Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of his generation, maybe even a few generations and quite possibly of all time. Therefore the book titled The Big Miss by Hank Haney. the second coach of his professional career, is significant.

It charts the relationship, or possibly lack of, between Woods and Haney during their time together that covers Tiger most successful period in the majors and his much publicised fall from grace before they split.

Tiger Woods astounds us with his golf, but his off course personality is shrouded in mystery as is becoming clear. The carefully crafted, corporate friendly exterior that we were presented with until 2009 is slowly being replaced with glimpses of who Woods really is. However as Haney reveals, even working for the man did not give him an insight into Tiger's real world. So if you are looking for gossip on his personal life then you will be disappointed.

Hank Haney Big Miss CoverThe Big Miss refers to the name tour golfers' give to the shot that can bring in a big number on the golf course and Haney reveals that Tiger the golfer had a fear of his driver. Indeed it is somewhat re-assuring that Woods seems prone to the same doubts and fears as most golfers, just on a different level.

It also reveals the other activities Woods engaged in such as heavy fitness sessions and weekends away with the US Military and US Navy Seals. If it is true that Tiger's knee was initially damaged on one of these events then how cruel it would be for a man with all golf's records at his feet to be stymied by being trapped in a body that can no longer allow him to compete as he used to as a result of non-golf activities.

I am familiar with the lives of a few touring pro's so I am aware the glamour of sportsman's life is not what it seems. This for me is what Haney reveals. The single-mindedness that top level athletes need to succeed. The amount of practice and dedication that goes on and the minute fractions that they and their coaches work on.

It is far from glamorous, but at the end of the day it is the player's career and sometimes coaches are not even privy to everything that goes on. Something it seems Haney wanted.

Woods comes across as someone very hard to work for and his personality may seem aloof to your average person who is not a hyper-competitive, elite athlete. But as you can see from his recent press-conferences, Woods does not give a lot away or much back to anyone.

This is the other meaning of the title as you sense regret from Haney that he did not get to know Tiger better or that he had some more feedback so he could help Tiger improve quicker. But maybe Woods is such a unique golfer that as Haney says, he only takes on board 5% of what is suggested to him as he is in control of the rest.

Some have suggested that this book is a bit self-serving by the author, but I disagree. Haney has taken a lot of flack from the world of golf as his swing for Tiger did not seem as visually perfect as the Harmon swing. The comparison of Tiger's record under Haney to that under Harmon was a bit below the belt, but was aimed more at the media than Butch.

What 'The Big Miss' delivers is a compelling story of the biggest name ever to play golf from someone who spent years in his company and was actually involved with Tiger. For anyone interested in golf this is a must read, as looking back it could be the book that started to lift the veil on who Tiger Woods is.

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