Hank Haney defends his Tiger tell-all, and why he’s sworn off teaching Tour pros
It’s been a year since you released The Big Miss, your much buzzed-about chronicle of your years with Tiger. Has life calmed down?
Oh yeah. It’s been great. Now that people have read the book, every day I get positive comments, so I feel really great about it. I never dreamed that I would be a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author, so it’s obviously something I’m very proud of. The message was primarily about the greatness that is Tiger Woods, the dedication, determination, all those things, what it was like to coach him. I wanted to write about my experiences. The No. 1 response that I get to the book, by far, is people saying, “I was a big Tiger Woods fan, and now I’m a bigger fan.”
How do you respond to people who say you violated Tiger’s trust by writing the book?
There’s nothing I can say. I don’t understand that thinking. I don’t think [Tiger] has an exclusive on the memories. I was writing about my experiences, my memories. There’s a long list of coaches that have written books. Does every coach who’s written a book violate somebody’s trust, or is it just me? Am I the only one? I’m not sure I understand that.
Did the level of criticism you received catch you off guard?
No, not really, because the criticism was all before the book came out. I don’t get any criticism after they’ve read the book. I had a great six years, I wanted to share my experiences. I’m asked all the time about it, about Tiger and what it was like to work with him, and what he was like as a student. I wanted to tell people. The book was a great inside look into the greatness that is Tiger Woods.
Now that you have a year’s worth of perspective, is there any part of the book you would have omitted or written differently?
No, absolutely not. I spent probably 200 hours reviewing that book, so I was very comfortable with everything [in there]. I really felt like it all related to the golfer that was Tiger, what his mindset was and all those things. There’s nothing I would have changed.
If you could say one thing to Tiger today, in person, what would it be?
Thanks for the opportunity. But I already told him that. I told him that when I left, that it was the opportunity of a lifetime. It was good for both of us. He won a lot of golf tournaments, and I had an incredible experience. I made sure I told him thank you, and he thanked me, too.
Will Tiger win another major?
I’d be shocked if Tiger didn’t win another major. He’s just too good. But having said that, he’s getting older, he’s had injuries, he’s changed his swing again. It’s a hard game. But he’s Tiger Woods, and I expect him to win every time he plays. I’m shocked every time he doesn’t win because I know how good he is.
What’s the biggest misconception about PGA Tour swing gurus?
Probably how much they help players, and how little they help players—both sides of the spectrum. It’s like, “Oh, he could win with anybody,” and then it’s like, “It’s all the teacher’s fault.” Which one is it? But the reality is, there’s no teacher that’s ever hit a shot. The players hit the shots.
You’ve said that you’re done working with Tour pros. So if a rising star was looking for a coach...
No, no. I’ll never teach [on Tour] again.
Even Rory McIlroy?
Rory is doing just fine with what he’s doing. I taught Tour pros for 32 years, and I taught the person that I think is the greatest player in history, during a period of time when he won more tournaments than he won at any other period in his career. So where do you go from there? And where would you want to go from there? I’m very happy to do other things in my life.