Many who tune into The Match 3 may have a singular reason for doing so: to see Charles Barkley swing a golf club.
It’s not a mystery, at least not exactly. Most sports fans have seen the highlights (lowlights?) at some point. Barkley rears back, and at some point, there’s usually a hitch or a full-on stop in the swing path. Sometimes there’s a second one before Barkley arrives back at the ball. He might whiff or top one or whack more ground than ball. But it’s still a remarkable sight to see an NBA Hall of Famer take such hacks (although Barkley’s making his own case that he’s made swing improvements of late).
Barkley’s golf game will be on full display in The Match 3, which features Phil Mickelson as Barkley’s teammate against Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning. Proceeds raised during the event will go toward supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While Stone Canyon Golf Club in Arizona won’t be without star power and a good cause, most of the attention will surely be on Barkley each time he approaches his golf ball.
At least there’ll be one thing helping Barkley at Stone Canyon, according to Mickelson: closer tees.
“At Stone Canyon, we actually have Chuck tees,” Mickelson said to Golfweek. “They’re a little bit further up.”
What’s wrong with Charles Barkley’s golf swing?
Charles Barkley didn’t always swing a golf club like he does now. There are multiple accounts of Barkley’s swing during his NBA playing days being smooth and powerful, the type you’d expect from a world-class athlete. One Arizona course’s director of golf recently told Golf.com that in those days, Barkley “was a solid all-around player.”
Barkley spoke on GOLF’s Subpar podcast earlier this year and broke down when things started to go south. When he moved to Phoenix, he saw a lot of good golfers around him and wanted to improve, so he began taking lessons with all sorts of coaches. That got Barkley deeper inside his head than maybe he should’ve been.
Former NFL wide receiver Roy Green told GOLF that one instructor had Barkley introduce a slight pause at the top of his back-swing, and for a few rounds, Barkley was crushing it. Then the pause became longer, and “it was all downhill from there,” Green said.
People call the performance-anxiety Barkley gets on the course many things, most commonly “the yips.” Barkley’s issues aren’t as pronounced on the driving range, but when he steps onto the course to play, they’re out in full force.
A few swing experts told GOLF recently that Barkley’s swing is looking more effortless and less hitchy of late. But Barkley’s yips have been most noticeable in the past when eyes were on him in big celebrity tournaments. While there won’t be fans at The Match 3, there’ll be plenty of cameras.
Only on the first tee will fans get a sense for how bad (or good) Barkley’s swing is these days, but the worst part of the yips is that they never quite go away. If Barkley’s mind goes to the wrong place in the middle of the round, the hitch(es) could be back.
Charles Barkley golf swing video
In case you read through this whole article and have never seen Barkley swing, here’s The Match trying to get you ready for the event.
Hopefully attempting to replicate Barkley’s swing doesn’t give the yips to any of the other competitors.