If all it took was to have a multiple-major-winning father to guarantee PGA Tour stardom for a son, you’d have heard much more about the Nicklauses, Players, Floyds and Millers who aspired to play high-level professional golf. Charlie Woods isn’t going to get there on pure pedigree. But if you can draw lessons from a Mt. Olympus-level tactician and competitor dad—AND show off form that would make a college all-American jealous, it’s fun to speculate about what could be.
We asked Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Randy Smith to analyze swings from Woods’ televised debut at the PNC Championship, and the experienced junior and college player advisor was as impressed as anyone. “The swings you see here are way more structured than any precocious 11-year-old I’ve ever been around,” says Smith, who has guided players like Justin Leonard and Scottie Scheffler from childhood to the tour in his more than 40 years of coaching.
“You see plenty of kids at this age who can whale at it. Charlie is not only strong enough to support the club, but he makes a swing that matches the shot he’s hitting. He’s not hitting balls. He’s hitting shots.”
Smith’s frame-by-frame technical commentary starts below, but he says the way Charlie carries himself is as much of an achievement as the mechanical refinement he shows off when he swings.
“When I go to a junior tournament to watch a player, I’m looking at what he or she is doing before the round and between shots as much as watching the swings,” says Smith.
“Watching Charlie this week is like watching a little tour player. He’s got all the cameras on him, but he’s not fiddling with his bag or looking over at his dad for cues about what he should be doing. The greatest player to ever play is hitting balls, and they don’t even look at each other. It’s so easy to mess a kid up with the wrong kind of training or too much pressure. Nobody is trying to make Charlie look perfect. He’s just doing his thing, and that’s a credit to his dad. I can’t wait to see what he does next, and I’m rooting for him every step of the way.”
Charlie Woods, Dec. 18, 2020, photographed at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando:
Young kids tend to be wild and out of control with their driver. An 11-year-old typically isn’t strong enough to support the weight of the club, so they let the club control their positions. Not this 11-year-old. He gets it light going back and hits the crap out of it. He’s an itty bitty kid, and he doesn’t have a lot of mass, but he’s obviously really strong. He makes it look easy. —Randy Smith
I love the amount of space Charlie is creating here. He takes the club back with a full turn of his shoulders—that’s what we all aspire to do.
There’s nothing loose or wild with his swing. The clubface control at the top? It’s beyond comprehension for his age. Charlie has total feel for where the club is—and you see him plant on his left side and make a balanced finish.