Charles Barkley: Swing and a Miss
Former athletes weigh-in on Sir Charles’ golf game.
by Jonathan Santiago / @itsJONsantiago
Charles Barkley is one of many former and current athletes participating in next week’s American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe. At 500-1 odds, Barkley’s chances of winning are slim to none to say the least. And here’s why:
He plans on playing left-handed, citing that he isn’t doing any better as a righty. In a conference call this morning with media, I asked some of the favorites from this year’s field their opinions of Barkley’s swing.
“When you see him hit balls on the range, you think he’s got it,” said Turner Sports MLB Analyst and 1996 NL Cy Young Award Winner John Smoltz. “But then some transitions are not easily made. When he gets to the course, he can’t pull the trigger.”
One of this year’s ACC favorites, former MLB pitcher Rick Rhoden, recalls a time when Barkley was actually a decent golfer.
“I remember I played one round with him one year in the tournament,” he began. “Played with him in the early days and he shot I think a 78 or something. He had a normal swing. And then all of a sudden he showed up out there one year with the yips he’s got. And it’s been like that ever since.”
Dan Quinn, a former NHL hockey player turned pro golfer, isn’t quite sure if Barkley can turn his golf game around any time soon.
“Is there hope?” Quinn asked with a laugh. “I don’t know.
“Charles is the best,” he added. “I think it’s great what he does for golf in general. He opens up to a lot of people. He’s done his thing with Hank Haney on the Golf Channel and what not. But we’ve watched him I think for 10 or 12 years kind of get himself in this predicament where it’s probably very hard for him to play a round of golf…”
Smoltz, who’s partnered with Barkley in other celebrity golf tournaments, does admire the round mound of rebound’s determination. Despite numerous attempts to restructure his golf game, Barkley’s refused to give up the sport.
“I think Charles, with all the things he’s been through and tried and done, I never want to say it can’t happen” said Smoltz, referring to any optimism of progress regarding Barkley’s game. “But this man has more perseverance than any of us, or maybe me, would have, having to experience what he’s experienced.”
Ranking the best basketball-players-turned-golfers
Smoltz and Quinn both agreed Michael Jordan’s competitive nature gives him a slight edge over the rest of former and current NBA players in this year’s tournament.
“Michael’s playing good,” Smoltz said of the five-time league MVP. “I got a report, don’t know if that will (translate) next week, but he was playing pretty good last week. Shooting around par and under par every round.”
On the other hand, Rhoden thinks Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Vinny Del Negro might be the best golfer among his basketball peers. He also mentioned Boston Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and two-time NBA All-Star Jack Marin as other former basketball players with solid golf games.
Audio: Smoltz, Rhoden and Quinn on Barkley and basketball players
No flash? Listen here.
Odds to win (current and former NBA players)
- Michael Jordan: 40/1
– Ray Allen: 40/1
– Vinny Del Negro: 40/1
– Jimmer Fredette: 40/1
– Penny Hardaway: 50/1
– Deron Williams: 100/1
– Shane Battier: 200/1
– Jason Kidd: 200/1
– Charles Barkley: 500/1 (Tied last with comedian Kevin Nealon)