Bobby Clampett: Why Tiger Woods and I Could Never Find a Golf Coach

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News of Tiger’s departure from his recent golf coach, Chris Como, should come as no surprise. Tiger’s growing list now includes the so-called world’s best golf instructors: Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, Sean Foley and now Chris Como. It’s also worth mentioning that Tiger has spoken to so many more and gotten their feedback over the years. After the “interview” process, he chose not to hire many of them. I know many that Tiger has hired and interviewed over the years. They all share a common passion for teaching and genuinely wanted to help Tiger. But why would Tiger end up firing all of them?

Watching Tiger go through this process brings back memories, not good ones. After winning back-to-back Northern California Junior Points (Annual) totals, winning back-to-back Fred Haskins Trophies (Heisman Trophy of College Golf), being the #1 ranked Amateur in the world and back-to-back PGA Tour top 20 money list years, I got talked into trying some new coaches. I was told this was the only way to become the #1 player in the world. Ben Doyle had been my coach for 10 years and I felt my game had plateaued. Never wanting to look back and regret that I didn’t at least try a new coach, I went for it. Like Tiger, I would talk to my Tour friends I trusted and get their opinions on who were the best coaches. Of course, they all advocated the golf coach they were working with. That’s part of the ethics of being on Tour and having a coach. As a player, you want their success too, just like they want yours. Like Tiger, I dabbled with them for a while before I committed. Some I committed to longer than others, just like Tiger.

Tiger's won 79 times on the PGA Tour, which would indicate that he knows what he's doing

Tiger’s won 79 times on the PGA Tour, which would indicate he knows what he’s doing

Like Tiger, I got differing opinions from different golf coaches. The one thing they all had in common is they wanted me to make some pretty significant style changes, some I just wasn’t capable of doing. The changes were all different and some even conflicted with one another. One coach wanted my swing plane steeper in the backswing, the other wanted it flatter. One coach wanted a slight cupping of the left wrist at the top of the backswing, the other wanted the wrist to be flat. One coach wanted my hands low at address, the other, high. One coach wanted me to have a shorter backswing with a smaller hip turn, the other wanted to change my setup posture, etc. Tiger has been experiencing the very same things that I did.

Not once did I ask the one question I should have asked. This is probably my biggest regret I have of my 15-plus years on the PGA Tour and could have changed the outcome of my career. Though the question is fair, I sincerely doubt any of the coaches could have given me a satisfactory answer. But I would have really enjoyed hearing the answer.

So what is the question? “How is this style change you want me to make going to affect my impact?”
Impact is the only thing that really matters in golf. It is 100% responsible for sending the ball where it goes. Where the ball goes is 100% due to the conditions created at impact. Like I used to joke with my caddie Cliff Robinson on the Champions Tour, “The ball goes where I hit it every time!” Sure, things you alter in your swing can affect your impact, but the real key to understanding golf lies in answering the question “How”?

I didn’t mention my other golf coaches, because I don’t believe in throwing them under the bus. They genuinely wanted to help me, were gracious with their time, but they were all looking in the wrong direction. I believe Tiger is experiencing the same thing. Tiger was the #1 ranked player in the world with each of his three coaches and also was #1 without a coach. One of his coaches, who had been one of my new coaches for a while confided in me that he actually taught Tiger differently that he did me and others. He let Tiger determine the direction the coaching would go. I found that interesting a certainly a departure from how he coached me. I think that was wise on his part and kept Tiger playing well. But did it improve him? He wouldn’t have left if he had kept improving. Tiger likes playing his best.

I am perturbed by the vast array of so-called “experts” in the field (golf announcers), who give their opinion about how much they like or dislike the newest swing style changes of Tiger. Some are a little better than others about expressing thoughts on the air, but I’ve just got to say that Brandel Chamblee drives me nuts! How I’ve witnessed times that Brandel would argue with Frank Nobilo (who has a better understanding than most announcers) about why this new position looks good or not. How many times has Brandel had to back-peddle his way into having to admit he was simply wrong about Tiger. Brandel’s confusion stems around his “Style-based” philosophy. Brandel needs to learn that golf is not a game of styles of swing like he thinks it is.

Style-based methods are changing as often as new religions, new ones seem to be born every day. You can have your smorgasbord of style-based methods, from: Stack and Tilt, Square to Square, The A Swing, The Connection Swing, The True Plane swing, One Plane Swing, The Two Plane Swing, The Gravity Golf Swing and so on. Then the biomechanic experts chime in about postures and rotations and how they improve your swing. All are subjective opinions without evidence that the styles they are advocating actually works to improve your game. The crazy thing is that the avid golfer is consumed with all this mumbo-jumbo and is so easily sucked into the frenzy. My gosh, how many times have you seen instructors teaching during a television show and watched how they completely contradicted each other and themselves in the same show. Never have golfers been so confused as they are today. No wonder 4 million quit every year. It’s a style-based epidemic that has duped golfers into thinking change your style of swing to theirs and you’ll be a better golfer. Instead, they get nowhere, their games don’t improve and they get frustrated. I hear way too much how they had lost hope.

Eamonn Darcy's unique position at the top

Eamonn Darcy’s unique position at the top

What I think Tiger is beginning to discover is what I discovered many years ago that led to my creating “Impact-Based” Instruction. What else explains why Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Eamonn Darcy, Corey Pavin, Bernhard Langer, Jim Thorpe, Fuzzy Zoeller, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and countless others have had such great careers with such unorthodox and even in some cases, ugly swings. It certainly isn’t their swing style! The common ingredient of all these great champions is “impact”.

Tiger has proven this! He’s been #1 in the world with countless different styles of swings. In my opinion, Tiger doesn’t need a coach. He knows more than they do. At least he doesn’t need a coach that’s going to try to improve his swing style. Improving his golf, Tiger needs to stick with his style that he’s comfortable with and feels he can repeat in competition. He then needs to fine tune his impact, consistency and cause/affect understanding. If he can keep it simple, it will allow for the brilliant artist that exists to come out and paint the pallet of great shots.

The world waits with anticipation.

I developed the only teaching system that focuses on golf’s moment of truth, impact. Understanding proper impact and how to achieve it is the most important element in improving one’s game. Discover Impact-Based® Instruction for yourself.

If this makes sense, so will impactzonegolf.com.


Bobby Clampett, founder, Impact Zone Golf
After many years of studying the greatest players in the world, Clampett founded Impact Zone Golf, where the goal is to enhance and accelerate the enjoyment and learning of the game of golf.

Clampett turned professional at 20, after his junior year at BYU. He then played the Tour for 16 years before transitioning to a golf analyst and commentator in the mid 90’s to 2010. In 2008, he founded Impact Zone Golf – a revolutionary system that concentrates on improving a players impact position rather than their “style” of swing.

The Impact Zone Golf Academy is located at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

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