The 1 thing Tiger Woods did worse than most players, according to Hank Haney

Tiger Woods and Hank Haney talk during the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota.

Hank Haney and Tiger Woods talk during the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota.

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Hank Haney said he was in awe when he’d watch Tiger Woods on the driving range. He’d hit all the shots and never miss one. He was flawless. That’s what makes one particular thing so dumbfounding to Haney.

Haney was Woods’ coach from 2004 to 2010, a stretch during which Woods won six major titles. Haney later wrote about the experience with Woods in The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods, which was published in 2012. He was also this week’s guest on GOLF’s Subpar Podcast with co-hosts Drew Stoltz and Colt Knost, and during the interview he discussed his big break, writing the book, coaching Woods and more.

“People speculate all the time about him, but they are guessing, I was there, I spent 150 days a year with him for six years,” Haney said. “He was incredible, just unbelievable.”

Among Woods’ gifts, Haney said, were his impeccable driving-range sessions. They were a sight to behold, yet there was one thing that always stumped Haney. But make no mistake, Haney says, this is a credit to Woods, just another example of how other-worldly his golf skill truly was during his prime.

“I would stand on the driving range and just think, There is no way these guys could beat him,” Haney said. “There’s just no possible way, and honestly he wasn’t nearly as good on the course. Nobody is. But I told this to a few people — I’ve taught over 200 touring pros, and the worst player at taking it from the driving range to the golf course that I ever coached was Tiger Woods. I’m gonna tell you what. He won 45 percent of the time he teed it up when I helped him, and on the driving range you’d think there’s no way this guy could ever lose, but you are always going to have regression. I’m just saying he hardly ever missed a shot. Ever. Like he would go on the golf course and miss a couple, but you don’t understand, he’d go through a warm-up and never miss a shot. Like, ever.”

Knost mentioned Woods’ well-known struggles off the opening tee in tournaments. Haney said it was due to pressure.

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“It was usually in the opening rounds, because in the opening rounds you can lose the tournament but you can’t win it, so there’s more pressure on Tiger,” he said. “It was just a phenomenon about him. He never hit a bad shot [on the range]. People would talk about his driving or whatever, OK, well, tell me the drives he’s ever hit that cost him a tournament? Never. There is none. He never hit one. But yet the first tee shot. Most guys can hit the first tee shot but they can’t hit the last one.”

Haney said at the beginning of rounds, Woods had wiggle room to overcome bad shots or bad holes. Late in tournaments that margin of error didn’t exist, so he simply didn’t make mistakes. But those early round miscues off the tee showed he battled nerves and was human just like everyone else.

“That’s the thing, when I say of all the players I’ve ever coached he’s the worst at taking it from the practice tee to the course, that’s a compliment,” Haney said. “That’s the highest compliment. He was just so good.”

You can check out the entire podcast with Haney below. (And, spoiler, Haney says he thinks Woods can win on Tour again.)

Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at