Tiger Woods should be grateful Hank Haney wrote The Big Miss.
Not that the book will ever elicit any emotion from Woods other than a
Mt. St. Helens fury of bulging-eye bitterness upon mention of the
book’s tantalizing title. Nor is it hard to see why such a private,
obsessive-compulsive control freak finds the new book to be the ultimate
betrayal, even as he has shown little loyalty to those who’ve worked
for him at meager wages considering the pressures involved.
Yet after flying through this 247-page, mostly breezy and fascinating
look into the life of a champion, I suspect most readers will ultimately
have a newfound respect for Woods. I know I do.
That’s not to say you’ll look at him in a more positive light. The
various leaked anecdotes certainly stand out and deserve the attention
they got, but in the overall flow of the narrative, the now infamous Popsicle story or the Zach Johnson hotel adult movie revelation merely read like fun little jabs livening up Haney’s largely reverential assessment of Tiger. Working with ghostwriter Jaime Diaz (big disclosure: new editor at Golf World where
I'm a Contributing Writer), the Texas-based instructor never holds back
in pointing out Tiger’s frugality, Woods’ downright rudeness or the
socially-inept gamesmanship muddying Tiger’s most basic daily
it’s hard not to marvel at Woods' purposefulness, eccentricity and
drive, which any sports fan suspects is at the core of the all-time
greats. Not for a minute do you suspect Haney is making anything up for
dramatic effect. Tiger is a workaholic who loves the game, loves trying
to improve and likes winning majors. And for the first time in the
history of golf literature, we get a behind-the-scenes look at how an
all-time great works. Many times the details are not pretty, but most of
the journey Haney takes us on reveals a relentless passion to thrive in
an era when so many professionals appear content to occasionally
contend and collect healthy checks. If I were asked to recommend a book
for an aspiring young golfer, The Big Miss would be the first
title I’d select if for no other reason than most of today’s
Tiger-wannabes will be motivated to work much harder than they currently
do. They’ll also learn how not to treat the people closest to them.
Much of initial Big Miss backlash stems from the publisher’s
decision to allow a slow drip of mostly salacious revelations to frame
the discussion. Due to a lack of book reviews putting the salacious
stuff into context, the perception of the book is one of a
teacher-client confidentiality breach, with vindictive humiliation as
the primary motive. (As if anything in the book is even remotely as
humiliating as what came out in late 2009?)
This marketing approach, while likely to sell a boatload of books,
may prove costly to Haney’s reputation based on the vitriolic social
media reaction. Yet I sensed Haney’s primary goal was to document an
amazing time in sports history and his small-but-influential role in
some of the best golf ever played.
The Big Miss is not perfect. Some of the geeky golf
instruction talk runs so far off the deep end that a reader will
actually long for images to help illustrate what is being talked about.
Also, Haney’s tone is genuine and consistently modest throughout. So
when he chooses to use the final chapter (“Adding It Up”) to let us know
Tiger had more wins during his watch than he did under Butch Harmon, it’s jarring and a peculiar drift from the rest of The Big Miss.
Especially since, to that point, Harmon is treated with enormous
respect. So much so that Haney even suggests much of his swing coaching
for Tiger was little more than a continuation of Harmon’s teaching, with
different views only on top-of-the-backswing position and communication
Exactly!! Maybe Bones, never hear much about him.
interesting that foley is paid on a percentage of wins basis. Wonder why HH didnt do that. LOL