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August 23, 2010

Rumors: Tiger to try Stack and Tilt swing?

Posted at 1:45 PM by Alan Bastable | Categories: LPGA Tour, Shoal Creek, Tiger Woods

Don't write Stack and Tilt's obit just yet. The swing system non grata, which lost much of its cachet when it failed to bring salvation to the likes of Aaron Baddeley and Mike Weir, might soon be on Tiger Woods's to-do list. In Monday's New York Times, Bill Pennington points out that Sean Foley — who has been all but ordained as Tiger's next swing coach — is a fan of the S&T principles.

...several of Foley’s colleagues in the small community of top golf coaches said they thought Foley had been influenced by the Stack and Tilt teachings of Plummer and Bennett ... [and] he has subtly endorsed some of the Stack and Tilt fundamentals in recent interviews and instructional videos.            

In the last five years no swing philosophy has triggered as much debate and consternation as S&T. The bread and butter of golf instructors Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett (if they didn't invent the system, they're certainly the guys who have best marketed it), S&T hinges on the notion that instead of shifting your weight onto the back foot to begin your backswing, you should actually shift, or "stack," your weight on the front foot with your spine titled toward the target.

It's counterintuitive, at least as far as most traditional instructors are concerned, which explains why it has been such a hot-button issue in teaching circles and why if Tiger starts S&T-ing things could really heat up. Poor guy. Controversy even follows him to the range.

LPGA pro shuns short caddie

Juli Inkster was disqualified from last week's LPGA's Safeway Classic for swinging a weighted "donut" on the course, but that's not the most bizarre and unfortunate incident to unfold at the Oregon event. Earlier in the week 17-year LPGA vet Dina Ammaccapane refused the services of her assigned caddie — 5-foot-3-inch Cameron Kiyokawa — because of his diminutive stature. John Canzano at The Oregonian reports:

Ammaccapane eventually showed up at 4 p.m. [on Monday], where she was directed to her waiting caddie. Cameron, 19, walked up, and introduced himself. "She looked at me," he said, "gave me a weird look and didn't say anything." There was an awkward silence.

Then Ammaccapane said it. And I wish she hadn't. So does Cameron. So does his father, Perry, who heard the words and felt his insides hollow out.

Ammaccapane said this: "Do you have anyone bigger?"

There was some initial confusion. Some thought she was joking. This was followed by some discussion between the master caddie and Ammaccapane, who explained that she wanted someone more capable of carrying her 75-pound bag. Ultimately, it's her bag and her golf career, and so the discussion ended with the player announcing, "I would be more comfortable with someone bigger."

Seems caddie size does matter.  

In a follow-up blog post Sunday, Canzano wrote that "the LPGA is 'pissed,' I'm told, because I didn't write a happier/easier column to help them promote their tournament." He also said that the LPGA tried to make kind with Kiyokawa by offering him an inside-the-ropes pass for Sunday's final round, an offer the would-be caddie declined.     

Shoal Creek lands Champions Tour major

Shoal Creek golf club in Alabama hasn't hosted a major since the 1990 PGA Championship, primarily because of the remarks its founder, Hall Thompson, made in the run-up to that tournament regarding the club's refusal to admit black members. The club, however, has worked diligently to repair its image, as reported by Michael Bamberger in the August issue of Golf Magazine, and that campaign has begun to pay dividends, first with a visit from the USGA (with the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur) and now from the Champions Tour, which today announced it will conduct a major -- the Regions Tradition -- at Shoal Creek, according to The Birmingham News:

Organizers say the event will boost Birmingham's reputation in the golf world and draw top senior golfers such as Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Fred Couples. The Regions Tradition, as it will be called, will be the first of five "major" tournaments on the Champions Tour and will take place May 2-8.       

As Golf Magazine explained, much of the credit for Shoal Creek's reemergence belongs to Hall's son, Mike Thompson, who is a leading decision-maker at the club. Shoal Creek has three black members today, including Condoleezza Rice, and has instituted an "outreach program" to increase its diversity. It has also hosted many regional tournaments with the hopes of attracting more big-time events.      

"The goal was to get professional golf back," Mike Thompson said. "We're just delighted to be back in the game."       

Thompson's ultimate goal is to draw another regular major to Shoal Creek -- a U.S. Open, say, or another PGA. That seems unlikely, but then again just a few short years ago the idea of a senior major, or for that matter a U.S. Junior, landing at the club seemed unlikely too. Stay tuned.        

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