs repair, but his soul.  The swing coaches of the world cannot help, others watching his motion cannot comment, he must look through his image in the mirror and find the real problems and seek to repair them.

Like King Arthur, we have come to both love and hate this bright knight Lancelot.  We abhor the darkness yet empathize and remain optimistic for his return to greatness and purity.

There are other dark clouds that waft around and through this mecca as well, they are waning, but still present and will be the subject of later discourse.

Golf Coaches and Owning Your Swing

Everyone is covering the “clash of the coaches.”  That is, the Sean Foley and Hank Haney thing.  But it is more than those two really, it’s also Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller, and I guess you could say Jack Nicklaus.  Lots of people are commenting on Tiger Woods’ difficulties and decision to retool his game at this point in his career, a third retooling I believe.  It is getting to the he said, they said place and is ridiculous.  Some are coming off as rich arrogant a-holes with more identity pride than common sense. 

But lets move past the “Tiger thing” for a moment and talk a little about swing coaches in general.  As quoted in the 28 March GolfWorld, Nicklaus talked about his teacher, Jack Grout, and his hands off approach during tournament prep and play. Grout believed and Nicklaus followed that a golfer needed to be in charge of his own swing.  He also referred to commentary received from Bobby Jones that “he only reached his potential after being less reliant on teacher Stewart Maiden.”  Also in the 28 March edition of GolfWorld, Jack Burke Jr.  commented in an unrelated story that  “I don’t think you can do anything well if you don’t teach it….A lot of the kids on the tour nowadays hire instructors, so they aren’t really thinking for themselves about their technique and how to improve.  They don’t trust themselves, and when things start going badly, they have nowhere to turn.  In the middle of a round, they can’t call their coach to come over and give them a tip…if the young fellas on tour now had some teaching experience, they could stand for themselves and be richer for it.  Ben Hogan didn’t have an instructor.  Neither did Byron Nelson or any of us from our generation.”  There is some old school wisdom for you.

I don’t know about instructing per se, but owning your own swing is something a pro had to do in those days, now many seem to delegate the responsibility to someone else.  Now back to Tiger – the question is however, how much is Tiger Woods “in charge of his own golf swing?”  How much influence do the swing gurus have on his changes when he changes?  Everyone knows that its helpful to have the right set of eyes on you and reinforcing commentary when tinkering with a swing.  (Although, Ben Hogan would tell you the flight of the ball says all you need to know.)  But, this is Tiger Woods and I believe he is in complete charge.  He is human and requires support and the expert set of eyes, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that he is a “product” of Harmon, Haney, or now Foley.   The problem I see here is not the coach, but the stuff between Tiger’s ears.  He seems to be on an ever present quest for perfection.  I am not sure that is not a Don Quixote endeavor, but it is in a way brave of him to  make the changes.  I’d like to see him chill out a little and have fun with his swing and his game.  I think he – and we – would be better for it.