The Big Miss Review

Perspective can be a funny thing.

Many times we as fans believe those in the media spotlight fit a specific mold. This can be movie stars, politicians, and athletes.  It’s not until we get insight into their “world” when we are able to take a step back and assess who that person really is.  In certain instances, we are not privy to the daily lives of famous people.  We are at the mercy of what is placed on YouTube or what a photographer may catch at a fleeting moment in time.  This is how are perceptions are formed.

Our perception is our reality.  What we hear or see is what we believe. We do not live in sound bites but many who are famous do. When those who are close to famous people for an extended period of time, give us insight into what that person is like, we are able to reassess our perception.

Enter –  Hank Haney.  Recently, I had the opportunity to read, The Big Miss.  If you are not familiar (What rock have you been living under?) Hank Haney was Tiger Woods’ coach for six years.  During those six years, Hank describes his relationship with Tiger Woods in the book both on and off the course.

The book reinforced and shattered some of my perceptions of Tiger Woods.

Reinforced: The Big Miss reinforced the perception that Tiger Wood is a relentless worker. Hard work pays off.  It certainly has paid off for Tiger throughout the years.  His numbers in both major and non-major tournament wins is a testament to that.  Hank’s insight into Tiger’s practice regiment and tireless preparation gives the reader a glimpse into what can happen when talent and work ethic are meshed together.

Shattered: The Big Miss shattered some previous perceptions of Tiger. Hank referenced many times throughout the book that Tiger was (and still is) a driven individual.  Hank, when coaching Tiger, made the comment that it was like he (Tiger) was the boss and the student all at the same time.  As a former coach, we all believe our athletes can succeed with proper guidance and instruction.  Most athletes are open to that instruction because we as coaches have either demonstrated success with others or have done it ourselves.  In my opinion, after reading the book, this part of the relationship between Tiger and Hank when practicing or interacting was a difficult one to manage as a coach.   One could imagine attempting to correct Tiger or ask him to try something new may be a slippery slope in that it’s not like Tiger doesn’t know what he is doing.   Habits and routines of elite athletes are hard if not impossible to break.  Hank points out in The Big Miss that Tiger’s previous coach, Butch Harmon, worked on aspects of Tiger’s swing that were in difference to Hank’s philosophy.  This is most certainly true for most coaches.  Everyone is different. Attempting to break some habits that Hank believed Tiger could benefit from was a struggle.  Tiger’s tenacity, although a good trait to have, was a difficult barrier to overcome when hank wanted to try something new.  An athlete tends to believe his coach more when suggestions work and the athlete sees success.  Tiger experienced success with Butch.  Again, up to this point in Tiger’s career it’s not as if he had not won anything.  He most certainly had.  But, remember, Tiger asked Hank to coach him – not the other way around.

Reinforced:  Greatness requires greatness.  To quote Hank, “I’m going to give Tiger as much as I’ve got for as long as I can.  And somehow I already know he’s going to be the last touring pro I teach.”  Going into this with Tiger, it’s apparent that Hank understands the time commitment  effort and toll this coaching job will require.  It can be said that Hank Haney is one of the greatest coaches the PGA has seen.  Greatness requires greatness.  But, what else was there to improve on?  Greatness can be measured by the willingness to sacrifice in order to achieve what others are not willing.  Tiger and Hank were willing to push each other when needed.  The Big Miss addresses this in great detail.  The insights learned from practice session successes and tribulations gives the reader insight into what it takes to be great – and the talent that goes with it.

Shattered:  My previous perceptions of Hank Haney prior to reading the book.  It is easy to take a shot at somebody when they are down.  In fact, it seems most people take this opportunity to makes themselves feel better about themselves.  This is what I was expecting when I picked up the book.  I was fully expecting Hank to give the readers the dirt on Tiger.  As it turns out, it could not be further from the truth. Hank is nothing but complimentary to Tiger in all aspects of his life – this includes both golf and Tiger’s personal life.  Hank credits Tiger.  Hank is humble and confident in what his influence was on Tiger. Hank is humble yet confident when reading the book.  The journey of this tremendous opportunity for Hank was written in a manner that highlighted the positive aspects of Tiger and his relationship.  Subsequently, Hank’s knowledge of the swing clearly translated to Tiger’s success after trust was built.  A common comment on social media (Twitter) from fans to Hank is that they have an even greater appreciation of Tiger and what he was able to  accomplish.  This is not to say in The Big Miss that Hank “sugar coats” situations or events that occurred in their six years working together.  Hank is honest and to the point.  In doing that, you, as the reader get a real appreciation of their relationship (Coach/Athlete).  Many take the easy way out.  The easy way out for Hank would have been to bad mouth Tiger and his exploits on the range, course or in his personal life.  Hank refrained from this and it comes out in his appreciation for Tiger. After I read the book, I have a greater appreciation for Hank and Tiger as it relates to their coach-athlete relationship and accomplishments – together.

