The Loop

Thanks to Hank

Following up on yesterday's reader comments about the hefty fees charged by some of instructors on Golf Digest 50 Greatest Teachers list, here's the other side of debate.  Tim Schoch of Scotch Plains, New Jersey says his work with Hank Haney two decades ago made all the difference:


My high-handicap buddies recently grumbled that a PGA teaching pro is overkill for their game.  Is it true?  Won't it take forever before the new swing changes "stick"?

I'm just the hacker to answer that, and I'll travel back 20 years to do it.

In 1987, Hank Haney spent a week teaching me, a nobody with an over-the-top swing and a handicap with an exponent. >

Back then, editor Al Barkow ran a contest in his golf magazine [the old Golf Illustrated] called "Ask Hank Haney's Help." Readers were encouraged to write in and explain creatively why their game needed Hank's help. The best letter would receive one week of Hank's instruction at PGA West.

My letter won out of more than 950.

What I expected from Hank were swing-plane lectures and one-footed drills. What I received was an hour a day with a gracious Hank Haney who patiently and brilliantly began to anesthetize my flailing mess of a swing with logic, examples, praise, and joy. By improving my understanding of the golf swing, I soon began to see something brand new: hope! Following each inspiring lesson, I'd gleefully work for hours practicing what he preached. Then, I took it to the course. Before I left PGA West, I shot 84, 10 strokes lower than my best score of the previous two years. Also, I appeared on the magazine cover with Hank, and my diary of the experience was published. My best prize of all is one that all high-handicappers can easily receive from their PGA pro: a lesson in how fulfilling it is to understand better golf, then play it.  >

Because of "my" PGA teaching pro, I've had 20 years of hope, instead of 20 years of hacking.

Well said, Tim. And despite a bit of struggle at Carnoustie, I think a fellow named Tiger would happily co-sign your letter.

--Bob Carney

(Illustration: Apple, Chris Riley)