The Big Miss: Interview with Hank Haney

The Big Miss: Interview with Hank Haney

As many of you know, I am Tiger’s biggest fan. I have been watching Tiger Woods on TV for as long as I can remember, and have followed him over the years. I even collect his memorabilia. If there is a magazine or a book that has his face on it, I want it. I probably already have it! Speaking of books, the latest book about Tiger has been getting some press. It came out right before the Masters, and while Tiger didn’t play very well at Augusta, the book has been flying off the shelf. It’s a good book, and I highly recommend it if you haven’t already got it. The book is called The Big Miss, written by Hank Haney, and talks about his years coaching Tiger Woods. Tiger is probably the best golfer to ever play the game… I can’t imagine having spent so much time with the man helping him win tournaments and majors. When the book came out, I reached out to Hank and requested an interview. I wanted to help promote the book, but I also wanted to learn more about Hank and what he has going on all over the world with his golf schools. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Hank Haney, former coach to Tiger Woods and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

Your book The Big Miss just came out. Explain a little bit more about why you wrote the book and the reception you have seen since the book came out.

Anytime you are in a position to observe greatness like I was with Tiger for six years you are asked about it all the time. Everywhere I go I am asked what it was like to work with Tiger and about his greatness. I wanted to share my experiences and observations. The reception for the book has been incredible. I never dreamed that it would be a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

People can order an autographed copy of the book on your website. How many copies did you sign to get ready for that?

I started signing books as soon as I got them and haven’t stopped. I have signed over 5,500 books so far.

The Big Miss explains your years coaching Tiger Woods. I know you talk about it in the book, but how did you and Tiger begin working together?

Tiger had been without a coach for almost two years, I believe, when he called me and asked me to help him. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a teacher.

You have a couple of golf schools in Texas. I spent a lot of time in Texas last year working with The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship. That takes place out at Whispering Pines Golf Club. Have you ever played Whispering Pines?

I never have played Whispering Pines Golf Club, but I have heard only great things about it.

What is The PlaneFinder?

The PlaneFinder is a teaching/training aid that helps golfers find his or her correct swing plane. It is a practice aid that has helped a lot of golfers improve.

You are all over Twitter. Where do you find the time to tweet as much as you do? Also, thanks for being so engaged with your fans. That is something I can appreciate and respect.

I have really enjoyed Twitter and especially helping my followers with their golf games. Whenever I have any extra time I try to answer some questions. The game of golf has been incredibly great to me and I like to feel that I am giving back a little bit; Twitter is one of the ways that I can.

How often do you play?

I play golf as much as I can. If I am not working there is a good chance that I am playing golf somewhere. My wife Suzanne is really getting into playing so we play a lot together. I will play at least 100 rounds this year.

Speaking of your golf schools, you have several schools around the country. Do you visit them all on a regular basis?

We have four Hank Haney Golf Academies in Dallas where I live and I visit those academies the most. My Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA) on Hilton Head Island is something that I am very proud of and I spend about a total of two weeks a year there. Last year we opened the Hank Haney Golf Academy at Mission Hills on Hainan Island in China and I make at least two trips a year to China.

Tell me more about the online lessons that you do.

I do a lot of short free swing analysis for my followers on Twitter. Obviously I can’t look at everyone but I try to look at a least a few a day. My teaching staff does a much more extensive online swing analysis program with Online Skills Coach and we have been very active in getting that program up and going. We have done well over 1,000 online lessons so far.

You have won a lot of awards as a PGA teaching professional. Does any one award mean more to you than the next?

Winning the PGA Teacher of the Year award was the highlight for me. A lot of great teachers have won that award and to have my name on the list means a lot to me.

I love The Haney Project. You worked with guys like Ray Romano and Charles Barkley. I bet that is fun. Will we be seeing more from The Haney Project anytime soon?

We are talking about next year right now and who we are going to have on the show. The Haney Project has been fun for me to do and has turned into a great brand as well. I can’t believe how many people tell me they watch and enjoy the show. Everyone has their favorite student from The Haney Project but Charles is #1 for sure.

In your honest opinion, do you think Tiger will break Jack’s record?

Tiger still has plenty of time to break Jack’s major championship record. I really think he needs to get a major this year. If he doesn’t win a major this year it will have been four years without a major and that will probably make him feel like he has to go faster at a time when he is slowing down. Having said all that, I would never bet against Tiger Woods.

You have the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. We all know junior golf is important, but what is your focus with junior golf as we try to grow this game?

I have always been involved with junior golf and it continues to be a big part of our focus in our teaching programs. We have great summer programs both in Dallas and at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head that really get kids started in improving their games. The full time academy in Hilton Head has been something that I have really enjoyed. Seeing kids playing golf and learning all the great things that golf teaches you about life in general has been very rewarding to me. Without a doubt the focus on growing the game of golf needs to be centered around getting kids to play the game, hopefully we are doing our part in helping that happen.

Some guys call it teaching, while others call it coaching. What do you call it? Is there a difference?

It can be both. Teaching is more just giving a lesson and coaching is more about working on everything that is involved with playing the game of golf.  I have always thought of myself as more of a coach than a teacher.

Have you ever had a hole-in-one?

I have had three of them. They are not easy to make, so I have enjoyed them all and I am really looking forward to making another one soon.

What is your favorite major on the PGA TOUR?

It would have to be the Masters. Augusta National is such a special place and the tournament is always so much fun to watch.

Tell me a little bit more about the “Fix The Yips Forever” schools.

The yips is a unique problem that affects golfers with not only putting but with the chipping and full swing as well. Our studies have shown that over 25% of all golfers suffer from the yips with putting so it is a big problem with golfers. Our schools help students deal with the yips and the results have been very exciting.

I just saw you have an iPhone app. How do you think technology, and social media for that matter, has changed the way you give lessons and connect with people all over the world?

My app is a great tool to help people improve their golf game, and it is free. Without a doubt technology has changed the game of golf from equipment to teaching tools to club fitting. I certainly think that in the future of online lessons and online learning is going to be popular one way or another.

You grew up near Chicago. There are some great golf courses up there. Do you ever make it back to the Windy City?

Growing up in Chicago I got to play a lot of great courses. I grew up at Exmoor Country Club, which was an old Donald Ross course that was founded in 1896. It is still one of my favorite courses. I try to make it back there every year to play.

Rick Smith said, “I would rather be broke and not have a penny to my name (than) violate the code of player-teacher confidentiality.” Do you think you broke that code with The Big Miss?

Rick is entitled to his opinion but obviously I have a different one. I am not the first coach to have written a book. In fact there is a long line of coaches that have written books including names like Phil Jackson, Pat Reilly, Bill Walsh, Joe Torre and countless others. Did they break the code also? As I have said many times before, the memories that Tiger and I shared from our time working together weren’t just his memories, they were mine too.

There are a lot of great golf courses out there. Do you have a favorite?

When I play I must admit that I am more into the golf experience than just the golf course. My favorite golf courses are Pine Valley, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews but all the Discovery Land courses are my favorite golf experiences. El Dorado Golf & Beach Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is my #1.

You thank Tiger at the end of the book. Having read the book, I am not sure why people seem to look down on you for writing it. The book was extremely fair. Since there are so many people taking shots at you for writing it, how do you handle that negative press?

Now that people have had a chance to read my book The Big Miss the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. People love the insight into the greatness that is Tiger Woods and the insight that I provide into coaching a great athlete. The only really negative feedback that I get is from people that still think I shouldn’t have written a book but like I said, we will just have to agree to disagree on that one.

Do you have plans on a book signing tour? I would love to meet you and have you sign my copy!

I have been doing a lot of appearances all over the country signing books and have had a great time doing those. The schedule is something that is ever evolving but I hope to do many more book signings.

You travel a lot. Do you have a favorite airline?

I do travel a lot and last year alone I flew over 150,000 miles on American Airlines so that would have to be my favorite airline.

What is next for Hank Haney?

I am working on a lot of exciting projects. I have a lot of things I would like to accomplish and a plan to get them done.

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