Truth & Rumors: Sean Foley talks Tiger and Teaching Philosophy
Tiger's work history with Butch Harmon and Hank Haney has understandably received a ton of attention over the years, with both teachers reaping major rewards as well as a fair share of criticism. Regardless, it's hard to imagine either guy would say serving as Tiger's swing coach was a bad thing for their career or bank account. Now that there's a new sheriff in town, a lot of golf fans are wondering what Sean Foley's relationship with the former world's No. 1 is like, and exactly what they plan to work on.
In a story posted by Brian Wacker on pgatour.com, many of these questions are answered as Foley expounds (with a fair dose of generality) on his involvement with Tiger, the question of ethics, his professed lack of desire for notoriety, and more. In regard to what the two will focus on in regard to the swing, Foley anwers:
More than anything, it's a minimalist approach. I remember reading in Mike Hebron's book, "The Art and Zen of Learning Golf," it says there are things that you cause to happen and things that you allow to happen. When you start trying to cause what's already allowed to happen, you're going to run into problems. There's a catalyst to certain things that you build in the backswing, and in the downswing there are things that are a catalyst to what happens in the through swing. If Jim Furyk's hitting it dead straight and Tiger's hitting it dead straight, the alignments at impact are identical regardless of how it looks like they got there. Sean O'Hair can swing the way he does because of his flexibility, whereas Stephen Ames has to swing at it a little differently to get the same shot shape because of what he brings to the table with his body type. The reason no golf swing will ever look truly the same is that people's hand length and arm length and strength and flexibility and how their body does or doesn't work are going to be different.
OK, pretty vanilla, but you know Foley doesn't want this relationship to end before it gets started by leaking anything too specific. Still, it tells us they'll be focusing on getting Tiger to swing more naturally than he did with Haney. Could be a good thing.
Next, Foley talks about what Tiger is having the most trouble getting used to in learning a "new," swing. His answer is a bit more interesting here:
The pattern of movement is much different than what he's done. He's always moved off the ball, except in junior golf, and then his arms were always out in front of him rather than working in on the arc. But when you have residual motor patterns, they always come back in. Making the swing I want him to make isn't that difficult for him, it's just that there's always going to be traces of every shot he's ever hit.
Things get even more interesting when the interview comes to the topic of Foley's philosophy in general. Considering where Tiger's come from and where he's trying to go, one would think these two might have a thing or two to talk about:
Your teaching philosophy is going to be an underscore of your philosophy. The mantra for me is what Ghandi said in that we need to be the change we want to see in the world. So it's not to condemn what we're trying to change, and I think it was Aristotle who said, 'A man can't think his way to proper action; He has to act his way to proper thinking.' Don't tell me, show me. That's some deep stuff I understand, but it's definitely happening. I just try to lead by example with my guys. My swing philosophy is the same way. I'm not coaching golfers; I'm coaching human beings who deal with love and hate and fear and all those different aspects in the emotional arena. If you look at them as just a golfer, you're missing out.
Tiger Ready to Return to Endorsement Arena?
Since his ill-fated meeting with a fire hydrant last November, Tiger's marriage, golf game and endorsement dollars have fallen off the map. To put things into perspective, according to Kantar Media, Tiger appeared in about $700,000 worth of advertisements through the first nine months of this year, as opposed to about $70 million during the same period last year. But according to a story in USA Today, El Tigre's return to the top of the endorsement game might not be as much of a long shot as many people think.
According to Tiger's agent, Mark Steinberg, a recent test of his client's market appeal producing "very powerful, positive, positive results." Steinberg added that he is currently in discussions with several companies about endorsement deals, and that Tiger will have a new logo on his bag next year.
"We are a society of second chances. That's been proven over the years. He's not going to be in any deal until he looks the company in the eye and has a serious conversation with them. 'How are you going to live your life? We want to be part of the redemption, rehabilitation. Are you serious about that?' And he knows that. He's comfortable with it. And he's going to do that."
Tell us what you think: does Tiger deserve a second shot at the millions he lost in endorsement dollars, or has he permanently blown his legitimacy as a pitch man?