Brandel Chamblee bites back at criticism from Butch Harmon

Harmon Chamblee

The PGA Tour might still be on a coronavirus-enforced lockdown but that hasn't stopped two of the game's biggest personalities getting into something of a 'war of words'.

In the red corner: Butch Harmon, iconic coach and the man who guided Tiger Woods to the first eight of his 15 major championship victories. 

In the blue corner: former PGA Tour pro and now one of the most outspoken voices in golf media, Brandel Chamblee. 

The beef began when Harmon, speaking to his son and fellow instructor Claude on Instragram Live, took issue with Chamblee's claim in Golfweek that he could fix Jordan Spieth's game "in two seconds". 

Comparing Spieth's swing from 2015 to the present day, Chamblee noted a "body position change" and hinted that the three-time major winner's coach, Cameron McCormick, was responsible for taking him down the wrong path. 

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Harmon didn't like that, saying: "If it was that simple, Brandel, you should go fix it."

He added: "I like Brandel. Brandel and I have been friends forever. I think he does a great job on TV. But the difference is, Brandel is not an instructor. Brandel was a Tour player. And he wasn’t that great of Tour player anyway. He was a middle-of-the-pack kind of guy. He’s got a beautiful golf swing, but he wasn’t the greatest player.”

Speaking on this week's edition of his eponymous podcast, Chamblee hit back.

"You can pick any analyst in any sport and is not only their job to talk about the players but the coaches who impact those players," said Chamblee, who added that he has spoken  to Harmon privately about his criticism. "So, when I’m talking about the coaching in the game, it is squarely in my lane. Even though Butch didn’t say I should stay in my lane, he implied that talking about coaching was not in my lane. 

"Now, I like Butch but that is my lane, talking about the coaching, because it affects the players. I guess my overall beef in the industry is that there’s no clear way to objectively judge coaches. 

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"If we all knew exactly when a coach started working with a player and if we all knew exactly how many players a coach is working with, we could objectively judge the work of coaches. It’s very hard to do that and I work very hard to do that. Not to impugn coaches but to laud the ones that are having success, as I told Butch.

"At a bare minimum, a coach’s job is to do no harm."

Harmon's son Claude also took Chamblee to task - perhaps not much of a surprise considering the Golf Channel analyst's many well-documented run-ins with Claude's star player, Brooks Koepka. 

“Everything kind of feeds into his kind of narrative," said Claude. "To me, he just says things to get more lines for his character and the drama he’s trying to play,”

Not so, says Chamblee.

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"Claude is upset with me because I had to audacity to not cede the ground of the best mind in the game to his player, Brooks Koepka," he said. "As long as Tiger Woods is in the game, nobody is going to get that slot. Tiger Woods has got the best mind in the game, maybe the best mind that’s ever been in the game. I certainly admire Koepka’s talent and abilities but I’m sorry, there’s nobody stronger, mentally, in the game of golf than Tiger Woods. I think that was on display the week I said it, at The Masters last year."

He added: "I have tremendous respect for Butch as a teacher, and many other teachers in the game. I consider many of them my best friends. I enjoy them a lot. But talking about teaching? That is my lane."

To listen to the podcast in full, click here.

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