In Hank Haney’s new book – “The Big Miss” – about his six years as Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Haney tells a two-part story.
There’s the golf story, about what it was like to be responsible for re-sculpting Woods’ swing and helping him win six major championships in their time together.
Then there’s the personal story, about what it was like to spend hundreds of days and nights with Woods, being allowed a peek behind the curtain Woods has fought to keep around his private life. It’s a rare glimpse and, unless you’re into swing theory, it’s the most interesting part of the book, which becomes available Tuesday ($26, Crown Archtype).
Haney tells us about:
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• Woods’ fascination with the Navy SEALS that included participating in multiple training exercises and his apparent consideration of joining the SEALS and forsaking his golf career.
• How his SEALS training might have led to the Achilles and knee injuries that have hampered him.
• Seeing Woods struggle after the scandal erupted surrounding his personal life and how Woods’ ex-wife Elin wanted him to quit golf for two years.
• How detached Woods could be even to his inner circle, including Haney.
• His sense watching Woods prepare for the final round of the 2010 Masters that he would soon be fired and that Woods, in his mind, would never again be the player he was.
It’s interesting, no doubt, and it’s the most revealing look at Woods we’ve gotten, right down to the text messages they shared.
Woods, you may have noticed, has avoided talking about the book, having not offered his blessing to either Haney or writer Jaime Diaz, whom I and many others consider the best golf writer in the business. “The Big Miss” may be about Woods, but it’s not his book and it’s easy to understand his irritation at having his personal life told in a former confidant’s book. So much for the notion of implied confidentiality.
Have we learned anything earth-shaking?
Not really, but the picture of the private Tiger has come into slightly sharper focus. He’s not a warm and fuzzy guy, but we had a pretty good idea of that already.
Still, it’s only part of the picture. We may never get the full picture until Tiger decides to tell his own story and, even then, it will be interesting to see how deep he goes, if he goes there at all.
Did Haney go too far?
It’s surprising how much Haney shared. It will help book sales but it feels like he’s telling stories Woods never imagined would be told publicly. Haney tells of sitting in Woods’ home in the evening with Tiger and his wife watching television and, in at least one case, wishing Tiger would offer him a popsicle when the golfer would get one for himself. It’s a small moment but Haney uses it to offer his perception of Woods.
No wonder Tiger is bothered by the book. Someone else is writing about his private life, apparently without his permission. It may be a cost of celebrity but it’s easy to understand if he feels his trust has been betrayed.
If you’re Haney and you start down that road, where do you stop? The reality is few would buy a book about Haney’s swing theories as applied to Tiger.
I often felt Haney was unfairly burdened by the fact he wasn’t Butch Harmon, Tiger’s first coach in his pro career. No matter what Haney and Woods did together, there was a perception it wouldn’t be like what Woods and Harmon did together. Haney deserved more credit than he received.
In his book, Haney tells his side of the story, and it’s an enlightening story. It’s also Tiger’s story, undoubtedly and understandably more of it than he wanted told.