by Jeff Skinner
Tiger Woods is back in the market for a new swing coach. You would think that there would be plenty of candidates for the job. I mean every year Golf Digest gives us their Top 50 Teachers so Tiger already has a list of top guys just sitting there.
Any of them would take Tiger’s call…for sure. Well maybe some of them. Tiger has already burned through a few of them.
The perennial top teacher in the world is Butch Harmon and his record is unmatched. No one coach had helped more golfers win more majors or coached more number one players that Butch. But El Tigre already burned that bridge.
During their time Woods won 8 majors in 24 starts, 34 PGA Tour titles and never missed a major due to injury. But Tiger moved on from Harmon in 2003 in search of the perfect swing.
Could he go back to the best? No way. Harmon said he wouldn’t do it and he also said Tiger would never call. There can be only one alpha dog in the house. Butch and Tiger are alpha dogs…big, really big alpha dogs. They were very successful together but coexistence isn’t possible now.
Tiger’s second coach was Hank Haney and while Haney has had good success, he’s 11th on the top coaches list; he wasn’t a dominating personality like Harmon.
Haney’s instruction served Tiger well and the Haney Swing won Tiger six majors (one on a broken leg) and 31 PGA Tour titles. But as Tiger does he is constantly looking for something new and that wasn’t good enough.
Soon after Tiger’s comeback from the scandal he jettisoned Haney. Shortly thereafter Haney dished on Tiger and his relationship in his book The Big Miss. End of story.
Tiger doesn’t tolerate those that speak outside the Tiger Circle. Hank isn’t getting any Christmas cards from Tiger.
Tiger just axed number two on the list, Sean Foley who probably got there because of his association with Tiger. But Tiger’s failure to win a major with Foley shouldn’t be cause to think that Foley’s methods don’t work.
Hunter Mahan just won The Barclays, his sixth PGA win with Foley. Justin Rose won the U.S. Open under his tutelage and also has six PGA Tour wins. Mahan is 19th in the world, Rose is 5th. Foley can coach and maybe it was just a bad fit with Woods.
Butch had a great point when he said Foley had the toughest job of all Tiger’s coaches. He got Tiger post scandal and what he had to work with was a soon to be broken Tiger. Woods hasn’t won a single major under Foley but the telling fact is that he has missed four majors due to injuries while with Foley.
So the next candidate for Foley’s old job should realize that like baseball managers “you get hired to get fired.”
As far as likely candidates, the web is full of analysts trying to guess Tiger’s next move. But likely candidates should think long and hard before they sign on to Camp Woods.
It requires long hours, jetting around the world on a moment’s notice, the ability to fix a slice…and a hook, Track Man skills, the ability to communicate with Tiger but with no one else, thick skin, strong self-belief and the ability to live with the biggest alpha dog on the block.
One more thing: he must work cheap. Woods thinks that anyone associated with him gets enough juice from their partnership. And that may be true but Tiger has deep pockets and short arms.
Foley had said that teaching the best player in the world was always a dream of his. Tiger’s next coach may be getting Tiger Woods but he’s not getting the best player in the world any longer.