PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A mother teed off on Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney and his golf academy in a federal fraud complaint. The mom claims Haney promised monthly lessons for a year and a “meaningful relationship” with her son for $30,000, but gave her son just 7 minutes of personal instruction, partly because he was so busy with Woods, Rush Limbaugh and TV star Ray Romano.
Maureen Fitzgerald and her son sued Haney, the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, and two other companies also based on Hilton Head, S.C.: Junior Golf. Corp. and Riverside Co.
Fitzgerald says that the defendants promise in their promotional material that Haney is “not just a name on the door,” but that his students will develop a “personal relationship with Haney,” including monthly swing instruction.
“As defendant Hank Haney explained it, sending your child to his Golf Academy is ‘the greatest opportunity you can possibly give your child to develop not
only as a golfer but as a person,'” according to the complaint. “Compelled by this advertising, plaintiff Maureen Fitzgerald paid $30,000, plus associated costs and expenses, and sent her son, plaintiff Matthew Teesdale, a talented junior golfer, to defendant Hank Haney’s Golf Academy. In return, Ms. Fitzgerald’s son received a total of seven (7) minutes of golf lessons from defendant Hank Haney the entire year. There was certainly no ‘personal relationship’ developed as defendant Hank Haney did not know Matthew Teesdale’s name and the feedback he received was, at best, terse and shoddy.”
Fitzgerald adds: “Defendants broke nearly every one of its promises that they put forth to induce plaintiffs to pay $30,000 and have Matthew attend Hank Haney’s IJGA.”
The mother says her then-18-year-old son Matthew, a talented junior golfer, arrived at the Academy in the summer of 2009. During his year there, she says, Matthew had just four encounters with Haney, which lasted a total of 7 minutes.
“Defendant Hank Haney’s interactions with Matthew were so fleeting that no personal relationship could have been formed. Moreover, the ‘one on one’ guidance from defendant Hank Haney was generic and sporadic,” the complaint states. Haney’s performance assessments of Matthew were similarly “short, vague and generic,” the plaintiffs say.
“Most of the notes given seemed to apply to all of the students and were not individualized to any relevant degree,” the complaint states.
When Matthew was assessed on seven mental characteristics, “Defendants merely issued to him a list of percentages next to each of the seven (7) categories … with absolutely no explanation for how these numbers were calculated,” according to the complaint.
A report included in the complaint purports to offer Haney’s observations and recommendations after a visit with Matthew in the spring of 2010. The recommendations from Haney and his director of instruction last for two sentences, but “brevity is not the biggest problem with this report,” the mom says.
“Of more concern is the fact that the report is blatantly false, since Matthew was in Florida that week and never had a lesson with defendant Hank Haney. So not only have defendants failed in delivering on its promises but they are also lying about keeping them.”
The complaint states: “It is now known that during the time that defendant Hank Haney was supposed to be teaching Matthew and the other students at his Golf Academy, he was teaching someone else (besides Tiger Woods at the time) – despite what defendants advertised. At minimum, defendant Hank Haney was also personally teaching actor Ray Romano and taping a television series in his name. Upon information and belief, defendant Hank Haney was also providing personal lessons to Rush Limbaugh instead of making sure that his students were progressing.
“Thus, while defendant Hank Haney was taking $30,000 from plaintiffs for seven (7) minutes of ‘lessons,’ he was also making a substantial amount of money teaching non-IJGA students – in direct contradiction to defendants’ publicized representations regarding defendant Hank Haney’s dedication to his Golf Academy.”
Fitzgerald and her son seek punitive damages for fraud, misrepresentation, and consumer-law violations. They are represented by Laura Mattiacci with the Console Law Offices in Philadelphia.
Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy did not immediately return a request for comment. According to the complaint, Haney lives in Texas.