From the 'Dashboard':
of 'CaddyBytes Bob':

Veteran tour caddy Bob Whitbread - 20 years as a caddy in professional golf. Since I don't necessarily like to 'blow my own horn' or make CaddyBytes about me so much - as I created in 2002 for an emphasis on professional golf caddies and what caddying out on tour might be all about. I also wanted it to be a tribute to a special breed of people who've dedicated their time in a game that they feel passionate about. I've been around the game out on tour in the past two decades after a couple of brief stints in the late '70's and early '80's. Then full time from 1990 - 2007. Needless to say we've seen a lot of changes today which pretty much reflect the market place - such as the inception of the FedExCup and the loss of tournaments here in the USA and the great expansion of golf internationally. This column will be from my own 'Dashboard' and will be my take on things that I choose to 'Take On' - let's call it the world of golf 'According to Bob' - hehehe!!! I Hope it's somewhat informative and at least occasionally enjoyable. If not - why bother to visit CaddyBytes at all - right?!.

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The Caddies Dashboard continues here in 2011  
- This Week's featured caddy story is - 'from the Dashboard' of:

                                                                                                                                                                                       'CaddyBytes 'Bob' 04/07/11
                                      'Tiger's Era of Dominance Is Done'

Welcome to another segment of the World of Golf according to Bob Whitbread!

Tiger Woods will never be the dominant player he once was in professional golf.  He’s DONE being that!

In modern times since the days of Sam Snead as dominant, Hogan as Dominant, Nelson as Dominant, Palmer, Nicklaus, Miller, Watson, all as Dominant Players in their time, other than Snead - Tiger was the most dominant of them all and will go down in history as that until someone else betters what he has done.  He simply won more tournaments and more majors at a faster rate and younger age and won more over a shorter period of time than any of them did before him – and against deeper competition.

Snead may well be the greatest but Tiger won more in a shorter span impacting the game against deeper fields than Sam did and really it’s not fair to compare Era’s – who knows what one would have done in the others ERA.  But you see my point.

This was done in my opinion from a combination of great skill but with much greater and intense desire than most of those predecessors.  One thing though remains consistent in all periods of player domination which we can learn from the history of all those before him.  All periods of Playing Domination have a beginning and an ending and those players all showed similar characteristics of dominance. 

Whether it was Nelson winning 11 in a row, Hogan taking down course after course in machine like dominance, Nicklaus – out ball striking the field then waiting, and waiting, over that putt, it seemed like an eternity, and then will the ball into the hole when it mattered most.  Johnny Miller’s time may have been shorter than the others but he was just as dominant and he hit the ball so close to the hole so many time you could literally kick ‘em in.  And could he go low! 

Palmer won four Masters in a period of 6 years, add to that a British Open and a U.S. Open.  There was a stretch for about 10 years when Arnold made everything he looked at.  All of them varied somewhat.  Watson could go at every flag and in the late 70’s into the 80’s for about 10 years he literally rammed the ball into the back of the hole.  He could shoot at almost any flag because he was the greatest up and down player for the money in his time if he missed the green.  Snead may well have had the greatest golf swing for the money. 

But when they were dominant they made all the putts they looked at that mattered, drove it great, hit it close, and won when it mattered most.  They are the greats of their respective times.  So too will Tiger be viewed for his time of dominance.

Now I’m not about to write Woods off from winning again.  I certainly think he’ll do that.  I’m just saying that his period of dominance is done.  This pace of winning 5, 6, 8, 9 tournaments in a year throw in a major or two in each of those years as well is over.  They all have their endings.  Different things bring that on in different people.  Tiger won some majors and about 10 to 12 events during what I now see as the beginning of the decline of dominance which also coincided with all that we learned about him last year and the scandal during a time frame which Peter Alliss aptly named as Tiger’s ‘Fornicating’ Period. 

Most of the media won’t make this call I’m making here.  So I will. Can Tiger still break Jack’s Majors record?  Possibly still because he’s only 34.  Tigers decline was beginning before the scandal hit the streets in late 2009.  He was hitting it left and right and his iron play into the greens is very errant.  He was still putting great enough to win what 6 times after his knee surgery before the scandal in 2009.  Hell that’s a career for most journey men pro’s today!

Prior to the scandal it was obvious that Tiger and Hank Haney’s flattening of his swing were in an effort in a young Tiger to create a more consistent plane to swing on more like 'The Hawk' - the great Ben Hogan. (Coming into the game on tour Tiger was more upright more like Jack Nicklaus which is his natural swing plane).  That flatter plane was also getting Tiger trapped or 'stuck' behind the ball more and unduely loaded that left knee and eventually caused less consistency in his ball striking - which continues even right now under the tutelage of his new swing coach Sean Foley. 

Tiger Woods is the only golfer that I am aware of who literally blew out a body part at a relatively young age (his left knee) because of the way he swung at the golf ball.  When Ernie Els had reconstructive knee surgery to repair a skiing accident it took him almost three years before he could win again.  Tiger did it weeks after he re-entered tournament play.  But you still have to compound the knee surgery along with the blown psyche and image deflation that occurred after the scandal along with Woods absense from the game - and many argue including myself that Woods is going in the wrong direction in the swing change department.

As a result we have a Tiger Woods who is now in swing search mode - which is a place you can't be if you are planning on winning golf tournaments.  Compounding all that he also is putting now like a mere mortal for a touring pro.  And He’s hitting it awful - for Tiger Woods.  And after having a break over the winter and working on it you can see that the changes in his swing at least right now aren’t holding up under pressure when you need it most.

Johnny Miller said the other day as he went through losing it and regaining it that it was like trying to climb out of the Grand Canyon.  I’m at Pebble and I hear caddies saying Tiger will never win again.  He’ll definitely never break Jack’s record.  I won’t go so far as to say that yet.  The great ones in the past always had a comeback in them.

But they are correct about how bad he looks and how beatable he is at the present time.  I don’t see him coming out of this any time soon.  I think he’ll have his runs this year and may very well win one.  But I think this one will be a long slow climb of much trial and error before he’s back in the mix.  Then he’s 35, 37, 42, – what Tiger 42?  There’s only so much time you can be on top in this game.

We will indeed get to see what he’s made of in the next couple years.  And most likely we will see him win again.  As for Majors I don’t think so.  Not until he’s got it back on all cylinders including the putting game – ah yes – now a somewhat elusive putter.  He may well beat Jack yet – we don’t know now what appeared to be a ‘lock’ only just a few years ago.  But one thing I am certain of.  Tiger’s Era of Dominance is Done!  (And what an Era it Was!!!)

                                                            My next story:  ‘Part III Coming: The correct swing fix for Tiger:’

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