Quick 9: The incredible career of Butch Harmon
Butch Harmon is stepping away from the world of tour golf. The teacher is generally renowned as being the best in the business but, at 75, he is shutting things down a bit.
“I told my guys that I wasn’t going to go out on tour anymore but if they wanted my help they can always come here (to Vegas),” Harmon said. “The only event I will now travel to is The Masters because I will do the Sky Sports broadcast and that will be the only television I do.
“In all honesty, it was just time; 35 years of traveling the tour has been a long grind and I was tired of the whole thing. The travel, the hotels, the restaurants, the pressure of it wore me out. It’s time for me to start enjoying my life.”
His son Claude will take over some of his work, with the likes of Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, and he will still be on the end of the phone to pass on his wisdom.
Here we touch on his remarkable career..
The incredible career of Butch Harmon
1. What does his CV like?
How about this – Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Darren Clarke, Justin Leonard, Nick Watney, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Gary Woodland, Brandt Snedeker, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Natalie Gulbis, Danielle Kang and, most recently, Ollie Schniederjans.
Oh, and King Hassan II in Morocco.
2. It’s in the genes
And how about this for a golfing dynasty – his dad Claude Harmon Sr won The Masters in 1948. He was the head pro at Winged Foot and, in the winter, Seminole and he had four sons Butch, Dick, Billy and Craig.
Dick, who died in 2006, was the head pro at River Oaks and taught Craig Stadler, Lanny Wadkins, Jay Haas, Fred Couples, Steve Elkington and Lucas Glover. Craig was the head pro at Oak Hill while Billy has worked with Bill Haas and worked as an instructor on the Golf Channel.
Butch’s son Claude Harmon III has taken over the reins on DJ and Rickie Fowler as well as also teaching Brooks Koepka.
3. What was he like as a player?
Playing wise Butch played in one major, the 1970 US Open at Hazeltine where Tony Jacklin won by seven.
He turned pro in 1965 and went through various qualifying schools to play the pro tour and won once, the Broome County Open, which was a one-round satellite tournament before it became a PGA Tour event two years later. The victory came after a five-hole play-off.
“My ball-striking was pretty good. My short game is much better now. And temperament is a thousand times better now. I thought I had to hit every shot perfect, and it kept me from being a better player. But being a perfectionist has made me a better teacher.”
4. How much for a lesson with Butch?
He charged $20 for a half-hour lesson in 1966, the year after he got out of Vietnam.
In 2017 he told Golf Digest that a lesson with Butch would set you back $1500 whether you are an amateur off the street or a tour pro.
In the future he’ll still teach from Vegas where any player can fly in for some time with him and he’ll continue with the golf schools and young pros and college players.
On the next page we learn more about Butch’s workings with Tiger and Phil and what his favourite courses are…