Legendary swing coach Butch Harmon has made plenty of headlines the last couple weeks based on rumors of who he is — or isn’t — coaching. Jordan Spieth went to see him, but Harmon made it clear they’re not officially working together. Rory McIlroy went to see Harmon, too, but he remains under the full-time tutelage of lifelong swing coach Michael Bannon.
Danielle Kang, on the other hand, has been working with Harmon for several years. But after firing a second-round 65 to hold the 36-hole lead at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on Friday, she was asked about another source of advice: Annika Sorenstam.
“Yes, we do text back and forth,” Kang said. “She’s a role model of mine and I ask her for a lot of advice here and there. Her advice has gotten me pretty far. She doesn’t think it’s much, but it’s helped me a lot.”
Sorenstam confirmed that the two have talked about how to score better and that Kang specifically asked about getting off to hotter starts. But there’s certainly no coaching drama here; Kang was eager to talk about her full-time instructor, Harmon, after her round.
During tournaments, Harmon won’t bother her with specific tips. Instead the two will trade texts, often non-golf related.
“We have just fun jokes going back and forth,” Kang said.
But she did share one mid-tournament story where Harmon’s calming voice helped her through a moment of mid-tournament panic. I wager just reading her re-telling of it will set you more at ease, too.
“I called him one time in the middle of a tournament,” Kang recalls. She was leading the tournament, but something was wrong: “I said, ‘I can’t hit my 3-wood.'”
Harmon was unperturbed.
“How are your wedges?” he asked.
“I said, ‘They’re good,’ Kang remembers. “He said, ‘Well, you seemed to make four birdies on par-5s. What’s wrong with it?’
“I said, ‘I just can’t hit it.’
“He’s like, ‘Okay. Here’s what you do. Take the 3-wood, throw it out of the bag. Make the bag lighter for [Kang’s caddie] Ollie.’
“I said, ‘But if I can hit it I can reach the par-5s.’
“He goes, ‘Well, that’s not happening this week, so…’
“So that’s kind of the advice that he gives sometimes, and it makes you feel good.”
Kang didn’t physically take the club out of her bag that weekend, but she didn’t hit it at all, either. There’s a lesson in there that we should take to our weekends, too, whether on the course or off: Keep things simple. Once you’re competing, stick with what works. And remember: There’s no rule that requires you to hit that 3-wood if you don’t want to.
Whatever mix of advice Kang has been listening to has her particularly well-positioned heading to this weekend: She’s 13 under par and leads by two. Take notes.
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