The Pro: Lessons About Golf and Life — Book Review

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The Pro: Lessons from My Father About Golf and Life by Claude “Butch” Harmon, Jr.

At its core, “The Pro” is nothing more—or less—than a son’s touching memoir of his father. Like all sons, the author has stong memories of his father and of the life lessons that he taught.

What makes the memoir different is that the father in this case is Claude Harmon and the son, Butch (Claude Jr.)—two very recognizable names in the world of golf.

For the uninitiated, Claude Harmon was a well respected, lifelong club and teaching pro who has the distinction of being the last club pro to win a major (the 1948 Masters). Son Butch also is a well known teaching pro who is perhaps most famous for guiding the game of the young Tiger Woods.

The book is not a linear biography, but rather a collection of vignettes that tell the reader much about the life and times of Claude Harmon, Sr. Butch details his work as a pro, efforts on the Tour, business failures, his ousting as the pro at Winged Foot and resurrection at a club in Texas and of course, his relationshiops iwth family and friends.

Claude Sr seems to be a guy that I very much would liked to have knows: honest, forthright, and generous to a fault. Butch clearly has the utmost love and respect for the man.

The book also is interesting for the role that Ben Hogan plays. Claude, Sr. and Hogan were close friends—so close that Hogan apparently cried upon hearing of Claude’s death. Hogan comes across in the book as a much different fellow than the man of legend—a kind man who loved children. (Another interesting point: Like anyone who ever met him, Butch refers to Ben as Mr. Hogan.)

At the end of each chapter, Butch summarizes his father’s lessons by offering a page of “Claude’s Pearls,” such as “Improvement requires taking a long term approach.” There are no actual golf lessons here, but anygolfer would do well to heed the pro’s wisdom.

It’s a good book, and one I recommend.

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