After several months a lot of the hype, bitterness, and defense have settled, I want to give a review of Hank Haney’s book The Big Miss.
When I first learned that Hank was going to write the book I thought “cool, it will be interesting to learn more about Hank’s and Tiger’s time together. I have been a friend of Hank for over quite some time. When Hank was working with Tiger we would exchange emails about Tiger and how the press was “beating” Hank up on the things he and Tiger were working on. In fact, in a Sports Illustrated article I predicted that Tiger would fire Butch and hire Hank as his coach in 2003.
It is no secret that Hank has had a huge influence on my teaching and I credit him as being one of my main mentors. I know Hank and the kind of gentleman he is. I wanted to read the book with an open mind and not let my friendship influence my review of his book.
I am first amazed at how so many people have “bashed” the book and Hank who have not read it. That is just foolish. You can’t form an opinion without having all of the facts. That is like not voting and then complaining about the results. Most people’s perception of the book comes from a careful leak of mostly spicy revelations. Most of these were taken out of context and so some people said that there was a teacher-client confidentiality breach. Those people think vindictive humiliation as the primary motive of him writing the book.
After reading the book 3 times my view of the book was that Hank wanted to talk about his time working with what he says “the greatest player to ever play the game.” As he said that they were memories of his time with Tiger. I don’t think Tiger had complete claim to those memories. I sensed Haney’s primary goal was to document an amazing time in sports history and his small-but-influential role in some of the best golf ever played.
Hank reveals Woods’ purposefulness, eccentricity and drive, which any sports fan suspects is at the core of the all-time greats. Not for a minute do you suspect he is making anything up for dramatic effect. Tiger is a workaholic who loves the game, loves trying to improve and likes winning majors. And for the first time in the history of golf literature, we get a behind-the-scenes look at how an all-time great works. Many times the details are not pretty, but most of the journey Hank takes us on reveals a relentless passion to thrive in an era when so many professionals appear content to occasionally contend and collect healthy checks.
I believe a lot of the back lash from other instructors comes from pure envy and resentment. Many of them have not read the book. This was their chance to thump Hank. It is clear Hank’s tone is genuine and steadily modest throughout. He only time he interjects a “plug” is when he clearly stats the fact that Tiger had more wins under his watch that he did with Butch. But I will say he treated Butch with the utmost respect in the book. This is a trait of all great instructors.
So if you haven’t read the book due to some of the malicious excerpts you have read. Believe me they do not paint an accurate representation of the book. It is carefully written, very fascinating and presents Tiger in a positive light.
If I were asked to recommend a book for an aspiring young golfer, The Big Miss would be the first title I’d select for most of today’s Tiger-wannabes. It would motivate them to work much harder than they currently do.