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Tiger Woods has made headlines for changing his golf swing multiple times in his professional career. As a pro, Woods has changed his golf swing three times under Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, and most recently Sean Foley.

Woods's pro statistics before each swing change:

June 1997, pro swing change No. 1. Tour events prior to change: 17. Wins: 5. Winning percentage: 29.4 percent. (Majors: 1. Wins: 1. Winning percentage: 100 percent.) World rank at time of swing change: 2.

March 2004, swing change No. 2. Tour events since prior change: 132. Wins: 35. Winning percentage: 26.5 percent. (Majors: 27. Wins: 7. Winning percentage: 25.9 percent.) World rank at time of change: 1.

August 2010, swing change No. 3. Tour events since prior change: 91. Won: 31. Winning percentage: 34.1 percent. (Majors: 23. Wins: 6. Winning percentage: 26.1 percent.) World rank at time of change: 1.

Woods's experience of changing his swing is an exception. Other golfers, such as Padraig Harrington and Sir Nick Faldo, have not had an equitable level of success after changing their golf swing. In Faldo's case, it took several years for his swing change to click.

Is it worthwhile to change your golf swing? What are the reasons for changing your golf swing? What factors play into the "growing pains" associated with changing your golf swing?

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meta discussion: meta.sports.stackexchange.com/questions/317/… –  edmastermind29 Jan 25 '13 at 20:07
    
Are you asking if it is worth it for pros or if it is worth it for the average golfer or both? –  mikeazo Jan 26 '13 at 12:54
    
@mikeazo take it as is. i would assume that it would immensely frustrate the average golfer, but assume no indication of either. –  edmastermind29 Jan 26 '13 at 15:05

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The purpose of modifying one's golf swing is to enhance specific playmaking qualities (i.e distance vs. accuracy) or to avoid stresses on certain parts of the body. It is no difference from a quarterback or pitcher changing their throwing motion.

We'll use Tiger Woods as an example.

Woods has always ranked among the top drivers on the PGA Tour. From 1997-2002, he placed in the Top 5 annually with an average drive around 295 yards. After Woods changed his swing the first time 2004, he increased his average drive by 10-20 yards.

When he settled into his swing, however, Woods' drives became more erratic. This is why he sought another swing change in 2010 -- to improve driving accuracy, which had dropped from a peak of 71 percent in the early 2000s to the 50s in the mid-to-late 2000s. Driving distance can be a great advantage, but it doesn't mean much if you frequently have to hit out of the rough.

And because Woods, who derives so much of his power from his lower body, has suffered a couple of knee and ankle injuries, some tweaks have probably been made to help prolong his playing career. (It isn't unusual for pros over the age of 50 continue to compete on the PGA Tour despite qualifying for the Champions Tour.)

Not every professional golfer works with a swing coach. Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters champion, prides himself on not having someone constantly analyzing his swing.

More often than not, swing coaches analyze a golfer's motion and make sure he's not deviating from what made him successful. For professionals, it may be honing in on something very specific -- tilting the club head, getting full torque out of the swing -- whereas for an amateur, its making sure they're performing proper fundamentals at the basic level.

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Good answer. I would also attribute Woods's accuracy issues to switching from steel to graphite shafts...even though his accuracy did deteriorate before the switch. 60% in a season is good for him. –  edmastermind29 Feb 9 '13 at 4:32

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