News & ToursJune 2, 2008

Harmon aims to teach less

By no means is Butch Harmon retiring, but after a lifetime of working with everyone from high handicaps to multiple major champions, the acclaimed swing coach has decided to cut back his client list of tour pros and responsibilities at his golf school in Las Vegas. Harmon, who turns 65 in August, will continue to counsel Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott, all of whom are in the top five in the World Ranking, and Natalie Gulbis, who plays on the LPGA Tour.

Among those Harmon will no longer see are veterans Steve Flesch, Ben Crane, Arron Oberholser and José Maria Olazábal, plus a number of LPGA players. "All the wear and tear has taken its toll on me," Harmon told Golf World. "I've never really turned down anybody. I've helped everybody I could because I like to help people, but honestly, it has gotten to be more than I can handle."

Back issues and family priorities are the main reason Harmon is reducing his schedule. At Augusta National in April, he had eight players in the Masters field but struggled with the workload because his lower vertebrae were bothering him. Harmon has been undergoing therapy to alleviate the pain and said he has lost 16 pounds since last month's Players.

"I need to lose about 30 to take the stress of my back," he added. "I've never really taken care of my body. When I was younger it didn't seem to bother me, but I've got a nice life, a great wife and a 13-year-old son I want to spend more time with."

Harmon notified those he will no longer work with via text message, then followed up with individual phone calls.  "I still have the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 players in the world," the swing coach said of Mickelson, Scott and Els. "There will still be plenty of work and plenty of high-profile situations."

--John Hawkins

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