Since 2007, when Golf Digest first published its feature on the new-fangled swing, Stack and Tilt fever has swept the internet. At the time, Aaron Baddeley was the poster boy for the swing on Tour. Over time, stars like Mike Weir adopted the swing, as well.
A couple of weeks back, I heard that Baddeley had given up on the swing and gone back to his old coach Dale Lynch. Then, I was somewhat shocked to read that Mike Weir did the same, returning to coach Mike Wilson.
Chris Henry at Eagle Par Birdie weighed in on the situation, making the point that pros change swings all the time and that this is really getting attention because the swing has been controversial since day one. Both of these things are true, but I’m still surprised.
Two things echoed through my mind as I read about Baddeley and Weir changing swings again.
First, I did a post a while back that crunched the stats for both Baddeley and Weir and a few other Stack and Tilters over the last several years. I believe I was able to show that both players had lowered their scoring averages and increased their earnings since adopting the swing, though in some categories, they had not regained previous high points, for instance, Mike Weir in the year he won the Masters.
Second, since I wrote my first article about the Stack and Tilt, I have read literally dozens if not hundreds of comments and e-mails from readers that have had moderate to great success with the swing. Don’t believe me? Look at the posts in the Stack and Tilt category and read through the comments. If my math is correct, I count exactly 300 comments on those posts. A good chunk of those are mine, responding to other comments, but that’s still a lot of discussion.
Search the internet for Stack and Tilt and look at the discussion forums and other blogs. I know that Stack and Tilt accounts for a good chunk of my visitors so I assume other bloggers and websites are experiencing the same thing.
So, I’m left wondering why Baddeley and Weir decided to revert. I think Chris is right that pros change swings and coaches all the time. That’s a big part of it. At that level, stats are kind of secondary to wins and earnings. If Mike Weir feels like he’s not on his way to a year like he had in 2003, then logic dictates that he’s probably going to change things up periodically until he finds that spot again. Same for Baddeley.
That begs the question, then: if players at the top feel like this swing is not going to help them get there, then why the huge popularity among the amateur ranks?
The only answer I have is that the Stack and Tilt is a good swing for amateurs to adopt that has the benefit of wiping out some of the major flaws that amateurs struggle with, proper weight transfer being one of them. With a little study, the swing is fairly easy to adopt and players quickly begin to strike the ball better. Better contact and better ball compression immediately gives players more distance and accuracy, even if they don’t increase their swing speeds.
What may be happening is, the swing doesn’t offer as much to top players who don’t struggle with things like weight transfer like the rest of us do. Perhaps it doesn’t offer the same level of distance or precision control that top players need. I’m not sure about that, though, as the stats for the Stack and Tilt players don’t really bear that hypothesis out.
But that brings me to another point: confidence. If a top player doesn’t feel like he has as much control, then he doesn’t. Even if he does, if you follow me.
As reported in the Naples News article I linked above:
Baddeley, who said before the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill that he was going back to Lynch, won twice on the PGA Tour and once in Australia over the past three years. But his statistics had slid this season.
“I haven’t quite seen the results I wanted,” Baddeley told FoxSports.com. “The past year has been a little inconsistent. I thought I was making good progress but there were a couple of things in the swing that weren’t clicking, so I went and saw Dale for a second opinion.”
To me, that’s a confidence issue. Baddeley said that a couple of things weren’t clicking. It sounds more like a couple of things stopped clicking, because they clicked enough previously for him to have won twice on the PGA Tour.
It’s like anything else in golf: once confidence in something is lost, it’s very difficult to get it back. Some players go through dozens of putters, looking for one that feels right. They have bad streaks and change putters just because they’ve lost confidence. They get to the point where they would putt with a tree branch if they felt like they were making putts with it. And players change swings for the exact same reason. I’ve done it myself, and I don’t have millions riding on my golf swing.
I kind of wonder if this will affect the adoption of the swing by the millions of amateur players out there. And not just because I run ads for the swing DVDs. I assure you, that’s the last thing on my mind. I’m just interested in learning about the golf swing and seeing others raise the level of their games. If this swing wasn’t adopted by a handful of Tour pros and subsequently featured in Golf Digest, it’s doubtful that knowledge of it would have extended beyond the most hardcore students of the golf swing.
Will players stick with it, and others give it a first try, knowing that the pros are moving on? I read a comment on another blog once (and I can’t remember which one) where someone said something to the effect that when Tiger Woods adopts the swing, then it’s worth thinking about. There’s some truth in that. When one of the perennial winners thinks highly enough of the swing to switch, that’s saying something. Everyone else is just trying out new things to find some old magic.
So, what do you think? I know that dozens of you have had success with the swing because you’ve told me. It stands to reason that there are hundreds or thousands more that never even bothered to comment about it, and that’s just here in my little corner of the internet. Why is it losing steam in the pro ranks? Do you think it will continue to be popular among the amateur ranks? Or will it die out, only to be remembered years from now as another swing fad?