Butch Harmon has been voted the top golf instructor for what seems like forever. Few instructors/coaches/gurus, whatever you label them can boast such a heralded list of players that have heeded the gospel according to Butch.
Of course there’s Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman and Ernie Els and Freddy Couples. But there’s also Adam Scott, Davis Love III, Justin Rose, Stewart Cink, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Natalie Gulbis. And there is no counting the number of times Butch just helps out as he walks the range with players who aren’t in his stable.
He knows the golf swing and he knows people just as well. And he learned most of that from his dad, Claude Harmon Sr.
You see Butch is actually Claude Harmon Jr, the first son of Claude Sr. who spent most of his life imparting his knowledge of the game to all his boys as the head pro at Winged Foot Golf Club. And he must have known what he was talking about as he is still the last club professional to win a major, the 1948 Masters. That will get you some street cred.
Butch and his brothers Craig, Billy and Dick all grew up to be well respected teachers and pros at very well to do clubs. And when you’re a kid hanging around your dad and his pal’s, one of which is named Ben Hogan you’re sure to pick up few tips on the game.
Now, as star studded as Claude Jr’s, (Butch) hit parade is I’d have to say that his dad’s gives him a run for his money.
The patriarch of golf writers, Dan Jenkins in his book of essays, “Unplayable Lies” tells us what an amazing list of golfers Claude Sr. had worked with.
First there is the impressive list of former assistant pros that came through Winged Foot working under Claude that went on to have distinguished pro careers: Jackie Burke, Dave Marr, Mike Souchak, Rod Funseth and Al Mengert.
And some more of his students were famous for reasons other than golf.
From Jenkins’ essay Top Guru: I can still hear Claude saying, “If a man tells me he knew President Eisenhower, I would ask him how President Eisenhower liked his steaks cooked. I know how he liked his steaks cooked—with a layer of salt on both sides. And he liked a sliced onion sandwich on light bread with mustard. Good for the heart. I knew Ike. I taught Ike.”
“Claude taught Kennedy, Nixon and Ford, not to overlook Howard Hughes, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Henry Ford, the Duke of Windsor and King Hassan of Morocco.”
That’s some resume and I guess Butch followed even deeper in his dad’s footsteps when he gave President Obama a few lessons awhile ago.
Like his dad, Butch Harmon is the teacher of his time and although he may have swapped out Winged Foot for his Butch Harmon School of Golf in Las Vegas he hasn’t strayed too far from his father’s knee.