One of the reasons that Tiger got so good was that he was never satisfied. No matter how well he played he always felt that he could do better. It’s a great asset to have and certainly contributed to his rise to the top of the golfing world. There is however a downside to it which is that no matter how good you get you will never be satisfied and always believe that if you just change a small thing you will improve further. When Tiger was coached by Butch Harmon he made the game look ridiculously easy. He drove the ball miles his iron play was exceptional and his short game and putting were better than anybody else’s. He looked certain to beat Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major wins and establish himself as the greatest player of all time. Through hours of hard work and from hitting thousands of golf balls he had built a swing that worked extremely well under pressure and looked unbeatable whenever he brought his A game.
In a sense he had reached a level that very few people thought he could surpass he had almost done the impossible and conquered the game of golf. This is where the hitherto incredible success story starts to go wrong. If you have reached such a level would the game become boring? Would the day to day routine of hitting golf balls become less satisfying because there wasn’t sufficient challenge in it anymore? I am sure we would all like to have a similar problem however Tigers an intelligent man and I feel sure that about this time he started to become bored with the game. However as we all know no matter how well we are playing there is always that little nagging thought at the back of our minds that we can still do better. How many of us have played a great round of golf and sat down afterwards and not thought about all the good shots we have hit but just about the one or two that we could have done better. What could Harmon say to him to keep him motivated he had helped to build the world’s best golf swing he had done his job so what more could he do? If Harmon couldn’t offer him anything more to make him better still the only way Tiger could improve was to move onto another coach.
After 7 of the most successful years in golf, Tiger moved to Hank Haney and had a reasonably successful 6 years under his tutelage before then moving onto Sean Foley for another 4 years and now he is working with Chris Como who is described as a consultant rather than an instructor. Unfortunately he doesn’t look like he is ever going to reach the heights he has scaled before. Indeed all the hours and thousands of balls he has hit during the course of him making the swing changes has clearly had a detrimental effect on his body. Two back surgeries and a spell out of the game have been the consequences of his restless search for perfection and in Dubai this week when he bent down to pick his tee up he looked like a much older man.
Is there a lesson for the average golfer in Tigers career. Obviously, we won’t ever reach the heights that he has achieved but maybe we should be a little less focused on trying to find the perfect golf swing and settle for enjoying the game a bit more. Don’t keep trying to change the swing just find one that works pretty consistently and stick with it. No one can ever hit every shot perfectly not even Tiger and Ben Hogan once said that he only hit at the most 2 or 3 perfect shots in a round. Get the basics right and have a professional look you over on a regular basis and work with what you have got. It sounds simple but managing expectations is probably the hardest thing in golf. The problem with it is there is always that little voice in the back of our heads that keeps nagging us just go try this little tip and you will get better and if that doesn’t work this week next week we will have thought of something else to try. I suppose it’s what keeps us all playing the game Tiger included.