Haney offers three tips for every golfer

Hank Haney with Tiger Woods during a practice round for the 2007 Accenture Match Play.

I always liked Hank Haney. He’s an emotional, passionate instructor who doesn’t hesitate to voice his opinions.

If we look at the teachers who have guided Tiger Woods during his pro career – Butch Harmon, Haney and now Sean Foley – it’s clear that Woods is drawn to a certain flamboyance in his instructors.

On Monday, June 6, TaylorMade announced the signing of Haney. Part of TaylorMade’s official statement said “Haney will represent the TaylorMade brand by playing and teaching with TaylorMade equipment.”

When I talked with Haney on the phone, he used the same phrase four different times: “I just love to play golf.”

Looking to the future, he will play a lot of golf and become something of a goodwill ambassador for the game and for TaylorMade.

Teaching individual golfers is not exactly part of the plan. Haney doesn’t really give one-on-one lessons any more. Unless the golfers are named Charles Barkley or Rush Limbaugh.

“When I had the opportunity to teach Tiger, I pretty much decided he was going to be my last student,” Haney reiterated. “I don’t teach private lessons any more.

“I work with the kids at my (Hank Haney International) Junior Academy. I spend time teaching teachers how to teach. I do quite a few corporate things for the various companies I represent (such as Charles Schwab and BMW). There’s my TV show on the Golf Channel (The Haney Project, in which celebrities such as Barkley and Limbaugh look for a cure to golf games that may be incurable).”

Regardless, here’s a Haney lesson. For free.

“I have a very simple concept of golf,” Haney said over the phone. “There are three things you need.

“First, you have to eliminate penalty shots. Golf’s so hard, you can’t add them up two or three (strokes) at a time. You need one swing, one shot.

“Second, you have to eliminate 3-putts. You don’t always have to make a putt. You get outside 15 or 18 feet, even the touring pros make only about seven percent of those putts.

“Third, you have to eliminate two shots (from the same position) – for example, two pitches or two sand shots. You don’t have to get the ball up and in, but you have to get it on the green.”

I thought about this for a long time, and I admire Haney for his efforts at simplifying the game.

Most of us need to get real about golf. If we could banish all penalty shots and all 3-putt greens from our games, we would be much more consistent. If we could eliminate all instances around the green in which we take four shots to get up-and-in, our scores would go down.

Or how about this goal: Play 18 holes without a double bogey. It’s not as easy as it might seem.

Try keeping a chart with just two columns.

In one column, list all the rounds without a penalty shot, 3-putt green, 4-shot greenside play, or double bogey.

In another column, list all the rounds with at least one of these mistakes. Be specific. Write down all the mistakes.

Compare the columns. Compare the scores over a period of time. Look for trends. Performing well in the basics should translate into better and more enjoyable golf.

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