At the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, GOLF RETAILING enjoyed an exclusive interview with world-renowned coach Hank Haney, who is a spokesperson for SkyPro swing analysers, as well as being Tiger Woods’ former coach. We talked to Hank about how he uses SkyPro, and about THAT book
How do you use the SkyPro swing analyser in your teaching?
One of the great things about SkyPro is that students can use it to help themselves. So you give someone a lesson, you show them the things they need to do or the things they need to improve, where their weaknesses are, and now they can actually have a check-up with SkyPro, and they can have the parameters set to monitor take-away, back swing, and address, and all the positions of the swing. So SkyPro allows people an opportunity to work as if they were there with their teacher, by telling them to work on getting their take-away, or whatever the focus is. It’s a great way to have real, monitored practice when the coach isn’t there.
Perhaps the biggest thing is that I love the fact it’s so accurate. If you see something that comes up and it’s not an accurate reading you lose confidence in the whole programme, but I really think that SkyPro is a great device.
Do you sell SkyPro at your academies?
Yes, absolutely, and it’s easy to use. Good tools need to be user-friendly. When you switch on SkyPro the programme pops up straight away on your phone or iPad, so it is easy to use, accurate and it provides golfers with great information for improving their technique. We have talked about different things that would be important to see on Sky Pro, and it’s an ongoing process. The data SkyPro produces is of use to every teacher, not just for Hank Haney.
Your profile has gone up considerably since you worked with Tiger Woods. How much time are you spending teaching these days?
I tend do a lot of clinics now, and I have my academies, although I don’t personally teach private lessons anymore. I do a lot of corporate outings and last year I held clinics for over 15,000 people. So I do a lot of big group sessions and I talk a lot! Sometimes there can be 500 golfers at one clinic, so by the end of the year it adds up to a lot of people that I’m reaching. It’s a much broader audience than when I was just teaching individual lessons.
Is your business still primarily Texas-based?
Yes; I have two academies in Dallas and a golf course in East Texas too. I’ve got 15 teachers that work for me in Dallas now.
When you wrote ‘The Big Miss’, about your book about your time with Tiger, you said it might mean the end of your teaching career on tour. Has that proved to be the case?
Once I started working with Tiger, I decided I was never gone to teach again anyway. As soon as I had the opportunity to work with Tiger, I said, “He’s going to be my last student”. I said that to my wife, to my friends, I said it to myself. You know, I didn’t really care if there were ramifications to writing a book. I never understood that. I’m not the first coach to write a book, so I never could understand why I was the only coach who wasn’t supposed to write a book. In every other sport coaches write books; why am I not allowed to? Why am I a bad guy for writing a book?
But you know, when people have read the book the response I get is overwhelming; it’s positive and the thing is, the number one response I got about the book by far – not even close – was: “I’m a big Tiger Woods fan and after reading the book I’m a bigger fan”. You know, it was a very positive book about the greatness that is Tiger Woods. We could pick quotes out of any book and make it sound controversial. The crux of it was that people came away thinking: “What an athlete; what a determined individual”. Some people thought Tiger also sounded like a hard guy to work for, but you know, that didn’t come as a shock to anyone, did it? (Laughing) That wasn’t like a news flash or anything.
I’m not sure how many copies the book has sold so far, but it has done very well.
Has Tiger buried the hatchet with you?
I haven’t talked to him, but to be honest I didn’t know there was a hatchet to bury.
When the book was published, there was talk from Tiger’s representatives that it was the wrong thing to do.
Yeah, whatever. There were more than just his memories from the time; why are they just his memories? They’re my memories too. The last time I talked to Tiger was when I resigned as his coach and he said to me: “The most important thing, Hank, is that we’ve been great friends, and that we stay great friends”. And that was the last I ever heard from him.
In a technological advance launched by SkyGolf at the 2014 PGA Show, the SkyPro app swing analyser now features new putting analysis capability, that is designed to allow golfers to perfect their putting stroke and lower their scores, by providing instant feedback about club face position, stroke length, tempo and more. New content includes expert practice tips from leading instructors including Hank Haney himself, as well as the PGA of America’s 2012 Teacher of the Year, Michael Breed. In addition, SkyGolf promises that SkyPro’s new user interface is easier, faster and more intuitive than the original version, thereby enhancing the learning experience for golfers of all levels.
“More than 40% of all golf shots are putts, which is why it’s so critical for golfers to work on this part of the game if they want to improve their scores,” says Breed. “SkyPro uses the latest technology to help golfers gain confidence in their putting by working on grooving a more consistent, solid stroke every time they practice rather than repeating their faults. This new confidence and skill will help golfers lower their scores and improve the overall enjoyment of the game.”
The SkyPro is about the size of a flash drive, and weighs less than one ounce. It is designed to attach easily to the shaft of any golf club just below the grip, making it virtually undetectable. Thousands of critical data points about a golfer’s swing path, club head speed, swing plane, club face rotation, shaft angles and much more are instantly sent via Bluetooth to a free app on their smartphone, to view their swing from address back to impact from any angle in true 3D high-definition.
New Groove and Practice Sessions provide instant feedback on successful swings, identify common faults immediately and offer fun challenge sessions to correct the flaws. Golfers can track their strengths and weaknesses through skills tests and evaluate those skill levels with verifiable milestones to start making more putts and hitting the ball longer, straighter and more consistently than ever before.
“One of the greatest advantages of SkyPro is that it’s easy to practice anywhere, anytime,” said Jacqui Surman, Senior Vice President International Sales & Marketing, SkyGolf. “Golfers can use any club to groove their swing or putting stroke at home, on the range, or the practice green all year long, rain or shine. SkyPro is also interactive, allowing golfers to share instantly with their instructor or friends on Facebook and Twitter.”
SkyPro comes with a UK RRP of £169.95 in 2014.