Last summer, people around the world were in lockdowns and unable to enjoy most of their favorite pastimes. The fan-less golf tournaments were a huge disappointment for the hundreds of thousands of people hoping to get back to what they loved. Luckily, we were all able to still watch the action on tv. Not the same, I know, but golf on tv was better than no golf at all.
At the 2020 American Century Championship, Charles Barkley joked about how he felt a little less pressure heading into the event.
“Well, I won’t hit anybody. So that’s always a welcome relief.”
Tiger Woods even has his famous impression, not to mention the countless memes and videos that grace the internet.
For all the flack he’s received over the years, Barkley can only help but laugh at himself sometimes. And we can’t help but love him for it. He has never shied away from pulling a few jokes at his own expense and we can’t help but love the hilarious commentary he provides.
If there is one thing that can be said for sure, even though Barkley hasn’t given up, his game has left something to be desired.
“To say I’ve been ‘struggling’ on the golf course is the biggest freakin’ understatement in the history of civilization,” he admitted.
“Listen, it hasn’t been fun for me for 25 years to play golf,” he went on to say. “I only play in Lake Tahoe because I love coming there. And I played in a couple of my friends’ celebrity golf tournaments to raise funds for charity. It wasn’t like I was having fun on the golf course; I’m not going to tell you that lie.”
Now Barkley hasn’t always been this type of golfer and he was even somewhat of a natural when he first decided to take up the sport. He was introduced to golf during his early years with the Philadelphia 76ers after one of his buddies on the team invited him out for a day on the course.
“Man, I got on that range. And I actually hit that damn ball.” Barkley recalls fondly.
After putting in a lot of work toward his newfound hobby, he eventually managed to consistently break 85 and occasionally scored even lower when he was on his game.
“And then I did the stupidest thing ever,” Barkley says. “I started taking lessons. I said, ‘I want to get better.’ I should have been happy shooting that score, because I had fun, but I wanted to get better. So I started taking lessons from every single person in the world. And next thing I know I got 10 voices in my head standing over a golf ball, and I went from breaking 80 to couldn’t break 100.”
He still enjoyed spending the day with his buddies and forgetting about the pressures of being a celebrity for a few hours. There was something so peaceful about being on the course. But while Barkley tried to focus on the things he still loved about the game, he couldn’t help but feel defeated.
Fast forward one year and Charles Barkley is looking like a whole new golfer. His consistency & determination to improve have been effective strategies so far. He showed off some of his progress when he played alongside Phil Mickelson in The Match last fall where they defeated Steph Curry and Peyton Manning. He managed to land the fairways and even held his own on the green during the event.
So what changed?
Barkley began working with Stan Utley, who when from playing on the Tour to providing instruction at Grayhawk Learning Center in Arizona. Utley has helped Barkley unravel a variety of golf advice he has been given over the years which they believe was the first step in improving his game.
At the American Century Championship on Thursday, Barkley used his range warm up to fine tune his swing. It only took a few shots to find his groove and it wasn’t long before people began lining up to catch a preview.
Guys I am on the range and Charles Barkley is hitting MISSILES pic.twitter.com/nOXz4oynat
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) July 8, 2021
Naturally, Barkley seemed pleased with his progress and was in a genuinely good mood. His happiness was noticed by fans who couldn’t help but enjoy the moment with him. All of his hard work has been paying off and we can’t wait to see how much farther he comes at the next event.