Dear Mr. Woods,
I have watched, with great interest, the intense work you have done on your golf swing since your conversion from the upright arm swing of your youth, to the flatter more rotary arm swing you have used so successfully the past few years. I hope you will accept the following observations in the spirit they are intended. They are the observations of a Nike staffer who would like to see your game return to the high standards you have set over your career.
First, I want to say that I applaud the changes you have made in your swing. I watched you as a young man trying to hold back the rotation of your lower body until you could get your arms back in front of your chest. As athletic as you are, it always looked like you were holding back, even though you were moving faster than everyone else. For what it is worth it certainly made sense to me that you decided you would improve using a swing plane that required the hips and legs to move first in the downswing rather than waiting for the arms to drop before you could turn your hips.
I have also read with interest your comments about sometimes getting the arms stuck in your downswing with the shallower arm swing. I truly believe this is easily cured. Not from what you try to do in your downswing, but from a simple change in your take away.
I have always believed there was a difference in the motion sequence of upright and flat golf swings. Upright in the Nicklaus tradition was created by turning the shoulders, in the classic one piece take away, and then lifting the arms to the top of the back swing. In Palmer and Hogan tradition of a flatter arm plane, THE LEFT ARM MOVES ACROSS THE CHEST FIRST, and then the shoulders turn the club to the top. It has looked to me for some time that you are trying to use the timing of the shoulder turn of your old swing, and then flip or reroute the arms to a flat plane. When you do this you lose the leverage of swinging the left arm across the chest. The analogy I would use is tying a rope to a wagon. If the rope is slack, when you pull it the wagon does not move. If there is tension in the rope, when you pull, the wagon moves immediately. If you would swing the arm across the chest initially in your back swing, the tension created by this move would allow the arm to come forward as your body rotates, pulling the arm out of the stuck position. As it is now, the left arm moves across the chest as the downswing rotation begins, leaving your arms behind as the body rotates, creating the stuck feeling. At the speed you move there would be no way for the arms to ever catch up. So for what it is worth, the solution is very simple. Delay your shoulder turn in the backswing until the left arm has moved across the chest. Create the leverage of left shoulder on the left arm and turn your body as fast as you want in the downswing.
Please accept my best wishes for the upcoming season. I will continue to watch with great interest as you progress with your amazing career.
Director of Instruction
United States Golf Academy