Fixing Barkley

By Rex HoggardMarch 1, 2009, 5:00 pm
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. ' Hank Haney has been here before. Hes had students, more to the point a student, who has embraced his philosophy of the golf swing. From there, Haney has learned by way of his 50,000 or so golf lessons hes given in is career, that its only a matter of time and reps before concept becomes clarity of thought.
At ease with this knowledge, Haney ponders the question: Can he fix Charles Barkleys golf swing ' the premise behind the new Golf Channel series The Haney Project Charles Barkley which premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET.
Charles Barkley
Is Hank Haney facing Mission: Impossible with Charles Barkley? (Getty Images)
Its just a process. I know his swing can be fixed and I know Charles, and he can be good, Haney says. I cant tell you how long its going to take. Its the same thing with Tiger (Woods). He was on the right path and everyone was asking why hes doing this or doing that? It just takes time.
Of course, Woods ' that other guy with the 14 major championships and 65 PGA Tour titles ' had a pretty grasp of the golf swing before teaming with Haney, whereas Barkleys swing is best described as a bevy of moving parts. An upright, over-the-top, out-of-balance action that is considered by some the games worst.
Everybody sees the hitch in Charles golf swing. I see a terrible swing that has a hitch, Haney says. I dont want him to stop hitching but still shoot 100. Thats not going to do much. I want him to play the game like I know he can play. When I see him on the range I see a good player.
If Haneys assessment seems a bit on the rosy side of optimistic, hes earned some leeway. Hes also got perhaps the most dedicated pupil this side of Isleworth Country Club. The duo has gathered for five two-day meetings to shoot the seven episodes of The Haney Project. Haney calls the meetings sessions, but they have more of a boot camp feel.
The seeds of The Haney Project were born from a chance encounter at Woods 2004 wedding in Barbados. Barkleys game had gotten so bad he limited his golf to two celebrity events a year, and Haney thought he could help.
Tiger said to me, You know you have to work with Hank. I was like, cool. I thought that was going be like an hour, Barkley says. We go out there, five hours later my back was hurting. I needed traction for like a week.
But an undersized power forward ' hes listed at 6-foot-6 ' doesnt become one of just four players in NBA history to compile 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists without a healthy work ethic and an unwavering determination. On a warm December afternoon at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., its what drives the 11-time NBA All-Star to pound the turf like he used to pound the offensive glass.
The session begins at 8 a.m., features nine intense holes under Haneys watchful eye followed by a short lunch and an even longer session on the practice range with Barkley rifling through rows of 125 golf balls at a time.
The Project is neither sport nor science and perhaps best dubbed Infotainment , complete with the ultimate odd couple. Haney, the taskmaster, pushing Barkley, whose random thoughts, more so than a structured reason, seem to dictate his actions.
During the afternoon session, Barkley pauses midway through a line of range balls, towels the sweat from his forehead before noticing a sign posted on a nearby water cooler. Eating ice from water cooler may be dangerous, the sign reads.
People been eating ice for years, Barkley reasons. How come that ice can kill ya?
Haney doesnt answer, choosing not to play along before the session continues into the Arizona dusk.
Both Haney and Barkley concede improvement has been slow coming, but Haney remains optimistic, citing Barkleys athleticism and a golf IQ that is far beyond what his handicap may suggest.
Truth is, the one-time Round Mound of Rebound was once a decent player, playing nearly every day and regularly posting rounds between 78 and 84, Barkley says.
Where things went south is something of a mystery.
I dont know what happened, says Barkley, a legitimate 11 handicap before a combination of over-analysis and self doubt made his swing a YouTube staple. I wanted to get better and a guy gave me some advice to pause for a split second on my backswing. The rest is history.
From that tip was born one of the worst hitches in the history of the ancient game. Whether Barkleys action can be remade into something resembling a golf swing remains the ultimate in golf reality. Whats not lost in the ambiguity of swing fundamentals and flaws is the entertainment value of pairing Barkley with one of the games most respected swing coaches on the golf course, on the practice range and beyond.
If hes not better I get voted off the island, Haney smiles. It is not possible for anyone to work harder than Charles. Hes a good a student as youll ever ask for.
Related Links:
  • Golf Channel's 'The Haney Project'
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    Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

    Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

    The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

    In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

    "That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

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    "I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

    Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

    But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

    "Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

    "He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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    Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

    The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

    Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

    Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

    "I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

    Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

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    The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

    Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

    Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

    "I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

    "Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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    Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

    On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

    Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

    What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

    Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

    Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

    Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

    Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

    His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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    McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

    They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

    England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

    Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

    Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.