Butch Harmon: Golf’s Most Respected Instructor - Golf Tip

Butch Harmon is widely regarded as one of the most respected and influential golf instructors in the world. With a long and successful career working with top professional players, Butch Harmon has earned a reputation for his expertise, knowledge, and ability to transform golfers' games. Here are some key points that highlight Butch Harmon's impact on the golfing world:

  1. Legacy of Success:
    • Butch Harmon comes from a family of golf instructors, with his father Claude Harmon Sr. being a renowned instructor as well.
    • Butch Harmon has worked with some of the greatest golfers in history, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, and Ernie Els.
    • His students have achieved remarkable success, winning numerous major championships and earning top rankings in the world of golf.
  2. Strong Technical Knowledge:
    • Butch Harmon possesses an exceptional understanding of the golf swing mechanics and the intricacies of the game.
    • He has a keen eye for identifying swing flaws and developing tailored solutions to improve performance.
    • His teaching style emphasizes solid fundamentals, proper sequencing of the swing, and efficient body movements.
  3. Adaptability and Customization:
    • Butch Harmon recognizes that every golfer is unique and tailors his instruction to suit each individual's needs and abilities.
    • He understands that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and adjusts his teaching methods based on a player's strengths and goals.
    • This adaptability has allowed him to effectively work with golfers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.
  4. Exceptional Communication Skills:
    • Butch Harmon possesses excellent communication skills, enabling him to effectively convey complex concepts to his students.
    • He breaks down technical aspects of the swing into simple, relatable terms that golfers can easily understand and apply.
    • His ability to communicate and connect with his students has contributed to his reputation as a highly sought-after instructor.
  5. Focus on Course Management and Mental Game:
    • Butch Harmon understands that golf is not just about swing mechanics but also about managing the course and maintaining a strong mental game.
    • He emphasizes the importance of strategic decision-making, shot selection, and mental resilience on the golf course.
    • His holistic approach to instruction addresses both the physical and mental aspects of the game, enhancing overall performance.
  6. Continued Commitment to Teaching:
    • Despite his vast success and recognition, Butch Harmon remains dedicated to teaching and helping golfers improve their skills.
    • He continues to mentor and coach golfers at his golf schools and through private lessons, sharing his knowledge and expertise.
    • He also contributes to the golf community through instructional books, DVDs, and appearances as a television commentator.
  7. Trusted Authority and Influencer:
    • Butch Harmon's opinion and insights on golf are highly respected and sought after by golfers, professionals, and media alike.
    • He has become an influential figure in the golfing world, shaping the way instructors approach the game and the teaching methodologies employed.
    • His expertise and credibility have made him a trusted authority on all aspects of golf instruction.

Butch Harmon's impact on the world of golf instruction is immeasurable. His legacy, success with top professionals, technical knowledge, adaptability, communication skills, focus on course management and mental game, continued commitment to teaching, and influence make him golf's most respected instructor.

If you think playing in Tiger Woods’ shadow is tough, try following Butch Harmon as Tiger’s teacher.


Hank Haney and Sean Foley have taken on that task and, despite great success, found their methods critiqued and criticized to the Nth degree. It seems that no matter what Woods accomplishes, a certain segment of the golf media and public will insist that he was better with Butch.

That’s a testament not only to Woods’ remarkable achievements under Harmon’s tutelage, but to Harmon’s standing among his peers, outside observers and fans.

The Harmon-Woods partnership began in 1993, when the skinny kid from California had already established himself as the world’s best junior golfer. Woods proceeded to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles before turning pro and setting the golf world on fire in 1996. He claimed eight major championships and 39 total PGA Tour victories from 1996-2003 – making the first major swing change of his career in 1997 — then stunned golf by ditching Harmon for Haney in 2004.

In 2010 Woods jumped from Haney to Foley, who continues to coach him as of this writing.

Despite Woods’ success with the latter two coaches, including six more majors and 35 total victories, grumbles persist that his swing peaked under Harmon’s watch. Critics point to Woods’ loss of driving accuracy post-Harmon, as well as controversial swing methods instituted by Haney and Foley, as proof of Harmon’s superiority.

Indeed, Harmon carries a credibility no other modern teacher can match. Consider: He’s been voted by his fellow pros as the game’s No. 1 instructor for 12 consecutive years, boasts a roster of world-class clients, and commands $1,000 an hour for personal lessons.

Harmon’s background certainly prepared him for a career as a golf instructor. His father, Claude Harmon, was the 1948 Masters champ and a renowned teacher himself. Butch’s brothers, Dick, Bill and Craig, followed in their dad’s footsteps as well, earning the Harmons the unofficial title, “First Family of Golf.”

But Butch carries a cache no other teacher can match. Just ask Hank Haney and Sean Foley.

Famous students: Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Natalie Gulbis

Core philosophy: Harmon harps on the importance of a sound takeaway. A common trait among his students is that the clubhead is “outside the hands” throughout the initial part of the backswing. (Viewed from behind the golfer looking toward the target, the shaft points slightly toward the target line until it reaches about waist height. This prevents the club from getting too far inside the line and off plane or “behind” the golfer at the top.)

Harmon also preaches the benefits of swing “width,” meaning the hands extend well away from the body on the backswing to create a big, powerful arc. This is well illustrated by Davis Love III, another of Harmon’s prize pupils. He’s also helped pros like Woods, Mickelson and Els shorten their swings without sacrificing width and power.

Classic Harmon-style tip: The ideal swing is both wide and short, or compact, meaning the arms stop moving when the shoulders stop rotating on the backswing. Harmon says many amateur golfers break this rule, so their left arm folds and/or the wrists cock too much, dipping the club past parallel. The golfer then casts the club out and across the target line on the downswing, causing a weak slice.

He suggests curing this by imagining the hands pushing away from the head on the backswing, maintaining as much distance (width) as possible between hands and head to the very top. As long as your arms and shoulders stay in sync, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a wider arc – more distance without the slice.