What Golfers Can Learn From Tiger Woods' Latest Comeback at the Hero World Challenge
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
From his historic 1997 Masters win to his run through the late '90s and early 2000s, Tiger Woods’ accomplishments on the course are well documented.
Equally as documented, however, are the countless setbacks and injuries throughout his career. Time and time again Tiger has made remarkable comebacks, seemingly against all odds; take his 2019 Masters win as a prime example.
The latest comeback chapter comes this week at the 2023 Hero World Challenge, Woods' first start since the Masters this past spring. There's a lot you can learn from how he's approached this comeback, too.
A winning four-step mental approach
With past injury comebacks, Tiger would be the first to tell you that he likely rushed things to get back. That's understandable, especially for someone as competitive as he is. However, the best way to tackle such situations is to fully understand that a proper mental strategy and game plan for your recovery is paramount to returning to playing at whatever level you can.
My advice, in terms of a mental approach, includes the following:
- Through discussions with your doctor, fully understand what your limitations will be. You're the one dictating what you will be willing to put in in terms of time and effort, so let the doctor know where you want to be and start the planning from there.
- Make a realistic game plan, from a time standpoint, on what you will have time for in terms of your day-to-day recovery, both physical and golf related.
- I highly recommend working with a golf fitness specialist in recovery, as well as a PGA Coach. The combination will help keep you determined, and patient.
- Plan your work and work your plan. In doing so, make sure to be smart about your approach. Reaggravation of your injuries or overuse of compensating parts of your body can lead to a much, much longer recovery.
It has been well documented in Tiger’s various comebacks that he had to adapt his approach to playing the game in order to work around his physical shortcomings. He modified his swing to minimize stress on his injuries without compromising too much in terms of his performance.
Average golfers can learn from Tiger by understanding that adapting their game to accommodate physical limitations or injuries can help them continue playing despite setbacks.
My advice, in terms of how you approach things from a strategic standpoint, includes the following:
- Embrace the opportunities ahead as you rediscover a new approach to the game. Learn your limitations and devise a plan for playing the game with that in mind.
- Practice to play, and play as your practice. This is an excellent approach for any golfer, but especially for those learning and adapting to a new way of playing the game.
- Work with a PGA of America Golf Professional to define your new playing method based on your specific injury. In your sessions with the coach, work specifically on learning and incorporating your new swing or approach to play.
- Split up your personal practice sessions. First through reinforcement of the new technique and approach through drills.
- Second, incorporate the new technique and approach into practice games, practice holes, or rounds. In these, technique is secondary, and learning to play and score with your new approach is the key.
By embracing patience, adapting techniques, prioritizing physical fitness, fostering mental strength, and maintaining a positive mindset, you can overcome setbacks and achieve your desired goals in this game . . . just like Tiger.
Brendon R. Elliott, PGA
Brendon Elliott is considered by his peers in the industry as one of the top youth golf coaches in the world. He is a multiple, local, state, regional, national and world award winning instructor with a focus on junior golfers ages 3-18. With numerous appearances on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, local TV, nationwide radio and countless publications, Elliott is one of the foremost experts in the youth golf arena. His Little Linksters 501c3 nonprofit is recognized as an example for introducing children as young as three to the game as well as how to help introduce youth with disabilities to our golf. Elliott has been recommended by industry titian's such as Nicklaus, Player, Floyd, Sorenstam, Speith and more. Among his numerous accolades, Elliott was named the PGA of America's 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award Winner in 2017.