WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER TENT!
By John Andrisani, co-author of the bestselling book, The Four Cornerstones of Winning Golf, written with Claude “Butch” Harmon
When first meeting Claude “Butch” Harmon, and soon after doing some exploratory work, in order to get enough material sufficient enough for me to write a book proposal, Butch was reserved, and all-business when it came to talking about his father, the late 1948 Masters champion, and the great teacher based at the prestigious Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, most of the year, and in the winter, Seminole.
However, when recalling his “job” as the personal golf instructor to His Royal Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, he opened up, so much so that I could see he really had a dry sense of humor.
One of the best stories Butch told me that enhanced our book proposal and helped this formal type of preview be solid, instructionally, and entertaining, in order to sell the publisher on the book, The Four Cornerstones of Winning Golf, was this one:
“One day I was giving the King a lesson in a tent equipped with fans to keep us cool in the sweltering heat. So as not to let too much hot air in, the front flap of the tent was turned up just high enough for the golf balls to fly out, but not high enough for me or the King to see the direction the balls took. Consequently, the King couldn’t tell if he was hitting slices, hooks, shanks, pushes, or sky shots.
“I explained to His Majesty that I didn’t want to teach this way. I told him that I like to teach off the ball – meaning that, for the student’s benefit, I relate the curvature of a shot to a particular shape of swing. That way, the student is able to understand how a certain type of swing path (e.g., in-to-out, out-to-in) can created a particular kind of shot (e.g., duck hook, push slice). In short, I made it clear to the King that in order for him to improve on his 20 handicap, he needed to see the flight of the ball.
“The next day when we drove up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus had moved into town. The tent was so big that the King could now hit full shots in it without reaching the other side. And he didn’t have to worry about one of his sky shots hitting the top of the tent. The ceiling was around 75 feet high.
“No wonder this guy’s picture is on all the money!” I thought to myself.”