Monday, April 14, 2008

Changing professions ... finally?

I think it’s time for a career change. Before you say it, I know I should have done it years ago. Some thought I already did. Get your smartass remarks off your chest. I’ll wait … Okay, done now?

My new career is as a golf instructor and I’m only going to have one student. His name is Tiger Woods. Seriously, I think I can handle it. All I have to do is stand there and watch him swing a few times and physically position his hands in the exact same place they were before. As he launches shot after shot with pinpoint accuracy, I’ll calmly ask, “How’s that feel pro?” Naturally, he’ll say great and within two weeks, I’ll be hailed as the next great golf guru.

I figure that this attests to two things. One is how great he’s playing and two; I’m not quite as dumb as I look.

Seriously, what is going on with all the changes of instructors? Ernie Els leaves David Leadbetter after 18 years for Butch Harmon. There are many marriages that don’t last that long. Last year after spending most of his career under the tutelage of Rick Smith, Phil Mickelson drops him in favor of Harmon and wins the Players Championship within a fortnight. Did these forsaken instructors get stupid and Harmon brilliant over night? I don’t think so, but it seems now, more than ever, pros are playing musical chairs with instructors.

Of course there have been trends. How often have you heard TV commentators say about Charles Howell III, “I don’t understand why he hasn’t won more”? Or, “Michelle Wie’s game hasn’t advanced as it should.” The commonality is what is known in the golf underground as “Lead Poisoning.” Yet, Leadbetter coached Els to a pair of US Open and a British Open Championship, so why hasn’t he made other pros better?

Smith has been somewhat an enigma. His prize pupils have been Mickelson and two-time US Open champion Lee Janzen. At last report, Janzen is still with Smith, but he doesn’t have his Tour card right now and is playing at the whim of sponsors and their exemptions. Smith on the other hand, Smith might be a bit preoccupied with Tree Tops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan where he first got on the radar as an instructor. He has done so well between his teaching, his string of golf schools at sundry resorts and endorsement fees for endorsing everything you can and can’t imagine that he purchased Tree Tops.

This brings us to Hank Haney. Haney replaced Harmon as Woods’ instructor. Tiger had decided he wanted to completely change his swing. I guess winning the Masters and US Opens by record-setting margins wasn’t good enough. He had it outlined and hired Haney to look over the conversion. Prior to the Woods hookup, Haney’s claim to fame was he was Mark O’Meara’s guru and guided him to a Masters and British Open Championship.

Haney followed Woods’ wishes and the next thing you know, Haney is the latest and greatest. He almost committed the unforgivable sin of becoming too famous by appearing as a commentator during ESPN broadcasts. Harmon and former caddie Fluff Cowan did the same thing en route to the unemployment line. There’s only one driver of that bus and that’s Tiger. Employees best not try to partake of any reflected glory. By the way Tiger, I get the message. Endorsements and camera time aren’t my cup of tea.

Speaking of cups, bartender pour my new boss a cup of human kindness and myself a double of humility.

See you on the first tee,


No comments: