Feature

The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods by Hank Haney

Despite some alarming revelations, Hank Haney's book is mostly a book about golf, and a good one at that.

(Crown Archetype, $26)

No wonder Tiger Woods doesn’t want you to read this book, said Bradley S. Klein in Golfweek. Hank Haney, Woods’s swing coach for six years, has produced a book about working with golf’s greatest star that doubles as “an alarming look” at a man whose public triumphs “masked a day-to-day existence of profound superficiality.” Forget the sex scandals—which Haney says took him by surprise. The Woods we meet here is an “emotional blank wall,” so shut down around Elin Nordegren, then his wife, that he prohibited her from smiling on the golf course. Haney’s Woods is also incapable of empathy, once agreeing to share a hotel room with a player who is a devout Christian and then commandeering the TV to watch porn. Mostly, he’s just shallow. Though they spent 100 days a year together, Haney says he and Tiger never had a substantive conversation.

Finally, Tiger’s closely guarded life “has been pried open” by someone who isn’t part of Nordegren’s divorce proceedings, said Jeff Silverman in Golf.com. What a letdown, then, that this book’s big reveal is basically golf’s “worst-kept secret”—that Tiger is “cheap, arrogant, reckless, narcissistic.” But there is some real news here, said Bud Shaw in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. What to make of Woods’s odd obsession with the Navy SEALs? Haney tells us that Woods parachuted and trained regularly with SEAL teams, possibly causing the knee injury that’s sometimes blamed for the steep decline in his game. Golf journalists aren’t going to let those revelations fade.

Actually, “Tiger should be grateful Haney wrote The Big Miss,” said Geoff Shackelford in GolfDigest.com. While Woods has condemned Haney’s project as a betrayal, readers may discover that it’s mostly a book about golf, and a good one at that. The salacious stuff gets top billing, but Haney’s criticisms amount to “little jabs” in an otherwise “reverential assessment” of his formal pupil. Woods’s “purposefulness, eccentricity, and drive” have never been better showcased. Haney has written a first in the history of golf literature—a true behind-the-scenes look at “how an all-time great” goes about maintaining mastery.

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