March 2009

In tonight’s episode, Hank Haney was asked: How many golf balls does it take to break a habit?

To which he answered: “I don’t know. We are about to find out.”

The range ball is Charles Barkley's best friend.

The range ball is Charles Barkley's best friend. (Image: Ken Quixote/Flickr)

So is the problem which Haney faces–fixing Charles Barkley’s swing. It’s astonishing how different Charles’ swing is on the range…smooth, seamless, not bad at all.

But when he takes it to the course, like he did again tonight, all hell breaks loose. The hitch returns, he looses the flat angle, and he sprays horrid golf shots all over the course.

Tonight Haney commented that he’d like to have Barkley further along by now. It’s three months into their training together. Chuck’s doing well, but old habits die hard–and that hitch just doesn’t want to go away.

Haney incorporated an interesting drill to help Barkley keep his head still. While he swung the club, Chuck looked straight ahead at Hank standing across from him. This took away Chuck’s focus on the ball, and let him just swing the club. The hitch disappeared.

Hank explained that it’s the same type of technique they use for golfers who have the yips with the putter. They take the ball away, focus on the stroke, and then slowly incorporate the ball back into the picture.

Hank was doing the same thing with Barkley tonight, except this drill was used in the form of the full swing, not a putting stroke.

Good episode tonight. The question remains, though: Will Hank Haney be able to fix Charles Barkley’s swing? Chuck is getting there, but the new swing has yet to click. We’ll keep watching.


I saw pieces of the back nine yesterday, including Woods’ final putt to clinch his first win since last year’s U.S. Open.

I would’ve been glued to the TV had I not been playing in a charity tournament. We were eating dinner in the bar when Woods ran in the 16 footer. Simply amazing.

Did anyone really doubt that he would come back stronger than ever? That’s three tournaments and one win, with the Masters in two weeks.

Without a doubt, Tiger will be the favorite going into Augusta. Who wouldn’t love to see another Tiger-Phil showdown? As the Armchair Golfer commented, everything is right with the world.

mccabeSpring is in the air. It’s time to play golf again.

After a few months off the course, I returned to the links on Saturday. Surprisingly, I played well, firing a 70 with five birdies. Granted, the course I played at—McCabe Golf Course here in Nashville—is about 6,100 yards from the tips.

But I’ll take what I can get. Good putting is good putting, and I did make quite a few with the flat stick. But the game is still under repair, for sure.

Maybe the 70 shouldn’t be that surprising. I always play better when I don’t have expectations. Come August, I’ll probably be shooting 80 with 5 or 6 bogeys, simply because I expect to play well in the summer.

Doesn’t that always happen? As soon as we set expectations, crappiness sets in. The less likely I am to care, or the more laid back I am about a round, the better I usually play.

This weekend, I’m playing in an 18 hole charity tournament. Interesting format: six holes of scramble, six holes of best ball, and six holes of alternate shot. Hopefully, the putter will still be on fire Sunday. If not, at least I’ll have my partner to pick me up.

On a side note, I’m in the market for a hybrid. I’ll post about that soon.

Charles is all smiles on the range. But on the course it's a different story. (Image: Simplistic.Designs/Flickr)

Charles is all smiles on the range. But on the course it's a different story. (Image: Simplistic.Designs/Flickr)

Tonight’s episode was a case study in golf psychology.

Barkley has made enormous strides in practice. Hank Haney has worked with Charles to the point that Chuck was comfortable going on national television–on his NBA show on TNT–and hitting a few balls with his redesigned swing.  Swing looked great.  Hank then took Barkley to one of those golf simulators that I hate. Chuck was busting out over 300 yard drives.

But, then, Charles went out to the course. And, oh my, that was bad. Horrible. Embarassing. He reverted back to his old hitchy, stop and start swing, and hit some nasty looking shots. Hank was dissapointed. Chuck was disappointed.

Hank repeatedly says that Chuck’s problem is not in his head, but it’s  in his swing. But, really, it’s his head that is producing a different swing on the course. He’s comfortable on the range. But it’s the course that’s getting inside his head. And that’s the catalyst for these bad swings.

Here’s a guy who could stand in front of 15,000 people and sink free throws to win playoff games. But he can’t handle the pressure of playing with a few friends on the golf course. It’s crazy how the mind works, isn’t it?

In my own life, it’s amazing how I could hit a tee shot in front of 50 people and not even think about it. But you make me stand and talk in front of those 50 people and I’m like Ricky Bobby after he won his first race in Talledega Nights: What do I do with my hands? But I’m getting better at that.

So there’s tonights recap. Until next week…


(Image: J Wiltshire / Flickr)

The driving range mat.

It turns the bottom of my clubs  green, causes my wrist to ache, and makes my foot slip with every follow through. It produces completely unrealistic golf shots, different ball flights than I’m used to on grass. Its rubber tee is a joke. The driving range mat just generally sucks.

I went for years without hitting a ball off a driving range mat. But the course that I often frequent–it’s five minutes from my house–can’t seem to grow any grass on their range between the months of November and May. So the grass area is closed off, and the only options are the driving range mats.

I think I’ve decided I’d rather just play 9 than go and hit balls off mats. You can’t replicate a golf shot off grass–not with concrete covered by astroturf.

Tomorrow, I’m playing with some friends at McCabe here in Nashville. This will be my first full round in a few months. Thankfully, no driving range mats will be involved.






White legs.

Disclaimer: I’ve been out of the house today from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. I have a headache, and I need to go to bed. I have no idea if the following post will make sense, so work with me.

David Feherty loves Chuck's new swing.

David Feherty loves Chuck's new swing. (Image: jewishfam/Flickr)

Great episode of the Haney Project tonight.

If Hank Haney ever needed business–and as Tiger Woods’ coach, I’m guessing he doesn’t–then tonight’s episode would make him a rich man.

Charles Barkley’s golf swing looks worlds apart from where he was two weeks ago. Amazing improvement. Chuck was even getting a bit cocky: “I can go from basketcase to cocky in about 0 to 60,” he said.

Barkley took to the course and reverted to some of his old ways. But that was expected, according to Hank Haney. There’s still some head movement, he still makes that awkward hitch in his swing at times. But the swing is markedly better. His swing keeps getting flatter and flatter, which is exactly what Haney wants.

David Feherty, Tommy Armour III, and Brett Hull were a few of the celebrities who made cameos in this week’s episode. All were shocked by how far Charles has come.

On to episode four next week. Looks like Chuck’s co-hosts on the NBA show at TNT will be involved. Should be a good one.

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