One of the greatest things about the game of golf is that it can never be mastered. It can crumble the biggest of egos, and it can turn the world’s best athletes into mere mortals.
This is why I am a huge fan of The Haney Project on the Golf Channel. Hank Haney is known to most golf enthusiasts as the former coach of Tiger Woods, but he has also instructed hundreds of pros from the PGA, LPGA, Champions, European, Japanese, Australian and Asian Tours.
However, teaching pro golfers and amateurs are two entirely different things, and that’s what makes The Haney Project so intriguing. Instead of helping a pro improve his game enough to compete at the Masters, this show features him attempting to turn celebrity hackers into decent golfers.
Anybody who saw the first three seasons with Charles Barkley, Ray Romano and Rush Limbaugh knows that is no easy feat. There are perhaps no three professions involving large egos than pro basketball, acting and politics, so Haney had his hands full. Little by little, though, he convinced them to trust him, and it really made for some riveting television.
This week Golf Channel is rolling out some mini-versions of the show with a focus on the National Football League, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect as the pro football season gets closer to postseason play. Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and current CBS Sports analyst Bill Cowher was featured last night (check listings for repeats), former Kansas City Chiefs coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards gets tutored tonight (7:30pm ET), and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Joe “Willie” Namath is featured on Christmas Eve (also 7:30pm ET).
It would be silly to think that an instructor can completely fix anybody’s game in one or two lessons, but what Haney does is tweak a few things in a student’s swing that can make a big difference. The biggest hurdle is getting these athletes to check their egos at the door, because anybody with a set of golf clubs realizes that humility is a big part of the game.