The above title is a big statement and possibly a biased one, however, one I am going to make none the less.
For those of you who know me, you will know that I like to work a lot, almost a stupid amount at times. For those of you who don’t, I have been a teaching professional at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, Dubai, for almost four years and a golf pervert for almost 20!
As hard as I work, every so often I do take some time off and when I do, I like to read… you guessed it! Golf books! Sad, I know!
Luckily I have an extremely understanding wife! After two busy months since the Christmas period and my fourth European Tour desert swing, we have landed in Abu Dhabi for a three day break.
With hours of free time on my hands, it was about time that I read (and this was long overdue), “The Pro”, written a few years back by my boss, mentor and idol, Claude “Butch” Harmon.
Most of you will know parts of Butch’s history, from coaching endless amounts of amazing players to being one of the most highly regarded teaching professionals in the world today. However, one of the most interesting parts of his life and probably the lesser known, is his youth.
Butch grew up in a family where golf and life were simply one. Butch’s Dad, Claude Senior, was one of the best players and coaches on the planet, most noted, for being the last club professional to win the masters. Butch grew up around greatness and his father was a central cog in that wheel.
“The Pro” is unlike any modern book you will read or video you will watch. It is not an“instructional” book perse, yet you will most certainly learn some essentials that will help you improve your game along the way. The book centres around the “pearls of wisdom” that Butch and his brothers were able to learn from, not only Claude Harmon but, also many of his friends such as Ben Hogan, Tommy Armour and Craig Wood. One of my favourite stories is about Butch’s brother Billy, who was an outstanding player in his own right. The story goes as follows:
“When Dad tried to change Billy’s grip to keep him from hitting an occasional hook, Billy said, “Dad, it doesn’t feel right”.
My father snatched up the ball and club and held both within inches of Billy’s face. “You see that ball?” he barked.
“Yes, Sir,” Billy said.
“And you see that club?”
“Well, that ball and that club are inanimate objects. In-an-i-mate! The ball is only going to do what the club makes it do, and the club is only going to go where you swing it. Neither of them gives a damn how you feel.”
Butch goes on to say “if we opted for the easy road instead of making the fundamental change necessary to get better, he would let us know in his own special way”, this is most certainly something every golfer can learn from.
Although some of the stories may appear at times harsh, you could the book really shows that at the heart of it Claude cared immensely about his children learning the value of if you are going to do something, you do it right! That value is at the very core of the Harmon name, and will show through in the standard of coaching that each of the Harmon brothers have achieved in the game Harmon name is held to this very day. It may appear like “tough love” but that approach has produced five amazing golf professionals in Butch, Dick, Bill and Craig Harmon as well as Butch’s son Claude Harmon III, not to mention the endless amazing players such as Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Dustin Johnson etc.
If you are a golfer, a golf fan, a teaching professional, a budding professional or someone who just simply enjoys the game, do yourself a favour and read this book, you will not regret it!