Charles Barkley talks about the American Century Championship like a typical golfer gushes about their annual golf trip that gives them a few days away from work and family obligations. "It's the one thing we look forward to every year," Barkley said in a Tuesday conference call hosted by the celebrity event now in its 28th year. And playing a golf tournament in beautiful Lake Tahoe sounds pretty awesome, so it makes total sense that Barkley will tee it up in front of fans for a 23rd time in July.
Until you remember just how bad Barkley is at golf.
In two of the past three years, the NBA Hall of Famer has failed to record a single par. In FIFTY-FOUR holes. Seriously, how is this fun?
"I get to play with great players and great athletes so that makes it special, and I've developed some great relationships, like with Kevin Nealon," Barkley said. "I don’t really have any goals, man. I'd love to be better, but if I get out there and smoke a couple cigars, I'm good. . . .It’s not like it’s the worst thing in the world, sucking at golf."
Good point, Chuck. No, it's not the worst thing in the world. But it still has to be extremely frustrating, especially because Barkley wasn't always so bad with golf clubs in his hand. Tournament records show Barkley routinely shot in the 80s in his first few years competing in the event, including an 82 in the second round in 1995. And as late as 2003, he was still shooting in the 90s at the event. So. . . what happened?
"Everybody knows I suck at golf now because I’ve got this nervous twitch," Barkley said. "I ain’t always been a bum on the golf course. I’m a bum now, but I used to break 80 all the time."
That's a bummer. At least, it's a nervous twitch that the popular TNT basketball analyst says doesn't affect other parts of his life. In fact, he's pretty sure the problem developed in large part due to his efforts to get better at golf.
"I started taking all these lessons from all these people and these wires crossed in my brain," Barkley said. "I just can’t get out of my own way."
Some of those lessons included Barkley appearing on Golf Channel's The Haney Project in 2009. This is a man who has tried everything to get better at golf. And we mean everything:
Poor guy. Barkley says he still watches as much Golf Channel as anyone, and he's "got more [golf swing] contraptions at my house than any person in the history of civilization."
He's also got one important piece of advice for fellow struggling golfers:
"Don’t try getting hypnotized," he said. "I got a good nap but I woke up with the same shitty golf swing."