In short, The Big Miss is an easy read and any golf fan will not be able to put it down once they start.  Hank Haney goes into various memories of Tiger and him in detail which gives the reader insight into what it takes to be great.  In the end, the reader comes away with an appreciation for the greatness of both Hank Haney and Tiger Woods.  Pick up the book.  You will not be disappointed.

Scott Kapla,  Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer
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What makes the tour pro’s great?



I’m sure if you tried to answer and someone was nearby to actually hear you, you’d answer with a list of attributes. The one attribute that I am interested in is preparedness.

How to do you prepare to golf? We can break that down even further. How do you mentally prepare to golf? How do you physically prepare to golf? Don’t answer.

Physical Preparedness

I am a fan of the Golf Channel as probably most of you are that read this. They have a show called, On the Range. The show is basically a color commentary of teachers in the studio watching on a large screen how tour pro’s practice prior to the start of a tournament.

I find myself saying-I do that. I do that too. Wait, what was that? I am going to try that.. I think when we physically prepare for a round we emulate what we see or how we were taught.

If we have time…

Many of us are working stiffs. We try to fit golf in around things in our life whether it be work or family. That means that most of the time we hustle to the course. Change our shoes in the parking lot. Pay. Meet our foursome on the first tee. Take a couple of practice swings with a couple of irons to loosen up. Tee it up and off we go. Is it any coincidence that our back nine scores are usually better than our front nine? (A personal side note: my brother is the only human being that can step out of his car and stripe it down the fairway. A solid 260. It kills me everytime I see it.)

Let’s look at the other side of this. What if you did have time to prepare? What would you do? Why? Many of us on the range start with a wedge and work our way to the driver. Then we head to the practice green (which is probably where we should start and stay-but that”s just me) But, why? Has it been successful for you? As I write this, I am reminded of Tom Watson. He starts with a long iron. He’s pretty good from what I heard.

The bottom line is that what separates us from tour pro’s is obviously talent but time-on-task and preparedness are close behind. We don’t have the talent. We don’t have the time.

We don’t have to make a living at it either.

Mental Preparedness

The mental and the physical go hand-in-hand in any sport. With golf, though, it seems to be magnified. When you approach the first tee before you even hit a ball whether you’ve warmed up or not, what are you thinking about? Are your thoughts positive or negative?
Has your inner voice said the following:
● Just get it in the fairway
● Don’t go left
● Don’t go right
● Don’t shank it
● Man, there are a lot people watching me right now
● 240 to carry the water

I would classify these thought as primarily negative in that they are telling your mind what not to do which in turn your body does (I know it’s weird but many sports psychologists say this).

I think whether you have time to physically warm up or not, your mental approach can have a tremendous effect on your game. Instead of the above negative thoughts, maybe you should try repeating certain swing keys (that what I do). I also heard that some tour pro’s sing to themselves to develop a rhythm. Try it but, please, don’t tell me what you are singing.

Either way, the best way to mentally prepare for a round before you even strike the ball is to keep thoughts simple, focused and positive. Stay in the moment. Don’t let yourself slip and say the following:

If I can just get off to a good start, I will probably have a chance to break (insert your number here).

Each shot counts whether it is on the range or on the first tee. I think that’s the way tour pro’s think. Each time they swing the club and strike a ball, it has a purpose.

What is your purpose when you mentally or physically prepare for a round?

Keep it simple, in the present and positive.

Scott Kapla
Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer

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The Long And Short Of It

Let me take you back to the The (British) Open.  Adam Scott, until the last three holes, was in complete command. Ernie Els was steady and sank a birdie putt on the 18th.  No big deal.  But, Scott did not drive the ball in the fairway on the 18th and subsequently made bogey.  His last three holes were a nightmare.  This gave Ernie Els The Open title.  What do they both have in common?  Long(er) putters.

If you recall, I wrote about Ernie’s putting troubles in a previous post.  You can read it here.  If you watched The Open and any other golf tournament prior to or since then, you will notice the overwhelming use of the long putter.  The long putter, although quite controversial, has given life to players who otherwise may have needed life support on the greens.  Ernie may be one of those players.

What makes the long putter so controversial?   Anchoring.  Many commentators and PGA professionals believe that anchoring the putter to your body may be considered cheating.  For example, I follow Hank Haney on Twitter.  He posted the following as a reply to a question about the long putter:


It is quite conclusive what Hank Haney thinks of the long putter but is it cheating?  Is anchoring the putter to your body a way to take out the nerves? Has anyone looked at putting stats?  Back to that in a minute.

Haney has also stated on Twitter that he believes long putters will be allowed in the future but without anchoring.  Picture a golfer holding the putter just below his chin or just in front of his stomach and making a stroke from there. How will this be monitored?  It will be up to the USGA and the R&A.

