Hank Haney, premier golf instructor, visited America’s Largest Demo Days, the Haggin Oaks Golf Expo, on Friday, April 29, 2016.
Probably best known as the former golf coach for Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods, Hank Haney took the ESPN Radio 1320 Golf-to-Go Stage with Frank LaRosa to talk about his career, his former students and tips to help any golfer improve their game.
Haney has always been a golfer. He attended the University of Tulsa on a scholarship and immediately started teaching after his college career at John Jacobs’ Golf Schools. Haney credits John Jacobs as having a huge influence on his career. At the age of 23, Haney was running the instructional program at Pinehurst. And it was at Pinehurst, that Haney met O’Meara.
“People have a dream to play better golf, but they don’t have a plan. The ticket to better golf is to put together a plan,” instructs Haney. “From Mark O’Meara to Tiger Woods, the trick is to create a plan and to keep moving forward. The plan should systematically move you from A to Z. You may never make it past C or D, but you need to have that plan in place. If you don’t have a plan, then golf is just exercise. “
Haney met Mark O’Meara during O’Meara’s second year on Tour and this teaching relationship helped jumpstart Haney’s professional career among Tour Players. According to Haney, “I felt I knew a little about the back swing.”
Hank is also proud of the work he did with Tiger Woods, who won 45% of the tournaments he played while working with Haney, although Hank is quick to mention that Tiger was a great player before he came to him for help.
Hank also recommends that you continue to work on your game, regardless of your current playing level. “You are either getting better or getting worse. There is no such thing as staying the same,” Haney told the crowd at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex. Hank advised Tiger Woods, “If you ever get lost, just retrace your steps.”
LaRosa asked Haney about the current state of Tiger’s career and his chances of making a comeback. According to Haney, “I don’t know what you can expect. His game is really diminished. He has missed 6 ½ of the last 9 years.” Tiger’s time away from the game has primarily been due to injuries.
Hank believes Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer ever. You have to look at his record and there’s no denying Jack’s 18 major championship wins and 19 second place finishes. However, Haney is quick to point out that, “No one has ever played the game like Tiger Woods. It is unfortunate that injuries have robbed Tiger of the opportunity to chase Jack Nicklaus’ records. “
When Jordan Spieth’s finish at the 2016 Masters was mentioned, Haney commented that in 2015, Spieth was the most improved player on Tour. In 2015, he moved from 159th place to 49th place for greens hit in regulation. Spieth’s game isn’t as good this year. However, “at the end of the day, [Spieth] has played in 3 Masters Tournaments and only 2 people have beaten him.” There is no arguing with that!
What does Hank Haney think about America’s showing in the past few Ryder Cups? Haney is quick to come to the point, “The reality of the Ryder Cup is that we didn’t have as good of players.” This year it’s a whole different situation. “Both teams have 4 top 10 players on their teams. We have 16 of the top 25 players and they have 8. We should win this year. I anticipate this time things will be different as we have the better team.”
How does Hank Haney approach teaching? According to Haney, it is the same for everyone, amateurs and Tour Pros’ alike. You have to fix “your ‘Big Miss.’” For most people, their ‘Big Miss’ is hitting their driver. The answer is simple – fix the player’s bad shot. What is your ‘Big Miss’? Do you slice the ball? Hook it? Do you shank it?
No conversation with Hank would be complete without mentioning Charles Barkley and The Haney Project. Hank recalls an early conversation he had where Barkley said, “Hank, the Golf Channel says I have the worst swing in the world. (Pause) There’s no way they’ve seen every golfer in the world.” This brought a chuckle from the crowd during the Haggin Oaks Golf Expo. Hank Haney has taught the entire spectrum in his career, including the best golfer in the world (Tiger Woods) and arguably the worst (Charles Barkley). That is an impressive feat!
Frank LaRosa asked , “Where will we see Hank Haney in 5-10 years?” The answer? Hank sees himself on Sirius XM PGA Tour radio. He has helped over 200 Touring Pros in his career. These days, his focus is on teaching amateurs and giving back to the game that has given so much to him.