Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Golf coach: Hank Haney violated code
By Farrell Evans
ESPN.com senior golf writer
ORLANDO -- Rick Smith, a long-time swing instructor on the PGA Tour and former teacher to Phil Mickelson and other notable players, including Rocco Mediate and Lee Janzen, spoke out on Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational about Hank Haney's forthcoming book, "The Big Miss," about the teacher's six years as Tiger Woods' swing coach.
"I would rather be broke and not have a penny to my name before I violate the code of player-teacher confidentiality," Smith said. "In 27 years out here, I've never done that. I'm personally upset with Hank because he's broken and violated our code of ethics. If you have the opportunity and you're privileged to conversations, you will not and should not share anything from them with anyone. I don't care who it is.
"For all the guys who have committed their lives to teaching, this should be very upsetting and I know that I'm not the only one that feels this way. What Hank did is against the rules."
Smith, who stopped coaching Mickelson after the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, still retains a close personal and business relationship with the four-time major champion. For years, Smith says, he and Mickelson would not discuss with anyone what they were working on. Smith would get permission from Mickelson and other players to answer media questions.
"Your relationship with these players is for a lifetime. All the guys that I have worked with are still my dearest friends," Smith said. "Obviously, Hank was convinced that it was great that everybody knew about his work with Tiger and that it was substantial financially for him to write this book. But you can't put a dollar value on something that is an ethical violation."
Smith said Haney should "suck up" any ill feelings that he might have toward Woods after their working relationship ended in 2010, and be "grateful" and "appreciative" for the chance to work with one of the greatest players of all time.
"The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods" will be released March 27.