Hank Haney coached Tiger Woods for six years. Now he’s written a book, titled The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods, in which he’s very critical of Woods. Haney joins Bill Littlefield to discuss his book and his years working with Woods.
Bill’s thoughts on The Big Miss:
Hank Haney, who coached Tiger Woods from 2004 until 2010, characterizes himself as “one of Tiger’s many enablers,” but that doesn’t mean what you and I are bound to assume it means if we read that passage out of context.
Haney contends that he never knew anything about the various out-of-bounds romps with which Woods destroyed his image and sabotaged his career. Haney is talking about the extent to which “winning gave Tiger Woods permission to remain a flawed and in some ways immature person.”
According to Hank Haney’s account, Woods was not only “flawed” and “immature,” he was a selfish, sometimes paranoid prima donna with an enormous sense of entitlement. Haney’s enabling took various forms, including e-mails, one of which began as follows:
“Your greatness is undeniable. The records you set will never be broken. You are probably the greatest athlete in the history of the world.”
Haney apparently believed all that. Much of The Big Miss is devoted to the celebration of Woods’s extraordinary accomplishments on the golf course and what has made them possible: vast natural talent, dedicated preparation at an early age, exceptional concentration, an enormous capacity for practice, and the ability to create in his opponents the sense that he will inevitably win.
The Big Miss has drawn a lot of fire from people who believe that as Woods’s former employee and friend, Hank Haney should have kept his mouth shut. That contention assumes that your allegiance belongs to the people who sign your paycheck, no matter what those employers do. Nobody who embraces that theory will ever blow the whistle on a crooked legislator, a corporation that’s cheating its customers, or a fraternity that’s abusing and endangering its pledges.
But it’s reasonable to criticize Hank Haney for overstepping his own area of expertise. When he writes that he saw in Woods “the insane drive that was vital to his greatness” or contends that Woods “avoided acknowledging the psychological toll the scandal and divorce might have had on him,” Haney seems to come close to practicing psychology without a credential, especially since he acknowledges at several points that Woods rarely offered people the opportunity to know him well.