‘That’s no swing’
STATELINE – In the golf world, no one wants their golf swing compared to Charles Barkley’s.
Watching Barkley swing a golf club is as painful as seeing Shaquille O’Neal shooting free throws.
Barkley’s swing has the rhythm of Edith Bunker from “All in the Family” and more starts and stops than a bumper car ride at the county fair.
“It’s a thing of beauty,” said former NBA sharpshooter Steve Kerr. “I think the hitch started when he lost a bunch of money at the craps table and he started thinking about his losses during his backswing.”
Barkley didn’t have that infamous hitch in his swing when six-time American Century champion Rick Rhoden was paired with him eight years ago.
“He had a normal swing and hit the ball a long ways … he’d shoot in the 80s and was just a little wild,” Rhoden said. “He showed up here one year with that swing and he’s had it ever since. I don’t know where he got it. Maybe somebody can hypnotize him or something.”
The pause that Barkley makes part way through his downswing has reduced the distance and accuracy of his shots. Consequently, his scores have gotten worse.
“That’s not a swing,” said three-time championship winner Dan Quinn. “There’s no possible way you can call that a swing … it’s got too many stop and starts.
“The best thing I ever heard somebody say to describe Charles was if somebody was pitching to him and he was about to hit the golf ball, it’s like a pitcher balking. Charles should actually get a mulligan on every hole because he balks on every shot.”
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox can’t understand why Barkley can’t duplicate the swings he makes on the driving range.
“You watch him on the range and a lot of times he doesn’t do that when he’s swinging. He actually has a really good swing. He starts trying to be a little too perfect on the course,” Maddox said.
Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski equates Barkley’s swing to someone who is too nervous to execute a short putt.
“I’ve never seen anybody have the yips on a backswing,” Bartkowski said. “I’ve seen it in putting and I’ve actually experienced it a few times, but to be a world-class athlete like Chuck and not be able to take it back in one fluid motion and come back to the ball, baffles me.
“All I know is I’m glad he’s here … he’s a great guy.”
Barkley has become increasingly frustrated with his golf game. In a break before his back nine on Friday, “The Round Mound of Rebound” said, “I’ve had all types of suggestions. (They’ve) said to use range balls and everybody else is telling me to go left-handed. That’s for real, no joke. The last three guys have told me to go left-handed.”
NBC golf announcer Roger Maltbie reportedly has given Barkley lessons but his swing looks the same as always.
“It’s got to be better. Roger (Maltbie) stinks,” Barkley said.
Spectators haven’t spared Barkley’s feelings either.
While preparing to hit his tee shot on the first hole Saturday, Barkley told some fans within striking range, “Hold up or I’ll hit you in a heartbeat.”
To which a fan next to the tee responded, “Not if you aim.”
The top players on the celebrity tour haven’t tried to help Barkley because they think he has the best teacher of all as a friend.
“One of his best friends is Tiger Woods and if he can’t help him, I know I can’t help him,” Rhoden said. “As long as Charles is having fun, who cares.”