The International Junior Golf Academy picked up a fresh face in the sport this week and said goodbye to a well-known name.
The academy parted with noted golf instructor Hank Haney, best known as Tiger Woods' former swing coach, whose name has been associated with the Hilton Head Island school the past five years. Peter Orrell, president and CEO at IJGA parent company Junior Sports Corporation, said the split was mutual.
"Hank has made an enormous contribution to the IJGA," Orrell said. "He's a guy I have grown to respect and like. The guy has been an awesome coach and has a great work ethic."
Orrell said a new baby and other professional obligations kept Haney from Hilton Head more than both sides would have liked.
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Haney's agent, Jeremy Aisenberg said in an email he "cannot comment at this time on the status of Hank's role with the IJGA. Once we have finalized all of the details regarding this matter, we will be happy to be as forthcoming as we can at that point."
Kevin Smeltz, an instructor at The David Leadbetter Academy, has been hired to lead instruction at IJGA. Smeltz works with PGA Tour professionals Camilo Villegas, D.A. Points and Charles Howell III.
"He's not going to be here once in a while, he's going to be here all the time," Orrell said.
He said Smeltz expects to spend about 15 percent of the time on the road with his touring clients and the remaining time working with academy students.
Haney's name has been removed from the IJGA website and from the white vans used to transport students.
Haney joined the academy in 2007 as director of instruction. His name was added to the academy in 2008.
The Texas resident owns five golf facilities in South Carolina. According to his website, he has taught more than 200 touring professionals, including Woods and Mark O'Meara.
Haney wrote a best-selling book about his years with Woods, has starred in infomercials and has a television show on the Golf Channel, The Haney Project, during which he re-tools the swings of celebrities.
In March 2008, The Island Packet reported that Haney had acquired partial ownership of the IJGA. Orrell said Wednesday that Haney had never been part-owner, only a consultant who allowed his name and likeness to be used.
In a 2008 news release Haney said he was excited about an academy opening on the West Coast in Arroyo Grande, Calif. Orrell said the IJGA never had a campus in California.
Haney's sponsors, Crocs and TaylorMade, no longer will be affiliated with the IJGA, Orrell said.
IJGA director of training Doug Alexander, who has worked with Haney 25 years as a student and teacher, deferred questions to Aisenberg.
Orrell said the academy is moving in a positive direction. He noted its expansion to four golf courses, investment in high-end teaching technology, quality coaches and a staff club fitter.
He compared the academy's split with Haney to Haney's split from Woods.
"It was time for us to move on," Orrell said.