Why Hank Shouldn’t Talk About Tiger

Recently Hank Haney tweeted his opinion on why Tiger struggled at the U.S. Open, I give my opinion on why he should keep his trap shut.

Thrash TalkHank 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.

Haney and Woods

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.

10 thoughts on “Why Hank Shouldn’t Talk About Tiger”

  1. @Groundhog, the author didn’t say he isn’t allowed to say anything, but that he just shouldn’t. You should read the first amendment. 99% of comments that refer to the first amendment are stupid. Yours is not an exception.

  2. As tpjo70 said, I fail to see much distinction between Haney talking about Tiger and Hepp talking about Haney talking about Tiger. Hepp, aren’t you trying to stay relevant by writing about golf celebrities?

    How do you know whether or not Haney had any knowledge of how much Tiger practiced – aren’t you as guilty of making assumptions as you accuse Haney of doing?

    Just curious, since you seem to feel that the end of an employment experience means that the person should never again refer back to that employment or try to make some present or future use of it, is your resume simply a list of your skills, with no “Experience” section? Should Miss America, once her present reign ends, never again mention her achievement (we won’t go into the merits of that)?

    I think what you’re attempting to say, but haven’t come out and stated clearly, is that you feel that there is an unwritten rule that those who coach athletes should never comment on those athletes. Don’t you suppose that if Tiger wanted such a confidentiality provision, he could have arranged for his lawyers to have included one in his contract with Haney?

  3. Wisguy, I see an enormous difference between Hank and I. Consider that Hank makes money based on his relevance in the golf industry. Being Tiger’s coach or ex-coach provides him with a higher status and therefore he can charge us golfers more money for lessons. If Hank doesn’t have the connection to Tiger do you think he gets a show on the Golf Channel? I doubt it. Tiger brought Hank money and fame he would struggle to get on his own. He might very well be a great coach but there are tons of great coaches you have never heard of. As for me, I don’t get paid for this. I do it for the love of writing and talking about golf. So no, I think we are different, very different.

  4. Since Hank has no idea as to what the Tiger Camp is doing with his swing and life, perhaps Hank should keep his comments to what he sees. Hanks’ time with Tiger essentially ended 4 years ago … ancient history.

    Personally, if Hank has nothing positive to say, or does not speak from first-hand knowledge, I would enjoy his disappearance into obscurity.

  5. Getting in way late, but I was about to post what Wisguy said (or much of it, anyway). How in the world do _you_ know what Haney knew about what Tiger’s preparations were? You think Haney doesn’t know people, and they don’t talk? You think he’s not out on tour much of the time? Maybe Haney’s statement was speculation, maybe it wasn’t. But how were you in a position to know which of those things is true? As Wisguy points out, it’s particularly ironic that you would make this criticism of Haney’s alleged speculation based on your speculation about what you think Haney must or must not know (as does “Mr. Desmond,” in his comment).

    Haney may or may not be riding the “Tiger connection” train for money, but again, speculating about his internal motivation is just that — speculation. Some of the complainers here and elsewhere seem to be completely unaware of the fact that Haney was one of the most prominent teachers in the world and worked with quite a few tour players and top amateurs a long time before Tiger Woods ever came around. Why would he be the least bit “insecure” about himself as a teacher?

    As for Hogan, I agree that too many people attach themselves to him and claim to be expositors of “Hogan’s swing theories,” etc., but your argument on this point is odd, seemingly ignoring the fact that Hogan himself wrote books and did short films here and there explaining what he was doing and why he was doing it, in his own perception. The fact that many people have claimed far too much in that regard, or have skewed or distorted or overcomplicated his ideas (they certainly have), doesn’t mean they would need “firsthand knowledge” directly from Hogan, in person (which actually would be _secondhand_ knowledge about the swing anyway), to have at least the potential for knowing what Hogan was doing and intending to do with his swing.

    Minor carps on a good and interesting blogsite overall, but I’m just saying.

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