Golf Instruction

Teaching Professional: Sean Foley

Fresh Lessons From Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers

In his office next to the practice tee at Orange County National Golf Center near Orlando, Sean Foley is taking an air-conditioned break from a steamy August morning when he notices a conspicuously placed magazine on his desk. It's open, and the article displayed asks a question in big, block letters: "WHO IS SEAN FOLEY?"

"Who cares?" Foley replies, after reading the headline out loud.

Before this summer, that question could have been rhetorical. He was a promising golf instructor who was quietly assembling a stable of PGA Tour pros, including Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair, Stephen Ames and Justin Rose. But then Tiger Woods took notice and asked him to look at his swing. The two have since been spotted working together several times, and now everyone wants to know more about the guy working with Tiger.

"The other day," Foley says, "my parents called me. They said a TV crew was knocking on their door for an interview. This is insane, eh?"

That "eh" is telling. Foley was born outside Toronto and lived in Canada for several years. At age 10, he learned the basics of golf from his dad and grew to love the game. But he says he never had aspirations of being a professional golfer. Instead, he recalls attending the Canadian Open one year and watching David Leadbetter work with Nick Faldo. "I remember thinking how cool Leadbetter's job must be," he says. By 15, Foley was learning all he could about the swing, even studying Homer Kelley's technically explicit book The Golfing Machine. Adding to his diverse experience in the game, Foley played college golf at Tennessee State, a historically black university.

"I learned there that you have to be yourself," says Foley, who graduated in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy. "You can't fake anything. People will know." "He's a deep thinker," O'Hair says of Foley. "Not just about the golf swing, but about life in general."

Foley, the newest Golf Digest Teaching Professional, has studied everything from kinesiology to Eastern philosophies to geometry to improve his teaching. "I don't necessarily know what's right," he says. "But I know enough about the golf swing to know what's wrong." --Ron Kaspriske

Sean Foley
Jaime Diaz

Who Is Sean Foley?

A 36-year-old Canadian now living in Orlando, one of the best young teachers in the game -- and, if the signs are to be believed, Tiger Woods' new swing coach
Golf Digest On Demand

Take The Golf Digest Clinic

To see Sean Foley (on left) and other Best Young Teachers in action, sign up for the new Golf Digest Clinic video series. Beginning with Foley, you'll get an hour of instruction from a new teacher each month. Foley's topics include full-swing basics and power. Next month: Kevin Smeltz on ball-striking and pitching. The price is $9.99 a month, and you can opt out at any time. Go to
Sean Foley
Golf Instruction

4 Steps To Save Your Back

In working with Craig Davies, a chiropractor and golf-specific fitness trainer in Orlando, Sean Foley identifies four key areas where golfers can transfer some of the stress of the golf swing to areas of the body better suited to handle it. Here's how to do it.
Sean Foley vs. Stack & Tilt

Sean Foley vs. Stack & Tilt

A quick spin around golf's blogs and chat rooms turns up the claim that Sean Foley teaches a swing that is remarkably similar to Stack & Tilt. View a frame-by-frame comparison of Sean Foley and Stack & Tilt's teaching of the golf swing and decide for yourself.
Sean Foley: Simple Swing Fixes
Make Me Better

Simple Swing Fixes

There are no shortcuts to getting better. You have to put in some work. That's the bad news. The good news is: If you follow Sean Foley's advice, the things you have to do to improve—and make that improvement last—can be fairly simple. If you break your swing into these five segments and spend time practicing all five, you'll be a better golfer in 2011.

April 2011
Sean Foley's Tips For Power
Sean Foley: 2 Minute Tip

Tips For Power


To generate power, you might have been told you need to create torque by holding your hips back as you turn your upper body away from the target. But this can restrict your backswing and inhibit your ability to swing down from inside the target line and hit the ball solidly. Instead, allow your lower body (hips and pelvis) to turn away from the target with your upper body. Not only will this give you room to swing the club down from the inside, it will allow you to load up for a tremendous hit.

November 2010
Sean Foley's Tips For Power

Images of John Daly taking the club well past parallel left many golfers with the idea that a long backswing is the key to smashing the ball. But most golfers don't have Daly's hand-eye coordination and, no matter how much they increase their clubhead speed, that extra-long swing makes it very difficult to hit the ball flush. Solid contact is more important than clubhead speed. You'd fare better by shortening your swing, which will help you hit the ball with the center of the clubface.
Sean Foley's Tips For Power

Too often amateurs try to maintain their address posture as they swing down to the ball. Many have been told to do this to counter their instinct to stand straight up as the club approaches impact, which leads to poor contact. Instead, feel as if you're squatting as you start the downswing. The best way to increase your power is to use the ground as leverage. As you start down, really push into the turf with your left leg. You'll feel as if your body dips then rises as you hit the ball.
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