Haney may be taking on Mission Impossible

By David AllenMarch 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
Ladbrokes hasnt posted any odds yet on whether Hank Haney can fix Charles Barkleys swing, but if it did, chances are that Tiger Woods swing coach would be getting long odds. Very long odds. Take it from several instructors who have tried ' and failed ' to fix Barkleys notorious swing in the past, curing Barkley of his downswing yips will be like trying to get John Daly to run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.
Ill bet you $100 right now that hell never get that pause out of his backswing, said Scott Sackett, a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher who used to work with Barkley in Arizona shortly after he left the Phoenix Suns. Its not going to happen. His swing is a disaster in the making.
The Haney Project with Haney and Barkley premiered March 2 on Golf Channel. In the seven-episode series, which airs every Monday night at 9 p.m., Haney will attempt to get the former Round Mound of Rebound and 11-time NBA All-Star to stop pausing on his downswing, a move that has been described as everything from a hiccup to someone swatting at a snake. Barkleys swing has been mocked by many, including good friend Woods, whose impersonation can be found on youtube.com.
Sackett, a teaching professional at McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, tried to fix Barkleys swing by taking his attention off the ball. Hed kneel down to the side of the mat where Barkley was practicing, and place a ball down as soon as Barkley started his swing. That way, Barkley could focus on making a fluid swing without thinking about the ball, just like in a practice swing.
I thought honestly I could fix this, said Sackett. When the ball wasnt there, he made a great swing.
But Sackett recalled that as soon as the ball reappeared, Barkleys pause returned. It got worse when he was on the course. Sackett says now that Barkleys swing is 10 times worse than it was 11 years ago when he worked with him.
Its like the yips in putting, but with Charles he just happens to have it on his downswing, Sackett said. Hes very much ball-bound. It has nothing to do with mechanics, I think. Its a 100-percent mental block. Hed be better off seeing a sports psychologist to get his mind thinking differently.
Jon Tattersall, another Top 100 Teacher who has worked with Barkley, disagrees with Sacketts assessment, at least partially. Tattersall, who is the director of instruction at Terminus Club in Atlanta, conducted a 3D analysis of Barkleys swing in May 2008 and found that his problem was not limited to his brain.
Hes incredibly tight physically, more so than any other golfer weve ever tested, said Tattersall. And he gets so far ahead of the ball with his upper body on the downswing that he has no choice but to stop and back up so he can gets his arms and the club down to the ball. Not much good can happen from that position.
Tattersall would have Barkley hit balls with his left heel off the ground to prevent him from over-rotating his hips on the backswing, which, in turn, would keep him from coming over-the-top so much. But he believes that Barkley wont improve until he gains some flexibility in his hips and shoulders, and sees some positive results on the course.
It started with him as a physical issue, became a technique issue, and now its in his head, said Tattersall. Its a vicious cycle.
Tattersall remembers Barkley telling him that one teacher he saw told him that all good players have a pause at the top of their backswings. Barkley couldnt get the thought out of his head and joked to Tattersall that if he could remember who that instructor was today, hed swat him like that snake.
Barkley might want to refer to himself now as a Top 100 Student, for hes seen more instructors than Paris Hilton has seen shrinks. In addition to Haney, Sackett and Tattersall, Barkley has worked with other well-known teachers such as Robert Baker and Mike LaBauve. Tattersall, for one, thinks Haney may be in over his head.
I dont see much upside, really, said Tattersall. Its a tough one to take on. If you try and throw traditional fixes at him, it wont go very well. Theres a lot of negative psyche to overcome on the golf course, in addition to the physical and technical issues he has.
Related Links:
  • Golf Channel's 'The Haney Project'
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.