Yesterday I wrote about Mike Weir returning to the Stack and Tilt swing method and how it was, as much as anything, a matter of diminished consciousness about his swing than it was any devotion to that idiosyncratic method. He had lost touch with his swing.
A couple of years ago, I met a journeyman Tour pro in our club’s fitness center who was a guest of another member. He’s been around for quite some time and most of you would recognize his name. I introduced myself as a Monday qualifier and we began “Tour chatting,” that “comfort food” conversation about life on Tour.
One of the things you rarely talk about is your swing, but he began to tell me about his new swing thought. He was very excited about this breakthrough his new coach had just put in. What was it? Keeping his left wrist flat at the top of his swing rather than with the slight natural cup most players play with. (Having said that, one of the best players in the game these days, Dustin Johnson, actually bows his wrist at the top—but that’s not my point.)
So here you have a Tour pro of thirty-some years of experience who was convinced that a flat wrist was the final secret to his success. He is another good example that our exalted heroes are lost souls just like the rest of us; they are just way less lost. As I said yesterday, it all comes down to consciousness again: do you have a comprehensive awareness of all that’s going on in your swing? Most people don’t, including Tour players to some extent. That’s why they seem powerless to “fix” themselves when they manage to get into a slump.
In Weir’s pre-tournament interview, he spoke about what precipitated his return to Stack and Tilt and some of the details from his point of view about what happened and why.
It’s very rare to get a Tour player’s thinking on the intricacies of his swing. They don’t want to get too “into the weeds” because they don’t want to be speaking above their audience’s heads. So how he spoke about this is exceptional.
Q. Can you just talk about your game, where it’s at, and where maybe it hasn’t been as good as in years past? What’s changed and where you’re at now?
Well, what’s changed is I was injured last year and developed some bad habits. Talked about this ostensibly, but I’m fighting my way out of that.
I’m at a time right now where I’m trying to work my way back into form and gain some momentum, just string some solid shots together. And hopefully I’ll lead some good rounds and some good tournaments, and build it back up that way.
That’s, you know, that’s what I know to do. Just keep grinding, keep working hard. And, you know, I’ve been through – it took me, I believe, 7 years to get on the PGA Tour. There were a lot of lean times, so I know what it’s like when it’s tough and you’re struggling.
It’s a little different now than when you’re coming up. But, at the same time, my mindset is still keep working hard and try to find answers to the problems I’m having. So just keep at it.
Q. You’re back working with Mr. Plummer and Mr. Bennett. How are you approaching that at this point given that you’ve been away for a couple of years? Do you fall back into that kind of mindset or that kind of approach easily? Do you get the sense that this week back working with them, do you just see this sort of as a step in progress or how do you view it?
A little bit of a step in progress. Just trying to simplify it a little bit more this time around. Being away from those guys, they’ve done a great job of simplifying their method for myself. It makes a lot of sense just applying that and keeping it simple for me.
Whoever they work with, Charlie [Wi] and Dean [Wilson], they may have different things that work for them. I’ve got to find what’s right in that technique for me because I do like it. That’s kind of what I’m pushing here to find, one or two things to concentrate on and keep it simple as I can.
Like the journeyman I met at my club, Weir is in search of magic-elixir swing tips, the fool’s gold of golf. The problem here is that we try to substitute swing tips for true awareness of our swings. It seems so logical. But as one of my former coaches once said, “the half life of a swing thought is four rounds,” and is no substitute for true consciousness about the swing, to be able to feel and know it through its entire arc.
Weir’s answer to this next question is really the gold of these three answers. I started to go through it to bold his most salient points and ended up bolding almost everything to the point of distraction. So as you read his answer here, imagine each paragraph being in bold and linger a bit.
Q. When you left him the first time, you talked about lacking a bit of feel in it. How do you think it will be different the second time around? Do you have a different mindset or different approach to that?
I think just keeping it simpler. I think you lose the feel when you’re really technique bound and simply concentrating on technique all the time, maybe you lose that feel for your shots in the game.
So that’s why I’m trying to identify one or two key things that are going to help me fix a few things. Then I just get back to playing golf and not think about it so much and not worry about it so much.
That’s with any teacher, Mike and Andy or whoever. You’ve got to kind of break it down and use the one or two little nuggets that you get from whoever is teaching you, then go play with it.
So I think to my own fault maybe last time I was with those guys, I tried to gather too much information and tried to understand it all the way and make it perfect. And now I’m not trying to be perfect. I just want it to be manageable so I can just go play.
“I tried to gather too much information and tried to understand it all the way and make it perfect. And now I’m not trying to be perfect. I just want it to be manageable so I can just go play.”
As he said, this has little to do with the fact that we’re talking about a unique swing method here and everything to do with his awareness of his swing. Once he gets beyond looking for swing tips and instead gets back in touch with what’s actually going on in his swing, he’ll be fine. He can do it. The man is a great player. $26.8 million in career earnings says so.