Butch Harmon… A sought-after golf instructor who coached a young Tiger Woods from age 17 through his first amazing record shattering 12 shot victory at Augusta in the 97, U.S. Masters until 2003.
When Harmon and Woods finished up there coach/pupil relationship, Woods had 8 Major Golf Championships and 34 Tournament victories (up till the start of 2003).
Why did Tiger switch coaches? He didn’t win a Major Golf Championship 2003 or 2004 (tough guy to please!), so I assume he thought he was stagnating a little.
Before Woods, Harmon came to prominence through Greg Normans stupendous victory in the 93, British Open at Royal St Georges, Scotland. Norman shot a final round 64 which is one of the great closing rounds in Major Championship golf (and I watched every last shot – between 1 and 4 am here in Sydney!).
Harmon “tightened” Normans golf-swing, it turned into a three/quarter-style swing; Harmon did the same with Woods. This tightening gave these two prodigious strikers more consistent swings. This action had little lower-body turning against a large shoulder turn; the result was a short, consistent, powerful swing.
Nowadays, Harmon coaches Adam Scott, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Earnie Els (who has been having a “renaissance” in his playing career), Dustin Johnston, Nick Watney, and Natalie Gulbis (L.P.G.A) to name a few.
I don’t see these guys swinging like the old Norman or Woods swing (Woods and Norman have both changed their swing since). Harmon says he tries to work with the players “natural golf-swing”. Obviously Freddie Couples, Phil and Adam Scott all swing the club quite differently – with Scott being the most “text book”.
To me, Butch has very simple teaching methods – which is a good thing. What is in the DVD’s?
Okay, here we go:
Section 1: Basics of Ball-Striking and Fundamentals which include:
Set-up, grip, grip pressure, stance, ball-position, pre-swing posture, waggle, takeaway, back-swing, head position, downswing, impact, follow-through, pretty swing versus efficient swing.
My View: For me, there is nothing new new but if you are a new to the game or want a “fundamentals check”, it’s good.
Section 2: Faults, cures and drills
- Swinging to fast
- Topped shot
- Hitting it fat
- Hook and slice drill
- Shhhhhhank (I find it hard to even type that word
- Hitting from the top
- Reverse pivot
- Taking a divot
- Anger management
A solid section and a few handy tips there if you have any of the above problems.
The one thing I don’t like much about what he teaches is that he emphasis taking the club very wide; I have done this previously and you can definitely over do this (be warned!).
Nowadays I work on NOT over extending. A bit wider with less wrist-cock is okay for the driver – as it creates a flatter swing, which is good when you don’t have to make contact with the ground. But don’t get to wide with little wrist on irons, because you won’t come into the ball at the right angle, you won’t hit divots and you will hit thin shots. Let the wrists hinge naturally. I have a detailed post on that here.
Section 3: Specialty Shots
- Long drive
- Low/punch – I like how Butch demonstrates this – driving it low with a 3/4 swing
- High Shot
- Ball above and below feet
- Uphill and downhill lies
- “The Stinger”
- Fairway bunkers shots
- Hitting off hard pan
Again, solid info for anyone over a 6 handicap wanting to learn how to play some or all of these shots.
Section 4: Short Game
This is a good section, Butch has some solid practical advice and demonstrates his words with plenty of shots.
Butch goes through:
- basic 100 yard shot; he stresses the importance of balance and hitting through the ball
- pitching from 40 yards in; to hit these shots well Butch goes through the set-up changes required along with the need to be committed (to hit through aggressively)
- 20 yard lob-shot over bunker; he runs through the set-up and commitment needed to hit the shot well
- bunker shots; Butch shows how to hit: short, long, uphill and downhill shots
- chipping; butch shows quite a few ways to chip and how to chip different distances
Section 6: Putting
A good section this one. Butch covers the fundamentals, reading the break, practice drill and practice routine.
Good solid info with a couple of good drills. He does not go into the reading and how we think much, there is a lot more too excellent putting as I explain in The Truth About Putting.
I do like his points of “putting practice routine”, which is identical to what I have been using for 25 years, which is: to hit mainly long putts when you start pre-round. This helps you to get your “feel going” and it also helps you to gauge how fast the greens are.
Butch say’s another thing that I do, which is to NOT go and hit 4-8 foot putts. If you hit a lot of these putts, you will miss some and it is not good for your confidence. Stick to long, medium then maybe some from inside four feet; knocking these putts in will give you some positive feedback to go to the first hole with.
And remember to go through your routine, your reading and physical routine. Always be practicing the four R’s.
Section 7: From Good to Great
My favorite section where Butch interviews all of those students I mentioned above.
His students hit shots as well (but not Norman and Els). Here are the highlights:
- Natlie Gubis hits some 3/4 pitch shots – a part of her game the two have worked on to improve. Good chapter.
- Phil Mickelson talks about how they have “firmed up” his leg action; tightened his swing
- Adam demonstrates how to swing it smooth (this is quite brief)
My favorite section was a chat that Harmon had with Norman. Greg gave a couple of great points:
- How he had a long drive to Royal St George’s on the day of the final round of his 93, Britsih Open Victory, and how sensitive his fingers were! These guys use “feel” so much in their games.
- How he focuses on extremely small spot in the distance when hitting a shot; a leaf on a tree for example
- Greg’s unique grip
- How he practiced…hitting 3 high fades, then 3 high draws then 3 low draws and then 3 fades (easy, no problem!)
Section 7: Golf Equipment and a Titlist promotion (as they sponsor the DVD)
Okay, a few interesting things, but pretty much a commercial for Titleist golf equipment
And… here is some rare footage from the DVD of Tiger Woods as a teenager. I give you some commentary on this super-smooth swing (during this session). Man it looks good – not my recording of the video, it’s quite poor actually, but Tiger’s swing looks awesome. I think that kid might do okay if it sticks with his golf!
Check it out
A Young Tiger – With A Superb, Languid, Rhythmical Swing
Who are these DVD’s good for?
0-6 handicap: not needed, the videos are solid but not quite worth if for your level
7-13: you will pick up some good tips that will help your game
13-18: very good for you, gives you all the fundamentals and specialty shots and good short-game and putting tips
19+ and Beginners: excellent golf-instruction for you, the DVD’s will help your golf a lot.
If you would like to purchase the DVD’s use my special promo code: TRUTH and you will get FREE shipping.
If you purchase:
- use my promotional code: TRUTH (receive free shipping)
- send me your receipt (ap @thetruthaboutputting.com) and I will give you free access to my “Golf Swing Fundamentals E-Book, Videos and E-Lessons” (they sell for $25 normally).