Monday, February 25, 2013

The Haney Project: Charles Barkley

The Haney Project is a show about golf. Many years ago, the sport as we know it was born on the grassy hills of Scotland.  Since then, the perplexing sport has infuriated, inspired, challenged and brought glory to a variety of individuals around the globe. Using the innate drama of golf, The Haney Project has, for five seasons, told the story of just how many human elements must be conquered in order for one to be considered a good golfer.

The first season of The Haney Project kicked off with what some might say was the true inspiration for the series. No golf swing is so infamous as the Charles Barkley hitch. The retired NBA athlete’s golf game had deteriorated into disjointed movements, and his swing garnered thousand of hits on YouTube. To everyone’s relief and entertainment, we were able to marry Barkley with one of the most famed golf coaches, best known for leading Tiger Woods to many victories, Hank Haney. Even Tiger knew how terrible Barkley’s swing was. In fact, he did a very close imitation of it.

Haney looked at Barkley as a type of extreme challenge. He claimed that issues like Barkley’s are what motivate him to coach golf. As Haney said at the opening of the season, “You always love the great challenge when you are a teacher.” Undoubtedly, Hank Haney had found his great challenge.

All Barkley wanted was to go out, play golf, and have fun. Golf had been anything but fun for him during the past 10 to 15 years. His stress level accelerated even in his drive to the golf course because of his anxiety about his game. Haney knows how critical the mental aspect of the golf game is, but in this case, he could not ignore the physical need to fix Barkley’s swing. Haney knew he could help fix it with dedication, hard work, and a few good hits that just feel right. Throughout the season, Haney employed various tactics to correct Barkley’s swing. The two key elements Haney used to reinforce the changes were repetition and muscle memory. He used swing analysis in order to show Barkley the proper plane of the golf club. He utilized tees placed in different positions for proper swing technique. Haney even parked a golf cart for Barkley to hit to ensure he was in the correct plane.

If anything, this season was an emotional roller coaster for both Barkley and Haney. By the end of the season, Haney thought they would be further along with correcting his swing, but Barkley continued to crack under pressure. Even though he was hitting a thousand balls a day, he still hadn’t found his sweet spot. Many other human beings would have given up just after two hundred balls a day, but “God Bless his Mother” Barkley kept going. Everyone was pulling for him.

In the final two episodes, we saw that Barkley had regained his love of the game.  In the final round of the show, with support from friends and fans he was able to remember why golf is a great sport. He was enjoying the moment as well as all the trash talking. His passion for the sport had returned, and the show had even inspired a viewer to come back to the game. This show had become about more than just fixing the worst swing in golf; it also demonstrated that dedication and hard work pay off. It showed that practicing technique is all part of the enjoyment of the game. Golf is a lot like life. It’s a journey and all the dirty parts of it make it great.

Like any great coach, Haney expected more at the end of their time together. He demands a lot of his students. However, because of Haney’s encouragement and the progress they made together, Barkley vowed to return to the course and keep working on his game.

Even after five seasons, people still mention the Barkley golf swing. They still talk about how Haney was able to get a smooth swing from Barkley. To date it may be the most apparent transformation to the non-golfer’s eye. However, Haney continued to work miracles in every season of The Haney Project. Golf is far from an easy game, and there are many celebrities that need lots of help! 

No comments: