Editors' BlogApril 9, 2008

Major Teacher Changes

The first major is here. And two major winners have announced instructor changes. Yesterday Ernie Els talked about the switch from David Leadbetter to Butch Harmon and Retief Goosen about his recent sessions with Gregor Jamieson.

Ernie:

You know, I just wanted to get some different--get a different feel, get different words coming towards me, and just find a bit more about how Butch is teaching. He's obviously had a lot of success with players, and I love the way he changes people's games. I've seen it before. I've seen it with Stewart Cink and I've seen it with Justin Leonard and a lot of other players. I like the way they swing....

Els said the first subject with Butch was posture:

My posture really got a little out of whack. I've had too much turn going back on the backswing. My hips were really turning too much and my shoulders, everything was kind of collapsing at the top.

In other words, Harmon will shorten Els' swing as he did Mickelson's:

I'm quite a flexible guy, but swinging that long, I get out of sync with my lower body and upper, so I needed to stabilize that and shorten my backswing a little bit, and really get the club in front of me.

Els admitted that Harmon is also a teacher who can "push a guy's buttons" as one reporter put in a question:

You know, if you say he can press your button, he's a very direct guy, so in my little short stint with him so far, at least you know where you stand with him. I like that."

Els did not talk about it, but one other factor in the switch may be that Leadbetter is committed to spending more time with his family--he has two teenagers at home--at this point in his career.

Goosen, who never really had a regular instructor, talked about why he went to Jamieson:

I felt getting somebody just to have a look and work on those things can only improve [my swing]. I don't think it could have got any worse. So that's why I decided to go to Gregor, somebody that I can see now and then that's not too involved with too many other players and can just sort of focus on my swing.

On the other hand, Goosen reminded us that no matter who the teacher is, it's the player who has to make the shots.

The end of the day, it doesn't really matter who you work with and how much the coach can help you, you still have to feel comfortable out on the course.

Goosen's reference to an instructor not involved with too many players, echoed a question to Adam Scott, who also works with Harmon, about his teacher's growing stable of players:

Q: Do you feel it's getting a bit crowded in the stable? A: Not for me. I get plenty of time with Butch that I need. He makes me aware that I'm going to get my time, and as long as that hapens, I'm happy for him to look at anybody he wants to. >

Here's an idea for this year's Masters pool: not Tiger versus the field, but Tiger versus Butch's field....

--Bob Carney

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