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.