Sean Foley on Ambitions, New DVD and Fixing Tiger's Driver

Sean Foley has had a busy fall, officially becoming the swing coach to Tiger Woods a month ago and releasing a new DVD of his teaching.

Three years ago, Sean Foley had a dream. Now it wasn’t some Martin Luther King dream. Nope. He told the Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein that he aspired to coaching Tiger Woods. I thought it a ridiculous thing to say. And I wasn’t the only one, though my blog on it comes up higher on Google than the others apparently.

“You were like one of 500 guys to say that,” says Foley from Florida. Nice remark. He could have as easily said, “Nah, nah, nah – I’m coaching the world’s No. 2 golfer and you’re in Toronto, writing on a blog.” He didn’t – but he could have. Probably even had the right to.

Now he coaches Woods (something he says didn’t become firm until just over a month ago), along with a bunch of other guys you’ve heard of – Sean O’Hair, Stephen Ames, Hunter Mahan, and Jamie Lovemark, among others. He’s arguably got the best roster of players of any working swing coach, young players with lots of game and lots of promise.

But he isn’t overwhelmed — Foley downplays his seemingly crazy schedule.

“Busy was sitting on the range at Glen Abbey from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” he explains. “This isn’t as busy, but can get out of hand if you’re not paying attention to your schedule.”

While working Woods through an overhaul of his swing, Foley is hitting the media – hard. Until now if you searched for Foley you found a blog I wrote in 2007 asking whether he was a wanker. People think I held that opinion when truthfully I always found Foley an outspoken, engaging interview, even if his tendency was – and still is – to talk in hyperbole. He’s a big picture guy, the type who swings for the fences and either bangs it out of the park, which seems to be the case lately, or misses big.

Suddenly Sean Foley is ubiquitous.

“That’s a great word,” Foley says, laughing. “I’m ever evolving. But I don’t get out of bed thinking about making money.”

Regardless of his financial ambition, Foley is bringing out a DVD (, one that condenses his thoughts on the golf swing into bite-sized, easier to swallow concepts. I’ve often heard from those who have taken lessons from him that Foley can get esoteric, confusing players with his concepts. I’ve spoken to an equal number of players – like O’Hair and Mahan – who talk about his ability to script the message for the audience. In other words, he talks and teaches one way to O’Hair and another to Mahan, and presumably different still to Woods.

The DVD was shot by Foley’s brother, partly on Islington driving range at the Canadian Open, where most of the interviews with the likes of Ames and Mahan are conducted, and some in Florida. It uses interesting angles and computer graphics to create something more than the typical golf instructional film, something that has become saturated by one-camera clips conducted by some swing teacher on his home SLR Christmas present. I’ll give him credit for trying something more ambitious; after all, this is a guy who still doesn’t have a website. That’s not to say he hasn’t done a fair bit to promote himself – open any golf magazine from Canada and the U.S. lately, or turn on the Golf Channel and Foley is liking standing there, in full Swoosh gear. The DVD seems like a logical extension. In turn, he’s also signed on with Wasserman Media (which manages Hunter Mahan and Nick Taylor, among others, and for whom for tour pro Ian Leggatt works, along with former IMG player/agent Chris Armstrong).

What’s down the road for Canada’s most outspoken swing doctor? First there’s Woods. Foley says the focus is on one main component of Woods’ game – his driver.

“If there is one thing over the next year that I want to challenge myself is to make him No. 1 in total driving on the PGA Tour,” Foley says. Woods was 192 this year. “That would be my own personal thing. If I can help him become No. 1 in total driving, I just don’t see who is going to beat him.”

He also talks about getting more involved in philanthropy. He drops the names of the Gates Foundation and Warren Buffett as groups that have done a lot for charities. It sounds a bit over the top, but I’ve come to understand that’s how Foley thinks.

“I’m the type of person who gets the most enjoyment out of helping people,” he says. “And the way you help people is how you can at your own level. Previously may way of helping was to offer my services to tour players without charging them, which was my way of paying it forward. But as things increase monetarily, you can help other situations. I think a lot about single mothers and what they go through and how we can help them. I think about underprivileged kids – things that tear at most people.”

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Jeff Lancaster

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I guess when sports writers start writing about personal problems of an individual versus the sport itself, they too have failed to add value to the sport. So advice for the writers is get back to writing about the subject of the sport not the individual personal poor judgment…as Jack Nicklus apparently once said to achieve excellence he played the course not the competitor. So writers of sports should learn by this and focus on who is achieving new levels of success in the sport and stop wasting time on the gossip of the individual. Then maybe Tiger can feel he too can focus on the sport rather than redemption that media is encouraging him to do.

  • Interesting that some readers feel the need to tell writers what to write about. I think that is up to the writer. It is the reader who is free not to read what is written or click on a different blog link.

  • No one on this earth can “redeem” anyone. Only God does and each of us has to answer for our moral sins. Tiger’s sins are now in the open, but what about ours which are behind closed doors. It is a thought that should cross the minds of the media folks in particular who know that to get people reading their articles they continue to squeeze every inch of publicity by writing about Tiger Woods. Tiger is moving on and so should they. They keep on harping that Tiger is ruining his kids – well, they are much too young now to understand all this and are happy if their parents love them – which they do. I see recently where Chelsea Clinton was walked down the aisle by her father, President Bill Clinton. Was Chelsea not hurt by the sex scandal of her dad? I am sure she was, but she forgave him and love him. Tiger, whose children are literally babies – if he continues to be a good father to them – will love him and the golf writers cannot do anything about it, no matter their opinion. So, all Tiger has to do is to continue to move forward and do the right things in life. He too will find a woman who truly loves him, who know what he desires personally to satisfy his urges, and will be more fully active in his Foundation. He truly needs someone who understands his needs, his vision, etc., not just interested in his money and being a socialite. Tiger and his kids will be fine. All the best to him. I am sure looking forward to golf next week and to 2011. I think Sean Foley will be good for Tiger (and I hope he knows it) most importantly from a non-US point of view. Go Tiger, Go Sean.

  • I order the Sean Foley DVD 10 December . I have not heard a word from anyone. Can someone please tell me the status on my order.

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