Column: Charles Barkley trying to get rid of worst swing in golf |

Column: Charles Barkley trying to get rid of worst swing in golf

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Is there anything more painful in sports than seeing Charles Barkley swing a golf club?

Sure, most of us don’t like watching any pro basketball player make fewer than 50 percent of their free throw attempts or most National League pitchers swing the bat, but Barkley’s dipping-and-pausing golf swing is so bad it looks like it’s an act to incite some laughs.

Many of his friends wonder why Barkley didn’t give up golf long ago. But having been the butt of too many jokes over the past five years, Barkley is finally doing something to change the worst swing in golf.

The whole world can watch his progression, too.

Who better to try and fix the worst swing in golf than Hank Haney, the coach of the world’s best player ” Tiger Woods. The unlikely pairing has turned into a reality TV show, “The Haney Project,” on The Golf Channel.

After missing the first few episodes, last week I was curious to see how Barkley was progressing. During his annual participation in the American Century Championship, I’ve watched Barkley deteriorate from an average star to the worst celebrity golfer in history. The odd thing, though, is that Barkley can demonstrate a normal swing on the range, but once he gets on the golf course, the hitch-and-go swing takes over.

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It’s sad. No wonder the man drinks.

“I’m living a nightmare,” Barkley said during one episode. “It’s frustrating when you have no idea what’s going to happen when you get (to the golf course).”

Make no mistake, Barkley isn’t exposing his flawed golf game for the world just for a few laughs, and there are many during his exchanges with Haney. Barkley’s goal is to shut up Woods and Michael Jordan, who have been relentless with their barbs about his nonexistent game.

Very few golfers could keep up with Barkley in his practice sessions. He hits 1,000 shots per day on the range and is open-minded to Haney’s cache of ideas. From holding Barkley’s head still during impact to having his pupil swing without looking at the ball, Haney is trying everything in his arsenal to eliminate the evil from his pupil’s golf swing.

Haney claims that the main flaws with Barkley’s swing are that he doesn’t keep his head still and his swing plane is too steep.

“He’s an incredibly severe case. I’m not going to let him have failure on the golf course, even if I have to hold his head on every shot,” Haney said. “I don’t want him to go to the end of the road and not be able to play golf. He’s great for golf and loves the game.”

The early returns indicate that Barkley can’t shake his foul swing. He’ll play a string of holes without his hitch, then it will suddenly creep into his swing again.

“Do I have an idea of what I’m trying to do? America, can I do it? No,” Barkley said. “If this thing doesn’t work, I’m still going to be the one, ‘Hey, he still sucks.”

We’ll get a look for ourselves in July when Barkley participates in the 20th ACC.

” Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or