Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brad Redding is the director of instruction at the Golf Academy at the Grande Dunes Resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and a disciple of Hank Haney, former instructor to Tiger Woods.
How did you get to know Hank?
Many years ago when I was working in Detroit, I went down to Texas to watch Hank teach. Then I tried to learn from the guys that he learned from: Jim Hardy, Jimmy Ballard and John Jacobs. Hank is the reason why I am where I am today. He’s been a great friend and mentor.
Do you think that he and Tiger were a good fit?
They were a great fit. Hank is not the kind of guy who likes the limelight. He likes to be behind the scenes and that was perfect for Tiger. Plus they were good friends. Hank knew Tiger when he was playing amateur golf because Tiger was close friends with one of his students, Trip Kuehne, whom he beat in the finals of 1994 U.S. Amateur.
A lot of your colleagues disagree with you. We recently polled the Top 100 teachers and they were overwhelmingly in favor of Tiger dumping Hank, particularly because his one-method fits all approach didn’t properly address Tiger’s tendencies.
Tiger and Hank were fighting a lot issues when they first got together. Not saying anything bad about Butch, but the golf swing Tiger had with Butch was based all on timing. Also Tiger’s knee was healthier when he was with Butch, whereas with Hank, Tiger was always battling those problems. There were always things that they wanted to do with his swing that he just simply wasn’t quite physically able to do. But he still got the job done.
Well, why did they split?
I think Hank had gotten a little tired. There has been a full-out assault on him. Every armchair golf-swing coach had a comment as to why Tiger’s swing wasn’t good. He was tired of the pounding. When he came to our PGA section to speak in February he already seemed weary from the constant harassing by the press about Tiger. It just got old.
Johnny Miller was one of Hank’s most vocal critics.
Johnny Miller is an idiot. If I were Hank, and thank God he has more class than I do, I would go over and punch him in the face. It’s a ridiculous, dumb statement for him to say that Tiger needs to go find his 2000-era golf swing. I guess that means when he went downhill after injuries, he should have went back and found his U.S. Open-winning swing. Besides when was the last time Miller coached a guy to a U.S. Open win or had a guy of Tiger’s caliber come to him for help. I call him the Howard Stern of golf announcers.
What do you think Hank meant when he said that he learned more from Tiger than Tiger learned from him?
I think he learned a lot about handling a golfer of that caliber. Tiger knows his golf swing very well and that, as Butch and Hank have said, Tiger’s best teacher was his dad Earl, especially on putting.
What do you think Hank will do next?
I think he’s going to focus more on his junior academy in Hilton Head. It’s a wonderful program he’s got down there and with him more hands-on it will only get better. I don’t think he’ll immediately take on another big-name player. I think he will get some rest. He followed Tiger everywhere. He’s got a new wife. So he’s got plenty to do.
Has his confidence as a teacher been shaken by all the criticism?
He is more resolved than ever with his approach to the golf swing. When you sit down and discuss the golf swing with him you see a man with patience, conviction and enthusiasm. He knows how the golf swing works. If you want to call his approach a method, that’s fine. I think everybody has a method, even if they say they don’t.
Why is the approach of 'staying on plane' that you share with Hank the right one?
When you have the club on the proper plane — that is, the angle of the club at address — during the backswing you want the club to stay on or above that plane and on the downswing it should stay on that angle. A perfect swing to me is one that stays on plane from beginning to end.
Back to Tiger’s swing and Butch. What was the problem there?
It went back pretty decent in the beginning, although I don’t think his wrists cocked early enough for Butch. And then as it got near the top it would shift to a steeper plane and he got across the line and as a result he would have to shallow it out to get it back on its initial plane. But when you shallow it out like that, the face opens. So you have to do something with your hands at impact that made him flip it (hook), get stuck (block) or hit it perfectly. But it was always about great timing.
But Tiger won everything with that golf swing.
When Johnny Miller said that Hank’s swing involved too much wrist action I wanted to scream into the TV and say, “Are you stupid?” With Butch’s swing, Tiger needed more hand action than through Hank’s method, which is about more body and forearm rotation. This is the way Hank put it: “Why would you strive to re-route the golf club when you can strive for perfect symmetry.”
What kind of teacher does Tiger need?
I think his knee is repaired and now his mind has to come to terms with that. Because I think there is somewhere in his mind the feeling that if he makes a certain move it will hurt. He’s also got to get his neck better. But once he gets his body healthy I don’t see him doing a whole lot different than what he did with Hank. I don’t see him going to a teacher right away. Actually the afternoon before Hank resigned, he and Tiger were discussing the golf swing. I think Hank will still advise Tiger.
Have you ever seen so much talk about a player’s golf swing in your career? Yet everybody can’t be wrong about Tiger’s golf swing.
Most people don’t know the whole story about his swing and his health. A lot of my colleagues are just jumping on the bandwagon. He’s had enough change in his life right now. He’s a recovering addict. He’ll never be healed. We’ve given him nine rounds of golf to be perfect. It’s crazy to blame it all on Hank.
Has this whole Tiger swing debate become a war of swing theories?
There has always been a war. I have a Facebook page and I’ll post a video and I’ll get 30 comments calling my approach a load of crap. That’s what makes our profession so great. Like Hank and every other teacher, we have to keep getting better, but we believe what we believe. You can’t tell me that I’m dead wrong because I have helped a lot of people play better golf.