Chris BaldwinThis Week at TravelGolf.com: May 17, 2007

Mickelson putting a swing coach pox on PGA Tour golf with his Butch Harmon love

Phil Mickelson's blossoming schoolgirl crush on Butch Harmon is cute and all. Even if they did get yelled at in Mr. Allen's seventh-grade biology class for passing those notes with snazzy hand-drawn hearts.

Still, it's one of the worst things that can happen to golf. Not the particular pairing. Mickelson-Harmon isn't going to mean anything in the long run with Tiger Woods around. And it might even provide more unforgettably tender moments.

If Phil somehow wins another green jacket will he and Harmon both strip off their shirts in perfect synchronization and run around Augusta National shrieking a la Brandi Chastain?

The Mickelson-Harmon union is just a symptom of a larger plague: The increasing adoration of swing coaches on the PGA Tour level.

College basketball lost its charm once the coaches became mega celebrity endorsement machines who are bigger than the players and, in some cases, larger than the entire university. Self-serving windbags like Mike Krzyzewski squeeze much of the joy out of the college game, turning it into a three-week March gambling event rather than a sports one.

Now, it seems like golf is determined to adopt those ways.

Tiger actually struck a blow to this maddening advance of swing coach mania when he ditched Harmon for basically acting too much like a college hoops coach (taking all the credit). But by embracing Butch out of desperation and a need to give the media something to talk about besides his own brain farts, Mickelson is pushing it even farther the other direction.

Think about watching golf in the 1980s. Heck, the early 90s. Did you ever hear about a swing coach?

Maybe once every month. Maybe. Now the Leadbetters get more TV time than Regis Philbin.

Sure Jack Nicklaus had a swing coach, Jack Grout. But Nicklaus wasn't as dependent on his coach as a toddler can be on a blanket like so many of today's players.

"I really didn't run to Jack Grout every five minutes for a golf lesson," Nicklaus told Golf Today. " I don't know how the guys do it. But that's the way they've grown up."

Like wimps. And it's only getting worse and making golf look worse.

As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.



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