The Big Miss: A Book Review

Hank’s book is pretty revealing, but mostly about himself.

Thrash TalkI must admit, the day Hank’s book came out I went out and bought it. It was not really the excerpts that got me interested but listening to the interviews Hank gave, he gave the impression not of a rat that everyone had made him out to be, but someone who had a story to tell.

After reading the book, I have very mixed feelings, but I will say it has cleared up some real misconceptions in my mind about both Tiger and Hank. I really didn’t learn anything new about Tiger. Hank paints him as a troubled, self-centered, egotistical, golfing genius. All those things are not news, I have always thought those things about Tiger. The big revelation was that Tiger lied to the media… yeah, I knew that too. I would rather watch paint dry than a Tiger press conference, he never says much new and looks like he wants to be there less than I want to watch him. So all in all not much learned about Tiger.

I learned a great deal about Hank though. The big revelation about Hank is how desperate he is to have Tiger’s appreciation for the work that he did. I think Hank wrote the book in order to have everyone hear his story, because I think he worries desperately about his reputation, and he really wanted Tiger to say “thank you.” I am somewhat shocked that Hank is not more confident. He has built a teaching empire even before he ever met Tiger, but he was always looking for acknowledgement from Tiger.

The parts of the book I really don’t like deal mainly with this confidence issue. The first is Hank taking an extremely passive aggressive manner of saying that Tiger doesn’t appreciate anyone (including Haney). To do this he throws a number of people under the bus. He starts with Keith Kleven, Tiger’s trainer, saying that Keith was constantly looking for Tiger to say he appreciated him. I think he is putting words in Keith’s mouth in order to say, “see, look Tiger doesn’t appreciate anyone, and it made Keith crazy.” Maybe this is how Keith feels, but it is not Hank’s place to share that information.

He does the same thing with Steve Williams, saying how Steve was always on his side and how Steve complained about a lack of appreciation, blah, blah. I think you are seeing the theme. He even went as far to out Tiger’s practice friend at Isleworth, Corey Carroll. If I were Corey I would be furious with Hank. I imagine Corey thought that the conversations he had with Hank were private and were never going to make it into a book. I can only imagine if I were Corey having to face Tiger the next time I saw him on the range knowing that some of the personal conversations I had with someone were now all over the headlines.

The other reveling part of Hank’s make up is he very often whined to Tiger through email. Writing five-page emails, complaining about everything from Tiger’s work ethic to how Tiger had swing ADD. All of this makes Hank look small and petty.


Hank also acted as though his suggestion to Tiger in 1999 about his position of the club at the top is what started Tiger on his tear. I think he should have left his time with Butch as what it was, and not tried to take credit for that work. He also goes on to state that his early work with Tiger was an “extension” of the work that Tiger had done with Butch. I think this was unfair because again he should have left the work with Butch alone.

The parts that I do like, and really got me thinking is about Hank’s actual golf coaching. I for one thought that Hank truly screwed up one of the greatest swings ever. I read that Tiger’s swing had gotten to 10 degrees out under Haney.

I no longer think that, in actuality Hank complains that this move, the head dipping down and the inside to out “sling” is what he absolutely hated about Tiger’s swing. He claimed that Tiger did that all on his own and Hank never liked it. To this, I sympathize with Hank. I can imagine if I am a golf coach and I have been telling my student here is the plan we need to work on to get better, and then the student goes off on his own and starts working way off the plan what can the teacher do? Especially when that student is Tiger.

Haney claims that Tiger did follow the plan from 2003-2009 and to be fair to Hank, Tiger’s record during that time is pretty darn good. He states that Tiger started to go off plan towards the end of their time together and this is where Tiger really starts to struggle. He lists a number of other factors, like Tiger switching to a new driver, using a very spinny ball, and so on, all understandable things.

The real conclusion that I get is that many of the things I blamed on Hank were not things that Haney wanted Tiger to do. That certainly gave me a fresh approach. I think Tiger is now following Sean Foley’s plan and is likely to be as dominate as he was provided he can stay on the plan. It seems when Tiger knows where he is going, he is at his best.

I have not talked about Hank delving into Tiger’s personal life, only because I think Hank did it for two reasons. One, he needed some juicy details to make the book sell, and two he was trying to explain Tiger’s mental state. The first reason I understand, but I don’t necessarily agree with and I think this is what has most people so upset. He wanted to market the book, and in fairness when you read the before and after parts many of them seem benign. Take for example the porn incident with Zack Johnson. Hank was trying to show Tiger’s humor and it was all done as a practical joke. It now seems much more harmless. The second reason was not really necessary. He didn’t need to get physiological in the book. Hank is a golf coach and he should probably stick to that.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book. If I were on Tiger’s PR team I would tell Tiger the book is harmless and to not be upset. If anything it gives your fans the opportunity to know more about you which I think they desperately want. If I was on Hank’s PR team I would tell him to lay off the psych stuff but mostly it is a very good book.

Photo credits: © Telegraph.

2 thoughts on “The Big Miss: A Book Review”

  1. Good, objective review that I mostly agree with. There’s no question Hank used Tigers self destruction to promote and sell the book, which made people question his personal ethics. In the end the book is really just a documented set of excuses that Hank can refer to when people are critical of Tigers performance while Hank was his swing coach.

    Hank traded his integrity for a paycheck, he’s not the first, and won’t be the last. Good thing he’s moved on to coaching celebrities on reality television and left coaching pro’s to the professional instructors.

  2. Ditto, I can’t imagine any Pro would seek Haney’s counsel after this book.

    I took one of his all-day group lessons a number of years back at his McKinney, TX facility. I could only stomach his monumental ego for a half day or so.

    Fast forward a few years, I had to smile when I read somewhere that he couldn’t hit a driver if his life depended on it — seems fitting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *