KAPALUA, Hawaii – Hank Haney has written a book about the six years he spent as Tiger Woods’ swing coach, a volatile time in which Woods went from winning nearly half of his tournaments to a scandal that derailed his pursuit of golf history.
Without giving away any details until “The Big Miss” goes on sale in the spring, Haney believes the book will be hard to put down.
“I get asked all the time about Tiger, what it was like to work with him,” Haney said in a telephone interview. “I felt like I had a front row seat to golf history. It just kind of chronicles a little bit of what I went through, what I dealt with, how I coached and the observations I made.
“I think there’s a lot of things that people are going to find interesting.”
Haney began working with Woods at the Bay Hill Invitational in 2004. They parted ways a month after the 2010 Masters, where Woods made his return to golf after being exposed for multiple extramarital affairs that shattered his image and led to divorce.
Most of the people involved with Woods have signed a nondisclosure agreement. Haney said he signed no such thing – “I didn’t even have a contract,” he said – although he said the book was not intended to “take jabs at anyone.”
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent at Excel Sports Management, said he was aware of the book but that Woods had not seen any excerpts and would have no comment.
Haney was asked whether he thought Woods will like it.
“If he reads it, I don’t think it will be a book that bothers him. It’s hard to say,” Haney said. “I think anybody who reads it will think it’s interesting, very fair and honest, and that’s what I wanted to do. I was on that job for six years. There were 110 days a year I was with him. I stayed at his house for close to 30 days a year. You make a lot of observations.”
The book will be released by Crown Archetype, part of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, Inc. It is scheduled to be published March 27 – one week before the Masters – and issued simultaneously in print and digital formats in the United States and Canada.
Haney wrote the book with Jaime Diaz of Golf Digest, whose coverage dates to when Woods was a teenager and Diaz played golf with Woods and his father. Diaz also spoke at the memorial service for Earl Woods.
He said the title was collaboration.
“It has multiple meanings,” Haney said. “`The Big Miss’ was golf jargon. The big miss of a drive, obviously that’s been part of his game. The big miss of an opportunity? That’s really where we got the idea. It was a missed opportunity that Tiger and I had that we experienced working together. That all comes out in the book.”
Haney was the second of three coaches Woods has used as a professional, though he was part of the most interesting times. He caught more criticism than any coach, even though Woods won 29 times and six majors during their six years.
“I think the period of time that I dealt with Tiger was much more unique, in terms of having the scandal, Torrey Pines with the broken leg at the U.S. Open, other things, too,” Haney said. “It was a totally different time.”
Woods went nine months without winning after going to work with Haney. Starting with the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan at the end of the 2005 season, however, Woods won 46 percent of the tournaments he played worldwide.
During their six years together, Woods got married and had two children. His father died in May 2006, and Woods missed the cut in a major for the first time at the U.S. Open a month later.
As for the serial adultery, Haney said he didn’t know about it and doesn’t delve into that chapter of Woods’ life in the book, except for his return from the scandal after going nearly five months without competition.
“It’s something you can’t NOT talk about it,” Haney said. “My last tournament was the Masters, and that was his first tournament back from the scandal. I didn’t know anything about the girls. That’s not something I could specifically comment on. Everything I comment on is what I observed and the facts I knew. I didn’t know anything about that.
“But I did know about how he interacted with me about that, what my observations were and other areas in terms of how I dealt with and the aftermath.”
The most compelling win under Haney came at the 2008 U.S. Open, when Woods learned he had a double stress fracture in his left leg, along with shredded ligaments in his left knee. Despite not competing for two months, he won in a playoff over Rocco Mediate.
Haney recalled doctors telling Woods before that U.S. Open that he needed to spend three weeks on crutches, followed by three weeks of rest. Haney says Woods told the doctors, “I’m playing the U.S. Open, and I’m going to win.”
Pressed for examples of his observations in the book, Haney declined, not even to mention his favorite moment or the low point in his coaching relationship with Woods.
Haney said he knew all along he would be writing a book.
He worked primarily with Mark O’Meara, which is how he got to know Woods. Haney said from the day he first went to work with Woods, he knew that would be his last pro client.
He took notes and kept his observations in diaries, then waited to find the right publisher and someone – Diaz – to help him with the book. Haney said he hasn’t seen the finished product, but “we’re very close.”
“It was an incredible opportunity,” Haney said. “We had a great run and I enjoyed it, but a lot of things happened in six years that made it feel a little longer. I had a lot of great observations from being in the position I was in.”