Shackelford: Tiger Woods discusses pursuit of speed

David Cannon/Getty Images

Shackelford: Tiger Woods discusses pursuit of speed

PGA Tour

Shackelford: Tiger Woods discusses pursuit of speed

By

NASSAU, Bahamas – With clubhead speed in mind, Bryson DeChambeau turned up at the Hero World Challenge sporting 20 added pounds of muscle. Tournament host Tiger Woods has regularly mentioned “speed” figures to assess the state of his game. And a new generation, inspired by the launch monitor and taking cues from Woods, has elite golfers focused on raw miles per hour.

But does this speed obsession get the proverbial ball in the hole?

While Tiger has transformed professional golf in many ways, nowhere is his influence more substantial in encouraging a power game. This holds true even as the 43-year-old has transitioned away from using power to silence a field in his two 2019 victories.

While Woods doesn’t say he regrets pushing his body to extremes, he does expect more injuries in golf as more strive for power.

“There’s going to be added wear and tear on different parts of the body that traditionally there hasn’t been,” Woods said as his busy two-week stretch begins Wednesday at the Hero World Challenge. The four-day event ending Saturday benefits his TGR Foundation and ONE Bahamas Fund and is followed by a flight to Melbourne, Australia, where he will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup team next week.

Hero WorldPhotos | Betting odds | Fantasy | Tee times, TV 

“Now people are doing PiYos, Olympic lifts, all the different things because they know how important ground is to create power,” Woods said of modern swings that emphasize rotation over the old reverse C moves of the 1970s. “Now you’re going to start to see, I’m sure, some wear and tear injuries that traditionally hasn’t been the case. We’ll see how that goes.”

With Woods, Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka all sidelined at times this year dealing with left knee problems, he believes the pressure players put on their bodies will not change.

“I’m on the tail end of my career, but these kids are starting out in their early 20s,” he said. “But then again, look at them, they’re so much bigger and stronger and they’re working out at an earlier age and their nutritional program is better, their recovery tactics are better. Everyone is getting better, stronger, faster, more athletic at an earlier age now.”

Woods, whose career started with persimmon woods and steel shafts, believes – and laments – the way launch monitors and hi-tech drivers encourage players to swing harder without fear of the ugly misses spawned by clubs of yesteryear.

“Just get on a machine and you can see what you need to do to make the adjustments, couple tweaks here and there and all of a sudden you’ve just gained another 15 (yards),” he said with some derision, given how many hours he spent building toward the game that has spawned 15 major championship wins and a record-tying 82nd PGA Tour title this fall.

“I just think it would be fun to have these kids swing a little persimmon driver and try to hit as hard as they do, understanding that you can’t hit it all over the face. You have to hit the ball dead center, but you can hit the ball all over the face here now days and get away with it.”

Woods tees off in Round 1 at 11:35 a.m. ET Wednesday with Justin Thomas, one of the young players inspired to use power as a central part of his game. Do not look for him to try and keep up, but given the sound state of his body and overall game, Woods is doing just fine.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home