Sean Foley Talks to Charlie Rose

SEAN FOLEY, BEST KNOWN AS TIGER WOODS’S swing coach, recently sat down for an extended interview with Charlie Rose, the CBS and PBS talk-show host. I realize the above video of the interview is 37 minutes long, but you might want to set aside some time for all or part of it. I thought it was interesting.

I was about to turn in a few nights ago when I flipped over to Charlie Rose on PBS. There was Foley talking Tiger, the swing, golf instruction and more.

You don’t have to listen long to realize that Foley is a total golf-instruction geek. After seeing David Leadbetter and Butch Harmon at the Canadian Open when he was 13 or 14, Foley decided he wanted to be one of those guys. His career path was set.

“My whole life has been about the search for the perfect shot,” Foley told Rose.

There’s more to Foley than Tiger, although that’s why he’s famous, at least in a golf sense. Foley has defended his work with Woods, at times sounding testy. The crazy Tiger media glare will do that to people. Implosions happen.

With Charlie Rose, Foley comes across as candid, thoughtful and even humble. He admits that, as a golf instructor, his influence is limited. Not just with Tiger, but also with his other players: Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Hunter Mahan. He also has worked with Sean O’Hair, Stephen Ames and, more recently, Luke Donald. (UPDATE: Sean O’Hair is NOT working with Luke Donald. My mistake.)

Not a bad stable.

I still don’t understand why Tiger had to make such wholesale changes to his golf swing, even down to how he played sand and chip shots. I figured it was Foley’s philosophy, an all-or-nothing approach, total buy-in. I also figured Tiger must have needed a re-tooled swing for his battered knee and mid-thirties, beefier body.

I do agree with Foley on at least one thing. Tiger can’t go back to his 2000 golf swing that helped him win so many majors. Age and flexibility stand in his way, not Foley or any other swing coach or swing philosophy.

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Neil Sagebiel

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