Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Feel Better About My Golf Game Now...

...that I've seen how bad Charles Barkley's swing is.

The Golf Channel aired its new reality show, The Haney Project, last night. Hank Haney is considered to be the one of the best professional teachers of the golf game right now, probably due in no small part to the fact that his number one student is a fella by the name of Eldrich Woods. Tiger will one day set a new record for number of Majors won; I have no doubt he will surpass Nicklaus's mark of 18, so long as he stays healthy and maintains his passion for the game.

Anyway, Hank has taken on Charles Barkley, of NBA fame, as his latest Padawan. For those of you that don't know, Barkley is quite a character, in both good and bad ways. During his pro-basketball career, he was caught at least once spitting on sideline hecklers. One of his more famous commercials was when he stared into the camera and said, quite seriously, "I am not a role model."

Maybe he's not a role model--okay, he's definitely not--but that doesn't mean the guy isn't fun to watch. He is notorious for having an atrocious golf swing. It has more planes in it than Philly International, and he has a habit of stopping the club once, twice, sometimes three times on the downswing before he strikes the golf ball.

I remember reading a story awhile back that Tiger called him the day after a pro-am finished. Tiger joked that he was about to congratulate Sir Charles on winning the tournament, but he realized he was holding the newspaper upside-down while looking at the scores. See, even Tiger Woods has a sense of humor.

I don't usually care for celebreality television shows, but I think I'm going to tune in to this one. Barkley doesn't hold anything back, so this show has a good chance of being truly "reality" TV. And even though I've only played a handful of times in the last two years, I am still fanatical about the game of golf.

Fellow Philadelphians take note too! The guy doing the voiceover work for The Haney Project is none other than Preston Elliott, of the Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR.

21 comments:

Phil Stiefel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Stiefel said...

I know I will never be the worst golfer as long as sir charles is still swinging the clubs

Brian O'Rourke said...

Philly,

Did you watch the episode at all last night? Apparently there are a lot of videos streaming on youtube of Sir Charles's swing. I'd post a link to one if I could, but I'm at work and can't get on to youtube. (sometimes getting on here is tough)

Phil Stiefel said...

Sorry didnt get to it but saw previews for it and I am guessing it will replay sometime on the channel.... I have seen him swing many times on tv at celebrity tournies and it is horrendous. Here is a link to a youtube showing of the swing. WOW is all I can say. I have never posted a link so I dont know if it will work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s50K65PNeBU

Brian O'Rourke said...

Yeah, wow is right. It's like he gets swingus-interruptus.

Brian O'Rourke said...

You don't even have to be a golfer to appreciate how bad it is.

adrian mckinty said...

Anyone know a simple way of correcting a slice? I've watched a lot of those YouTube advice videos and none of them see to help.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian -

Not sure if you're serious, but the best I can offer is this without actually seeing your swing:

After you reach the top of your backswing, initiate the downswing by dropping your hands before you do anything else. In other words, start moving the hands down but keep those shoulders turned. Then move through the swing.

If that doesn't work, you can take a page out of Paddy Harrington's book and hit range balls for six hours a day till you get it right.

Phil Stiefel said...

I got a piece of advice from a golf pro on a ship I worked on and that advice has helped me take 5-7 strokes off my score.... stop trying to fix your swing if it is comfortable and you are consistent with it.... adjust the course to your swing....now if i can only learn to put.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Phil,

That's very good advice as well.

b

seanag said...

Golf, oh yes.

With my wretched dial up connection I don't usually have the heart to try YouTube, but thinking about it, I do have a few reflections.

First, one of my earliest memories was seeing my mother's golf clubs in some closet of ours. I don't actually remember her ever playing, which is pity.

My father, on the other hand had no time for golfers. He delighted in quoting Mark Twain: "Golf is a long walk, ruined." And he hated the clothes. Belatedly, I realize that this was a thinly veiled class issue.

