Sean Foley (golf instructor)

Sean Foley (golf instructor)

Sean Foley (born 1974, Burlington, Ontario) is a Canadian golf instructor, who has coached Sean O'Hair,[1] Hunter Mahan, Stephen Ames and Parker McLachlin, and other PGA Tour professionals. He has coached Justin Rose since the end of 2009.[2] Foley also coaches Canadian PGA Tour player Chris Baryla.[3] Foley began a partnership with Tiger Woods during the summer of 2010.[4] Foley also became Noh Seung-yul's instructor in 2012, and Lee Westwood began working with Foley in the summer of 2013.

Foley has been the head coach for the Canadian Junior Golf Association since 2003, and teaches at Core Golf Junior Academy at Orange County National, Winter Garden, Florida.

Foley graduated with an Arts degree from Tennessee State University, where he played on the varsity golf team. Foley did not aim for a professional golf playing career, but had set a goal in his mid-teens of becoming an instructor to top players, after watching David Leadbetter work with Nick Faldo on the range at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Course in the early 1990s.[5]

Foley left the Clublink Academy at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario, and moved to Orlando, Florida in August 2006.[6]

Foley and O'Hair split in May 2011, with Foley citing O'Hair's need for a fresh start and a desire to change the direction of his instruction.[7]

Coaching Tiger Woods

In May 2010, Foley denied widely spread rumors that he was about to be hired as coach by Tiger Woods[8] On August 10, 2010, Foley helped Tiger Woods with his swing during a practice round at the PGA Championship, and confirmed the possibility of working with Woods.[9] Foley and Woods have been working together ever since. Foley works with Woods twice a week in the off-season.[10]

Foley and Woods have made several changes to Woods' swing since late 2010. Foley has taught Woods to stay more centered over the ball and increase weight on the left side through the downswing. Foley also teaches forward shaft lean at impact, which has resulted in Woods saying that he has gotten the distance back that he had earlier in his career. Woods' swing is now steeper than it was when he worked with previous instructor Hank Haney, and he no longer bows his left wrist at the top of the swing as much as he did before hiring Foley. Perhaps the most notable swing difference is that Woods is now a fade-biased golfer for the first time in his career. Woods and Foley worked on a more out-to-in swing path, trying to avoid coming from the inside and getting "stuck," which was an issue of Woods'. Woods had clear difficulty hitting draws in the earlier portion of this process, but began to work the ball both ways well in 2013.

Woods struggled in the first few months of 2011 and then took several months off in the summer due to injury. Woods' first win with Foley came at his own Chevron World Challenge in December 2011. He then won three PGA Tour events in 2012 and was in contention in each of the final three majors of the year, but played below average on the weekends and fell short of victory. Woods won three of his first five stroke-play events in 2013 and returned to the No. 1 world ranking, and then won The Players Championship for the second time in his career in May.

Instruction style

Foley is known for claiming a scientific approach to the golf swing. One of his trainees, Justin Rose, said of Foley's instruction style:

Sean does not look at me as a golfer. He looks at me as an athlete and from a biomechanical point of view. He is not necessarily wrapped up in what makes a swing pretty. He wants what works for me from a scientific point of view. This is not necessarily the position that everyone strives for, but that is what I like about Sean.[11]

Foley recommends setting up with about 55% of the body weight on the left side (for righthanded golfers) and keeping it left during the whole swing until contact with the ball, when close to 80% of the weight should be on the left foot.[12] This is the same setup and weight shift instructors Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer prescribe.[13] Foley acknowledges the resemblance and says it is because they all studied the swings of old players that kept centered over the ball during the whole swing.[14] Foley stated that he has "a lot of admiration and respect" for his friend Andy Plummer.[15]


External links

  • The Next Generation with Sean Foley, golf instruction DVD.