Tiger Woods Swing | How the Body Works During the Golf Downswing

Through all the changes Tiger Woods’ swing has undergone in the past 15 years, one thing has remained very constant – the way he moves his body during the transition and into the downswing.

Let’s take a closer look at the start of Tigers’ downswing and see if much has changed since 2007 when Tiger was truly in a league of his own still. I’ll also throw in some shots to compare his swing of 2007 to his swing 2018 so you can the differences.


In the image of Tiger nearing the top of his backswing in both 2007 and 2018, I have drawn three lines in yellow and one in red. These lines represent the last moment in Tiger Woods’ swing before his weight begins to shift back to the left.

The primary difference between these two swings is the obvious loss of axis tilt. Tiger now has a more vertical spine and doesn’t get “behind” the ball as much as he used to. From this position, the swing plane will inherently be steeper and make it more difficult to shallow out the club. This would be especially true for higher handicap golfers who already struggle with a steep swing plane – the last thing on earth you’d want is a more upright spine angle!

In the next image, you’re going to notice three additional lines in red. These lines represent where Tigers’ hips have shifted to during the transition and, more importantly, show that his arms have continued to move further back in his backswing.

This dynamic motion of the hips beginning to move in the opposite direction of the arms creates an added stretch to the muscles of Tiger’s core, including his obliques, serratus, latissumus dorsi and many others.

This added stretch will allow the muscles to contract quicker during the downswing to unwind his torso faster than if everything started down together. However, this movement can create tremendous shear force on your spine and must be used very judiciously if you choose to implement this in your own swing. While it does create a tremendous load in the muscles of the core, I’m not an advocate of it because of the loads placed on the spine. I personally still have the same movement in my own swing, but I simply don’t do it with the same force and speed I did when I was a young pup.

Tiger Woods Downswing
Here, Tiger has shifted back to the left while his arms have traveled further back in the backswing.

Starting down by unwinding the shoulders is the main mistake most amateur golfers make during the golf swing transition, and it robs them of power AND consistency. Your weight shift must lead your downswing, it’s so important that the entire RST 5 Step System starts with weight shift!


Most golfers understand why and how it costs them power, but understanding why it costs them consistency is more important, as that’s the number one complaint I hear when I ask a golfer what they’re looking for out of a golf lesson.

What you have to realize is that without loading and firing the muscles of the torso to begin unwinding the downswing, you’ll have no choice but to begin firing the arms and shoulders too soon during the downswing.

Even high handicap golfers can sense that they don’t have any power coming down when they don’t use their bodies correctly and instinctively try and make up for it by firing the arms out of sequence.

Of course, this creates a whole other world of problems that can all be corrected by the correct sequencing of the body that you see in Tiger Woods’ swing.

I created a special Premium video with a drill that teaches you exactly how to sequence the downswing transition and will have you not only hitting the ball farther, but more consistently with less effort.

watch the golf swing transition drill here

Tiger’s Driver Swing Comparison – 2006 vs 2018

Let’s take a bit deeper look at Tiger Woods’ driver swing and compare 2018 to 2006 when Tiger was still in his prime.

Tiger Woods Driver Swing 2006-2018

On the left is Tiger’s famous Nike Swing Portrait with a swing from 2018 on the right. Materially, very little has changed here, perhaps the most noticeable (and it’s somewhat negligible) is that Tiger has shifted more weight onto his lead leg at this point in 2018 and is pushing a bit harder off his right foot.

However, I wouldn’t read too much into it because he was definitely swinging for “beauty” during the Swing Portrait shoot and regularly drove hard off his right leg back in 2006 as well when on the course.

You can see he has more lag in 2006 at this point, but all things considered, again, not a huge change.

tiger woods driver swing

Halfway down, again not much of a change. He’s clearly “hanging back” more in 2006, but again, not much to write home about here.

Well, surely impact must be different, right? A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say.

So, clearly, from face on, there’s very little in the way of changes to Tiger’s swing from 2006 to 2018, but down the line is another story and I’ll be talking about that in an upcoming post.

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chuck quinton avatar

Chuck Quinton

is the founder of the RotarySwing Tour online golf instruction learning system. He played golf professionally for 8 years and has been teaching golf since 1995 and has worked with more than 100 playing professionals who have played on the PGA, Web.com and other major tours around the world.

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