My own fleeting experience of golf was with the rec department in Denver one summer. I actually have no idea how I was allowed to enroll, given the above mentioned marital conflict. Still, I did. But being a leftie, my main memory of it was being all aligned one way, then having the golf instructor turn me around, trying to match me up with all the right-handed people, ie, everyone else, only to realize his error and turn me around again. Let's just say that it wasn't productive.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

Up until recently, i.e. last 20 years or so, I heard it was fairly difficult for a leftie to find a good set of golf clubs, unless said leftie was a pro.

One fella I used to play with bemoaned this a lot. In fact, it might have been as recent as 2000 or 2001 that I heard him lament the pitiful state of left-handed golf clubs. It's gotten a lot better since then, so I'm told.

And hey, the clothes are a lot cooler nowadays...for the most part. There will always be the Ian Poulters and Aaron Baddeleys of this world.

seanag said...

Well, in my own case, it wasn't the clubs--it was the golfer. I have to say that I tried a lot of sports when I was a kid, which is odd because I am a little averse to the competition thing. But what really put me off them was that I would reach a certain plateau and after that, never improve. And it wasn't a particulary high plateau either. I suppose golf seemed particularly likely to have that result.

I should say that I believe my mother played a decent round of golf before she married and had kids. It seems odd that she never took it up again, especially when she kept the clubs--in fact carted them halfway across the country and back in our various moves. I will have to ask her about that.

adrian mckinty said...

my swing is beautiful but there's so much spin on the ball it slices horribly, ok this is fair enough on a dog leg but on every other course a disaster.

Brian am I understanding you right, move your hands down your club!! during your backswing?

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian,

Sorry, I didn't make that clear. This is tough to describe without showing you.

The first move on your downswing should be with your hands if you want to correct a slice. In other words, perform your backswing, keep your left shoulder tucked under the chin, start the downswing with your hands, then turn everything else through the ball.

A lot of pros refer to this move as dropping the club into the "slot."

Without seeing your swing, I'm only guessing, but most slices are caused by someone initiating the downswing with the shoulders, opening them up before they do anything else, which in turn causes the club to travel on a severe outside to inside path.

What is your initial ball flight like? Does the ball start left of the target line and cut severely to the right? Or, does the ball start at the target line before cutting severely to the right?

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

I understand your frustrations. Before I was married, I put a lot of time into golf, and I mean A LOT, and I reached a plateau pretty quickly and never really got any better. It's weird how golf is so much fun and so frustrating all at the same time.

It's really interesting that your mom was a big golfer but your dad wasn't. I lucked out--my wife doens't play but she actually enjoys watching the sport, which is a rarity.

seanag said...

Yes, well, my mom also went to polo games around Los Angeles where she often met famous movie stars, and I expect golf was just sort of expected of her set. My dad, on the other hand was a farm boy from Illinois, and I doubt very much whether he ever saw a golf club till he was in college.

In a traditional novel, she would be said to have married down. Except she didn't really. And we never felt it that way.

In all this sports talk, I'm realizing that it isn't really the plateau that bothers me. I've always been pretty content to just bat a ball around or whatever the game is. It's when I'm with people who actually expect me to improve that it all becomes a problem.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

You raise a good point. I'll never know how my Mom and Dad manage to get through a round of golf without killing each other. Mom wants to improve, but she's also perfectly happy to go out there and just bat it around. Dad, on the other hand, is more like one of those people you refer to--he expects her to constantly try to improve and better her game.

Nothing wrong with either approach, but it becomes problematic when people with different mindsets tee it up together, as you alluded to.

On a somewhat related note, I want McKinty to show me the ropes for rugby.

adrian mckinty said...

Brian

I'll give that a go.

It flies straight and true until about the 75 yard mark then begins its rightward orientation - just like most of the students I was in law school with.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian-

Funny, I'd describe my law school experience the same way, only with a decidedly left orientation.

But based on what you're saying, it might not be your shoulders, so take everything I've just told you with a grain of salt. Doesn't Greg Normal live near you?

B

adrian mckinty said...

Brian

Rugby union is breathtakingly simple. Just like American football but 1) you cant hit anyone off the ball 2) zero forward passes (only laterals and back) 3) a scrum instead of a scrimmage. Thats about it.