Hank Haney Misses with The Big Miss

by Jeff Skinner

A few years ago during the winter I needed some golf in a desperate way and spent an afternoon at one of those indoor golf shows.  One of the main attractions was an appearance by Hank Haney.  It was long before Tiger-Gate and Haney and Woods were riding high.

I was impressed with Haney and his ability to impart swing theory to a bunch of hackers and how he handled the non-stop Tiger questions.  My, how times have changed.

Haney has taken a ton of heat for his book on the years he spent coaching Tiger.  I finally got to read The Big Miss and Haney certainly got the title right.  Unfortunately it wasn’t Tiger’s big miss, it was Haney’s.

Haney defended his writing this book by claiming that the memories of those years spent together weren’t Tiger’s property alone and that’s a valid point.  But from what I could see Haney drew no line when it came to separating Tiger’s personal and professional life.

Haney had the chance of a lifetime, to work with the greatest golfer of this era and he acknowledges that, but he made a mistake in publishing this kind of book.

Being able to get an inside look on how Tiger Woods spent his professional life would have been good enough for me.  But Haney went way beyond that.  Far too much time is spent dealing with Tiger’s personal life and his problems away from the course.

Tiger’s personal life has been one of the biggest stories in golf for the past two years but reading Haney’s account, from the point of view of a friend seems like a betrayal.  I know that it may be just this information that has kept the book on the New York Times Best Sellers List but he went too far for my taste.

When Haney isn’t psychoanalyzing Woods he is busy congratulating himself for being such a great coach.  He spends time detailing Tiger’s record under Butch Harmon and comparing it to his own record.  Time after time he plays amateur psychiatrist on everything in Tiger’s life.  After awhile it got to be unbearable.

Haney was a very successful coach before Woods tapped him for his dream job.  And while Woods’ coach his reputation grew and he capitalized on his status with television shows, appearance fees and several new endorsements.  He states in The Big Miss that once he coached Woods he knew he never would coach another professional and he’s right.  There’s no chance of any touring pro taking a chance with him.

I have no idea what the world of high profile coach and higher profile player is like.  But I do know that there are things that friends do and say to each other that should remain between friends.  Call it the code or the unwritten rule or whatever but whatever you call it Haney broke it and betrayed his friend.  The big miss was all his.


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