The long putter has undoubtedly rescued some fledgling careers on the greens.  Or so it may seem.  Take my example from above.  Adam Scott uses a long putter.  To the naked eye, his putting statshave improved (you would think) but he is currently ranked 169th in total putts and 156th in total birdies.  Let’s look a little closer at Scott’s stats:

Putts 5-10 ft:  51% (158th)

Putts 10-15: 36% (14th)

Putts 15-20: 14% (150th)

Putts 20-25: 12% (73rd)

Putts > 25: 11% (1st)

 What do you see in these stats?  I certainly see inconsistency. I’m not sure that banning or altering the rules for the long putter is necessary.  I realize this is only one player but I’m sure that many other players mirror Scott’s stats in that there are strengths and weaknesses when comparing distance to percentage made.

The USGA and R&A will, I’m sure, do their due diligence when coming up with a ruling.  Technology has always been a point of contention with golf.  I’m just not sure banning or modifying the use of the long putter is necessary.

That’s the long and short of it.

One last thing.  I do know one rule that should be modified.  .  He will tell you.

Scott Kapla, Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer

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Goals. We all have them. Whether it be at work or play, we are inherently built for autonomy, mastery and learning.  I”m physically fit enough to strike a golf ball within reason.  But last summer and the summer before, that was not happening.  I continued to hit shots fat, hook or three putt more than I want to remember.  I finally had it.  On a family vacation, I took some time out to see Mike.  Viola.  Bad shots diagnosed.  A plan had been formulated.  I had goals for my rounds and the range.

My buddy”s whom have been taking me for about the last year and a half were not happy when I told them before the round-I was out.  I had things to work on.  I wasn”t worried about scoring.  I was concentrating and focusing on certain swing keys throughout my round.  I had a goals but the pressure of a “friendly” match was not what I needed at the time.  

My goals were simple.  (Ask Mike, he”ll tell you and show you what you need to hear and see). But I was focused.  Determined.  At least I felt as though I was ( side note- I didn”t practice as much as I should have- but don”t tell Mike).  I could see immediate results when I did play with just a few swing, stance and grip keys.


 Assimilating or relating goals or goal setting isn”t much of a stretch when thinking about other sports or your profession. When I was playing baseball at any level, I had a goal for every time I took the mound. I had one focus, throw strikes. First pitch strikes to hitters decreased their batting average more than 100 points. Two strikes on a .300 hitter now he was a .167 hitter. It was therefore imperative that I threw strikes, because strikes led to outs (Plus, it kept my team in the game behind me. I didn”t have to strike everybody out.  It was more democratic. See Crash Davis, Bull Durham) Get 27 outs and score one more run than the other team, now team goals are realized.

As a coach, there are many aspects to baseball and winning but simplifying through small steps was the key. Win every inning. If the other team scored one run-score two. If they score five-score six. You get the idea. The end result is not emphasized but will be apparent if the smaller steps or objectives are met.

 When you tee it up this spring, think about the small objectives. For example, eliminate three putts, keep the ball in play- no penalty shots, for starters.  Dedicated practice is at the heart of achieving your goals. Keep this in mind when you”ve hit balls twice in a dome and one of those times was with your six year old son.  Be realistic.

Scott Kapla, Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer

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In The Moment

What’s it like to stay in the moment? Ask Kyle Stanley. As the Pebble Beach Pro-Am just wrapped up, I want to bring you back to the last two weeks of golf and what Kyle Stanley didn’t and did accomplish.

In the momenta phrase many of us have heard if we have taken golf lessons or have played golf at a high level or any other sport for that matter. To many, it is the phrase that brings us back to reality. It’s the phrase that reminds us not to worry about the next hole-par 5 with a good drive, 240 yards to the pin over water. It’s a phrase that tells us put the past in the past and leave it there. Not being in the moment tells us to lay-up because of past failures.

To watch Kyle Stanley come from behind and win is impressive. To know that he lost the week before in extra holes and to win in the fashion he did was that much more impressive. In the moment.

How can we apply what Kyle Stanley did in our weekend games or other arenas of sports? Essentially, when playing a sport, failure is inevitable. Actually, it is essential. When coaching or playing we all have moments that we wish we could do over. We have moments that could potential define us and keep us from progressing. By staying in the moment, we allow ourselves to focus on the essential without worrying about outcomes. By staying in the moment, we are able to focus on simple thoughts and execute what needs to be done-regardless of results.

For many of us, outcomes are what define us. This is what gets in the way of progress. Thinking about the past inhibits and stunts our future. For Kyle Stanley, he easily could have finished with a respectable 20-30 place finish and no one would have thought anything less of him. Instead, by staying in the moment and focusing on each shot, he was able to win the tournament he just lost a short week ago.

Stay in the moment, focus on the task at hand and execute. Something we all can apply to our daily lives and not just golf.

Scott Kapla, Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer

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