A lesson with Tiger's ex-coach

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HE helped Tiger Woods win six major titles, but last month golf instructor Hank Haney arrived on the Gold Coast to give lessons to five Australian club golfers and attend a PGA coaching summit.

Gerard Waters (Secret Harbour, WA), Ms Nita Kino (Yarra Yarra, Vic), Ms Di Simpson (Northbridge GC, NSW), Jim Guilfoyle (Cairns GC, Qld) and Steve Stefanopolous (Westlakes GC, SA) honed their skills under the watchful eye of Haney after winning the privilege through an On-Course Golf Shops competition.

On-Course Golf Shops CEO Geoff Zarth said anyone who purchased a pair of Crocs golf shoes from an On-Course outlet went into the draw to win the lesson of a lifetime.

The prize included a lengthy round-table chat with 59-year-old former PGA Teacher of the Year (USA) followed by an extensive clinic and a playing lesson at RACV Royal Pines Resort.

I ask Haney if he is looking forward to coaching five golfers with handicaps ranging from 15-18.

“I am going to help five winners of our contest today and will enjoy doing that,” he said. “It will be a special day for them.”

Cairns Golf Club’s Jim Guilfoyle said the lesson with Hank Haney was “like being in Heaven”.

“I can’t wait to get back to the golf club and tell my mates,” he said.

“Hank is such a nice, patient guy and took a real interest in the group.”

It didn’t take long for Haney to pinpoint each person’s mistakes and correct them just by watching their practice swing.

Some of the issues the quintet needed ironing out were chipping and bunker play, short game assistance, getting the ball airborne using a fairway wood and the long game – driver and long irons.

“He told me I wasn’t setting up to the ball correctly and adjusted my feet,” said Jim, who plays off 17. “ Then he said I had to make a fuller shoulder turn. “ Those two hints helped me and I started hitting the ball straighter. I’m dying to go back to my club to try it out.

“During our playing lesson, Hank gave us some very good hints and simple messages about how to improve our short game.”

Prior to hitting the practice tee, Haney told his amateur students they needed a plan if they wanted to improve.

“If you don’t have a plan you are never going to get better,” Haney said.

“Most people are out there exercising, but not practising. Everybody has a tip for you but nobody has a plan."

“If you don’t have a plan you can’t improve at anything.”

Haney went on to say amateur golfers needed to work on eliminating a number of fundamental errors.

“They need to eliminate penalty shots, eliminate two chips, two pitches and two sand shots and eliminate three putts,” he said.

“If you look at amateur golfers that’s what they do – they have penalty shots; they have two chips and three putts."

“That’s how their scores add up and as you start to eliminate those penalties then you score comes down.”

Jim said he would work on these and other important tips.

“Hank also said we need to practice regularly and that if we didn’t have time to hit balls then we should spend 10 minutes in the backyard and do 100 practice swings,” Jim said.

“He said that was as good as practice."

“He was fantastic and really made us feel relaxed and comfortable."

Jim was reluctant to enter the competition, but club pro Jason Roach talked him into entering.

"I’m glad I entered,” Jim said. “When they rang me to tell me I was one of the people to win a lesson with Hank Haney I couldn’t believe it."

“It’s the best thing that has happened to me in my golfing life."

“Ah geez, I am going to buy another pair of Crocs golf shoes."

“That was a wonderful thing On-Course Golf Shops did and I can’t thank them enough.”

By David Newbery