Hank Haney should really learn to keep his mouth shut. In a recent tweet, Hank Haney shared the idea that Tiger's reason for struggling at the 2013 United States Open at Merion Golf Club was because Tiger did not prepare well enough before the tournament. Hank went on to say that he has seen Tiger prepare in the past when he was Tiger's coach and in his opinion it was not enough preparation for Tiger to win the event.
Beyond the fact that Hank really has no direct knowledge of what it takes to win a major tournament, Hank should have refrained from making any comments about his former pupil. For starters, he has no first-hand knowledge of what Tiger did to prepare for Merion. Yes, he's watched Tiger prepare for majors in the past, but he has no idea what Tiger did at Merion. None.
The real issue I have with the comments has more to do with attaching Hank's name to Tiger's. Many golf professionals and YouTube savants have taken to using Ben Hogan as the model for their swing. I often take issue with this sort of strategy because as far as I can tell these people have no first-hand knowledge of Ben Hogan was doing in his golf swing. Sure there is anecdotal evidence from watching Hogan swing videos, but many of these teachers have no idea what Hogan's intentions were. They are simply attempting to profit from associating Ben Hogan's name with themselves.
Haney is doing the exact same thing with Tiger. In order to remain in the golfing ecosystem, Haney continues to use Tiger's name and continues to profit from Tiger's name. Hank may claim that he no longer needs to use Tiger's name because he has already sworn off teaching PGA Tour players, but I call bull on that. I am sure that to keep himself on shows like "The Haney Project" he needs to stay relevant. Without shows like this, he would quickly fall into obscurity and not be anywhere near as popular as he is now. I could be all wrong about this, but I see no other purpose to mention Tiger unless it is to stay relevant.
I was (perhaps in the minority) just fine with the book that Hank wrote. He did let out some things that he should not have, but for the most part I felt I learned much more about the psyche of Hank than I learned anything about Tiger. Hank was very concerned about his image and he wanted to make it abundantly clear that all of Tiger's problems in his swing were because Tiger wanted to work on his swing by himself and when he listened to Hank, Tiger played better than ever. The book left me feeling that Hank is very insecure about himself as a teacher and he wanted everyone to know that all of the problems were not his fault.
But now the comments go way too far. He already profited using Tiger's name by writing the book that in my opinion should have been the last time he ever used Tiger's name.
Every person's approach to preparing for a major is different. In college I would study for tests like crazy, my roommate would seemingly glance over the textbook and get much better grades than I ever did. He would often tell me that if he spent as much time on the material as I did, he would fail the class because his mind would be too full. The point is, everyone is different. Hank may think that Tiger needs to study every blade of grass, and that may work for Hank, but it may not work for Tiger. I don't see how Hank thinks that his method for success is the same as everyone else's.
Tiger's success this year is tied to the putter. He went on a tear because his putter got hot. So hot that he was ranked first in putts gained for the first half of the season. At the Memorial it cooled way down and he could not regain the fire and struggled at Merion. Simple as that. Could some preparation have improved his play? I really have no idea, simply because I don't know what makes Tiger perform at his highest level. I am just not sure that Hank knows either, and find the grasping to stay relevant to be obnoxious at best.
Photo credits: © Scott Halleran.