Charles Barkley explains how he became so embarrassingly bad at golf

Of the many truisms in the game of golf, the fact that Charles Barkley will never be good at this maddening game is chief among them.

Do you remember Hank Hankey’s 2009 attempt to rehabilitate Barkley’s degenerate golf swing?

Anyway, speaking with reporters ahead of the American Century Championship, Barkley described the competition as “the one thing we look forward to every year.” He’s competed (in a sense) in the Lake Tahoe event 22 times previously.

Look, bagging on Barkley for how poor his game isn’t really fair. What does the average golfer shoot? 100? What would that score be in roped-off-with-spectators competition? 220? The shocking thing about Barkley is a) professional athletes are usually respectable golfers and b) that swing.

“That swing” has failed to produce a par in two of the last three American Century Championships.

Sir Charles is remarkably levelheaded about his poor play.

“I get to play with great players and great athletes so that makes it special, and I’ve developed some great relationships, like with Kevin Nealon,” Barkley said. “I don’t really have any goals, man. I’d love to be better, but if I get out there and smoke a couple cigars, I’m good. . . .It’s not like it’s the worst thing in the world, sucking at golf.”

But it’s worth remembering that, as much Barkley’s suckage is a given, he wasn’t always been so bad. In the early years of the tournament, he carded scores in the 80s. Even in in 2003, he broke 100.

Barkley told reporters about the genesis of his embarrassing scores.

“Everybody knows I suck at golf now because I’ve got this nervous twitch,” Barkley said. “I ain’t always been a bum on the golf course. I’m a bum now, but I used to break 80 all the time. I started taking all these lessons from all these people and these wires crossed in my brain. I just can’t get out of my own way.”

In other words, paralysis by analysis, trying to consciously control elements of the swing, all that stuff coaches warn against. He’s still trying to improve, saying he’s “got more [golf swing] contraptions at my house than any person in the history of civilization.”

Sounds like a candidate for Natural Golf, Balance Point, or some similar school of golf instruction that tries to limit the interference of the conscious mind.

While Barkley’s plight may be amusing, it’s not an uncommon one. Amateurs, trying to get better, start overthinking every element of their swings and try to adhere to a dozen swing thoughts at much. The result: A semi-coordinated spasm. You know, like Charles Barkley’s golf swing. And if you want to laugh at it, fine, but the Barkley Problem is an issue for ever-increasingly technical golf instructors: How to deal with a student whose swing has become anything but a free-flowing motion.

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