Butch Harmon is a legendary golf instructor who has worked with household names like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Fred Couples. Given his history in the sport, it’s not a surprise that his son, Claude Harmon III, followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a golf instructor.
While Claude’s client list isn’t quite as impressive as Butch’s, he works with some of the top players on the PGA Tour today. One of those golfers is four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, who credits the younger Harmon with changing his swing and improving his game.
The Harmons’ golf careers
After serving in the army, Butch had a brief career on the PGA Tour in 1970-71, winning one event. He first rose to fame as an instructor in the early 1990s, working with Greg Norman. And he’s most famous for advising Woods from 1993-2004.
According to ButchHarmonFloridian.com, the third-generation instructor Claude never played professionally, but he has a lot of experience with top golfers like Koepka, Rickie Fowler, and Ernie Els. Golf Digest ranked him six on the publication’s 2019-20 list of the Best Teachers in America, and he’s also a top 100 instructor according to Golf Magazine. Claude regularly provides his expertise with commentary on Golf Channel and, in the U.K., on Sky Sports.
Brooks Koepka works with Claude Harmon to change his swing
According to Golf Digest, Koepka started working on his swing with Claude in 2013, and in the years they’ve been working together Koepka has altered his swing based on Claude’s advice. Brooks credits Claude with helping to make his swing more repeatable.
Previously, Koepka favored a draw and missed both ways; now, he hits a power fade that allows him to maintain more consistency with his swings. Claude explained to Golf.com that for Koepka to successfully fade the ball, he must keep the clubhead outside his hands while taking the club back.
A lot of people break down early in their swing, but Claude says in that interview the secret is that “the first move on the takeaway should feel like nothing is really happening,” and that has been true since his grandfather, Eugene Claude Harmon Sr., was advising his golfers of the same thing more than 50 years ago.
Harmon isn’t the only coach Brooks Koepka has worked with
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Harmon has had a significant influence on Koepka’s game, but he’s not the only coach who has instructed the 30-year-old. In recent years, Koepka has been working with European coach Pete Cowen, who has helped improve Koepka’s short game. And that relationship has paid off.
Cowen sat down with Koepka to discuss his game shortly before the 2017 U.S. Open, and Koepka went on to win that tournament — the first major championship of his career. He would then go on to win three more majors over the next couple of years — another U.S. Open and two PGA Championships — all since he started working with Cowen.
The coach tells Golf Channel what he says to help Koepka refocus on his game when needed. According to Cowen, he discussed “A few home truths of where he’s at and what he needs to do.” He says that Koepka needs that reminder sometimes when he gets a bad attitude that won’t help him win tournaments, and ” there aren’t many people who can do it to him.”
Cowen has a history of helping golfers win majors by giving them some words of wisdom. He gave Henrik Stetson a pep talk before the 2016 British Open, a tournament Stetson won. And in 2011 Cowen had a chat with Darren Clarke ahead of that year’s British Open, and — you guessed it — Clarke finished at the top of that year’s field.