June 17, 2009–As has been well chronicled in the past, the busiest person at major golf championships just might be Las Vegas' own Butch Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club. He bounces around the range tending to the pros he works with, fulfills media requests, and does announcing work for Sky TV. Last year at Torrey Pines for the US Open, within a half-an-hour he bounced between talks with Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, and Las Vegas resident Nick Watney, keeping his cool and making a difference for each just minutes before they teed off. This year at the US Open at Bethpage Black in New York is no different.
But in addition to his swing coach duties with each of his many pros playing, Harmon has also been a positive influence on Mickelson as he and his family work through the diagnosis that his wife, Amy, has been stricken with breast cancer. Mickelson said that leaning on Harmon during his ordeal has been a welcome distraction. "We want to try to keep life as normal as we can." said Mickelson in a press conference, while telling the media that he would visualize his swing during the long hours. "When Amy was going through tests and I'm sitting in a hospital for 10 hours I would think about a lot of things. But I would take a break and think about my golf swing. I would talk to Butch. Even though we didn't hit any balls I actually got my swing to where we wanted it … and I'm very optimistic about my ball striking this week."
"Can he hold his concentration over 72 holes?" Harmon was quoted as saying by AP Writer and Las Vegas resident Tim Dahlberg. "That's the question. But that might not be a bad thing. Phil has proven that he can overanalyze things too much sometimes. Maybe keeping everything simple will be a good thing."
At Bethpage, Harmon is again busy on the course with his pros, and spent time earlier in the week with Scott, who recently missed 7 out of 8 cuts, the worst streak of his career. Scott, who played college golf at UNLV, is still working with Harmon, but was quoted as saying that he also recently took some time by himself to try and sort out his problems.
"Sometimes you need to get away from everyone's opinion," Scott, who dislocated his knee cap last year, told the Australian Herald Sun. "I would ask Geoff (Ogilvy), Tony (caddie Tony Navarro), David my trainer, Butch (coach Butch Harmon). "It was all too much. It just got too complicated. You've seen where I've been hitting it occasionally and I just couldn't figure out why it was so far (off line). When I swing great, I've got one of the simplest swings out here. I just needed to get away and find my own swing again. I tried to stay positive but after five or six weeks it was starting to get to me. Colonial (tournament three weeks ago) was the final straw. The first two days were disgraceful. After that there was no point playing." Heading into the US Open in 2008, Scott was the third-ranked player in the world, near the top of the game with a swing that he and Harmon honed, and many compared to Tiger Woods.
The Butch Harmon School of Golf is open to the public and is located on the driving range of Rio Secco Golf Club, a Las Vegas golf course designed by Rees Jones. Harmon has been voted as the World's Top Golf Instructor in a poll of his peers conducted by Golf Digest, and is an active member of the Las Vegas golf community. He is involved with The First Tee of Southern Nevada and is a member of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame, and annually holds a charity event with Las Vegas golfer and 4-time Cy Young-winner Greg Maddux. Click now for the official website of Rio Secco Golf Club.