Bill Harmon on the Masters 2017 – Day #2

Wow! Maybe my most memorable day ever at The Masters. I’m not sure how I will be able to capture it all, but I’ll try.

The day started with an hour conversation with one of the greatest minds in golf, Peter Cowen and Jay Haas. Peter was recently featured in a Golf Digest article and he is a very knowledgeable and interesting man. He teaches Henrik Stenson, Danny Willet, Thomas Pieters, and many others. He is fascinating and it was perhaps the most informative hour I have ever spent with an instructor. I’ll try to share some pearls.

I’m quite certain that I’m not going to explain things as well as he did, but I’ll try. There was lots of info to process!

Tour players average hitting 44 full shots a round. Each swing lasted 1.2 seconds, so in a round of golf they are only swinging the golf club for 1 minute! Most players will tell you they hit maybe 5 perfect shots a round so the others are all either OK, indifferent, or poor and the brain has to figure out which shots to process and what it’s telling the body to do.

Most players, coaches, and trainers don’t know how the body is supposed to move. As the power game has evolved and equipment has changed, players are creating more speed but in a manner that is injuring the body. Peter said there is a difference between “speed and force”. One has to learn how to apply force to the ball more than speed. Still processing this! He explained some of the physical movements but believes the muscles need to be retrained through specific exercises. He doesn’t think doing 15 minutes of exercises should be too much to ask of his students to get better! He gave Jay an exercise to do!

He feels Thomas Pieters has the most efficient swing of his students, because he’s been with him since he was 12. He said it took years to rebuild Stenson’s swing.

He believes power is created like a spring, from the ground up. He wants to understand what causes body motions.

He mentioned that he believes the shoulder muscles control the force of the swing. There is a “punching down” motion in good swings.

I’m going to stop right here because I’m still trying to digest all we talked about! If you are confused, I understand, because he explained things MUCH better than I can and I’m sure I may be misrepresenting his thoughts!

I spent some time talking to Adam Scott about his decision to “go solo” for awhile, no coach, just figuring things out himself. He mentioned that he felt his address positions dictates so much of how he swings. He felt his swing hadn’t changed dramatically over the years but his fundamentals at address can get sloppy. We talked a bit on how swings should perhaps evolve rather than making big changes all the time. I’ve felt for years that sometimes self knowledge and experience could be the “best mentors” rather constantly changing your swing. I had an interesting conversation about that. Adam is one of my favorite people I’ve ever met in the game of golf, a true gentleman.

I had an incredible hour in the Champions’ Locker Room. Bob Goalby was nice enough to invite me up and I must say it is always an emotional experience for me. Surprisingly, I choked up when I saw my dad’s locker and touched his name plate. I was inundated with a flood of memories and felt so proud of his accomplishments. I also felt so grateful for what golf has done for me.

Tom Watson walked in and sat at the table and I had one of the most enjoyable half hour of my golfing life as we discussed swings, his experiences with winning and losing, strategy, and a kaleidoscope of other topics. He talked about what he had learned from Byron Nelson, Ken Venturi, and Jack Nicklaus. As I was sitting with Tom, Raymond and Robert Floyd came and sat down. A few years ago, I was asked what’s it like to be a “Harmon” and my answer was “It’s cool”! Never did I feel it was cooler to be a Harmon than I did today. I’m a very grateful and lucky man.

As most of you know, I had an interesting year dealing with cancer in my throat. The treatment was long and difficult, but I always felt that I would be OK. I have never dreamt that I could ever feel as good as I do now. I’ve been deeply touched by the players, caddies, coaches and other golf dignitaries that have approached me this week and asked how I was doing. It’s been an amazing journey for me this last year and with the help of so many, I’m able to have a day like I had today. I am truly blessed!

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1 Comment

  1. Nimy Reager says: Reply

    You deserve a day like today Billy.
    You have helped more people than you know.
    I’ll never forget the stories you shared abut your father and brothers, and Jay, of course.

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