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Ray Romano watches his shot at the 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
When The Haney Project debuted on Golf Channel in 2009, audiences were captivated. Here was Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Hank Haney, taking on the ultimate project: overhauling Charles Barkley’s punchline-generating swing. It was must-see TV.
In the show’s second season, comedian Ray Romano came aboard. Romano, a self-described 10-handicap, had never broken 80, and the show hinged on the idea that, under Haney’s tutelage, Romano could do it. There was only one problem: According to Haney, Romano was a long way from a 10 handicap.
On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar, Haney described to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz what it was like to coach Romano — and the hilarious reason why he continued to get calls from Romano as he stood on the 18th tee long after the show had wrapped.
“The first time we go out and play, [Romano] shoots 117,” Haney began. “I said to his guy — he’s got a guy following him around — I said, ‘He’s not a 10. He just shot 117.’ He said, ‘Yeah, come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time he broke 90.’ I said, ‘A 10-handicap’s supposed to average 82.’”
Haney said he could see the writing on the wall: Even if he helped Romano immensely, he still wouldn’t be close to breaking 80. Romano, however, surprised him.
“The last day of the show, he shot 80,” Haney said. “And then there was like, four times when he had a chance to break 80 since then, and he never did it. And he’d call me up every time. Literally, on the phone: ‘Hank. I’m on the 18th hole. If I make par on 18 I break 80.’ Or he’d text me. I said, Ray, just play the hole, one shot at a time. Don’t text me and call me when you’re doing it. Every time he’d do it. Every single time.”
Haney said he would then get a text from Romano with an explanation of what happened to derail his quest, like hitting it into a bunker he couldn’t get out of. The pattern continued until last year, when Romano sent Haney a video of a 15-foot putt he had left on 18 that he needed to drain to shoot 79.
“I’m thinking, first off, he’s got the yips, there’s no chance,” Haney said with a laugh. But then, lo and behold, Haney said Romano reported via video that he made the putt.
“Probably the highlight of his life,” Knost remarked.
“It was one of the highlights of mine too, as a coach,” Haney said. “It’s so cool. He has tried like forever to break 80, and he finally did it.”
For more from Haney, including why Haney says Tiger Woods struggled to take his range game to the course, and what a typical off-week with Tiger looked like, check out the full interview below.
As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Issue, which debuted in February 2018. Her original interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.
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