Long before Tiger and Hank, there was
Tiger and Butch.
It was Butch Harmon’s unerring eye that
chaperoned Woods’ early swing onto golf’s
Big Stage. It was Harmon’s instructional
supervision that helped enable Woods to
realize, so quickly, the vision he had
dreamed as a small child.
Harmon knew about these kinds of
dreams because he had sat, as a young
boy, at the foot of Ben Hogan. Hogan played
practice rounds with Butch’s father, Claude
Harmon, who himself won a Masters and
who many still believe was the greatest
teacher who ever lived.
The apple didn’t fall very far from the
tree. For more than a decade now Butch
Harmon has been recognized by his peers as
the No. 1 teaching professional in the game.
His students have included Greg Norman,
Seve Ballesteros, Phil Mickelson and Woods,
just to name a precious few.
Harmon recently spent time with Brian
Hewitt, The Post’s Editor-in-Chief, for an
engaging Q&A. As usual, Harmon pulled
What will Tiger’s future bring? Why is Phil
the modern-day Arnold Palmer? How do Tiger
and Phil really get along? Who has the best
swing in golf? Who has Butch’s favorite swing?
What was the secret behind Hogan’s secret?
Who has the best hands in golf? Of the current
great players, which one would Harmon liked
to have worked with but never did?
For the answers to all of these questions
and much more, read on.
MARCH 12, 2012
THE POST First, a question about
you. You’ve worked with several
world No. 1s. As a teacher, what
does it mean to you to be recognized as No. 1 in the world at
what you do?
HARMON Well, I think a lot of
times in life, no matter what profession you’re in, you win awards
or accolades, but when you get
something that people who do
what you do consistently vote you
number one, it means a lot because of who the voting people are
and they have that belief over the
last 11 or 12 years. It’s very gratifying in knowing that part of that
work that other people appreciate
as much as I do.
THE POST Is there any one player
now, or from the past, that you
haven’t worked with that you
would love to have worked with?
HARMON Well, I don’t solicit any
business. I’m not one that goes
out behind another teacher’s
back and talks to people and sort
of like, ‘I can help you,’ like a lot
of guys do. But if there was one
person that I wished I had an opportunity to work with that I think
I could help and I still think I could
help, it would be Retief Goosen.
THE POST I’m not sure that a lot of
people would have guessed Retief
Goosen would have been the
answer to that question.
HARMON If you look at Retief’s
history, under a lot of pressure
down the stretch, at times, he
tends to hit some quick pull hooks.
And for me, I think there’s a little
bit of a flaw in his mechanics that
creates that and I would love to
have the opportunity to try and
help him. But, once again, I’m not
saying I’d ever contact him.
THE POST On the subject of hooking the golf ball ... didn’t Hogan
say hitting a hook was like finding
a snake in your bag? Or words to
HARMON Both my dad and Hogan
hooked the ball a lot in their early
careers. So they hated the hook.
Both of them, through their years
of practice together and working,
said you had to draw the ball when
you had to. But in reality they
hated to see a hook.
THE POST If Hogan were around
today, and still in his prime and
he came to you and said, ‘Butch,
would you take a look and see
what you could help me with?’
would you leave it alone or would
you have to take today’s equipment into consideration?
HARMON I think you have to take
equipment into consideration but A