Claude (Butch) Harmon Jr. gained fame and fortune through rebuilding the swings of Greg Norman and Tiger Woods. He teaches neither superstar now – Woods terminated their $50,000 annual arrangement last year – but is busier and richer than ever.
The self-proclaimed workaholic teaches about 20 touring pros for free, runs a lucrative golf school in Las Vegas, has endorsement contracts with about a dozen companies, makes $500 per hour on individual lessons, charges $50,000 apiece for roughly six corporate outings per year and serves as an analyst on seven of England’s Sky Sports golf telecasts during his 15-20 weeks on the road.
Though he would like to trim his days away from home, the happily remarried Harmon says he has never been as pleased with his life. He said he’s grateful to Norman and Woods for his elevated place.
“I made a lot of money because of my association with Tiger Woods,” said the eldest of 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon’s four sons, all golf instructors. “You can’t put a dollar amount on it, but I’d have to say millions. I never thought I’d make the amount of money I have.”
Especially considering where he was in 1981 after getting fired as head professional at Crow Valley Country Club in Iowa. Harmon was jobless, in debt and sleeping on his brother Dick’s couch in Houston.
“I just got lost in life,” Harmon said. “I made bad decisions, did things that were goofy. I had no direction in my life. I wasn’t living. I was drinking too much and gambling too much, doing all the things you shouldn’t do. I was in a don’t-give-a-(crap) mode. I was soul-searching and broke.
If it wasn’t for my brothers Dickie and Craig bailing me out of debt and giving me moral support, I don’t know what would’ve happened.”
Harmon worked construction for Dave Marr and Jay Revere’s course design firm for three years. Driving tractors and bulldozers made him realize how much he missed teaching golf. He got back into it at Bayou Golf Club in Texas City, Texas, where 20 years ago he charged $25 for an hour-long lesson.
That was then. This is now.
“Things have turned out just miraculously,” Harmon said. “Both personally and professionally. I have the most wonderful wife. I have never been as happy.”