"You Gotta Be Kidding!"©
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
Charles Barkley was always a legend in his own mind. His prowess as a basketball player was enormously exaggerated and he actually began to believe his own press clippings. Hanging around with Michael Jordan, he thought, would cause more talent to rub off and even allow him to suggest that he belonged in that revered company on the hardwoods of the NBA. It was a gossamer dream and comparison.
Charles Barkley, shown here during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, recently made controversial remarks about renovations made to the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament.|
Barkley had one move, maybe two, in his playing days. Both consisted of pushing and shoving until he was close enough to the basket to muscle his way toward the rim. His talent was hardly measured by grace or finesse. His ability with a basketball did not exactly embody dexterity or savoir-faire. He was a bull in the China shop without the shop.
Now he has taken that faculty, an aptitude for pushing to the front of the line, and opened the mouth that one network, for the time being, thinks is refreshing in its candor. It is not. He is an insulting boor. He grasps at straws for attention. He fancies himself a politician and speaks of running for office, even Governor. After all, if Jesse Ventura can be elected why not Charles Barkley? And, if he loses, he can always play the racism card. Heaven forbid that it should be lack of intelligence.
So, the mouth that roars has opened once again and, this time around, the target was The Masters, Augusta National and an unsought defense of Tiger Woods. After all, if Barkley can continue to spout fables about his golf game and the scores that never were, why not take on the entire sport and its most storied event?
What the round mound says is usually pointless and without merit but there is always some media person poised to put it in print. On the other hand, Sports Illustrated, not known for intelligent story selection over the years, particularly cover items, decided to publish Barkley's less than perceptible and luminous ramblings. Consequently, he was quoted as saying that the recent lengthening of Augusta National was "blatant racism," a thinly veiled attempt to prevent the world's greatest golfer from winning his third Masters next month.
Charles Barkley, meet Jim Brown. More on that another time.
"They're lengthening the course for one reason: to hurt Tiger," Barkley blurted and proceeded to tell SI, "Jack Nicklaus won the Masters six damn times, and he was hitting it past everybody else, and they never made a change."
Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura talks to a reporter with Charles Barkley during the 1999 Celebrity Golf Championships at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nevada.|
This commentary, of course, points to Barkley's less than knowledgeable background about anything save his bank account and how much he is ahead or behind at the tables of Las Vegas. Non-adulterated absurdity and asininity would be an apt description of the ponderous one's views of golf.
Make a listing of all the golf courses where major championships are held and it is likely that Augusta National is the one most redone, changed, redesigned, taken to task to match the abilities of the players and carefully crafted to be as challenging as possible for all who make the journey to the first tee.
Pick a year since it opened in 1932, regardless of who donned the green jacket, and Augusta National has had more work done on it than Cher. They move the greens or totally rebuild them, tees are given new views of the fairways, trees are brought in to be planted where there was a clear view of the green the year before and the rough is allowed to grow as though it were accommodating a herd coming through at any moment to feed. It is a course much like I-95 in and out of Philadelphia - always under construction.
Barkley's comments were given credence by their mere publication in SI. That was editorial malfeasance.
The course was taken from 6,985 to 7,270 yards and that was not done to stop Woods. He acknowledges that and has to be embarrassed over Barkley's accusations. "The changes are not for me," he said recently during a pre-Masters conference call with writers. "They're for the kids that are coming up in the future.
"There are a lot of kids out there now in college golf and high school golf that hit the ball farther than I do. They are getting bigger and stronger, and the new technology is helping out. It's only to enhance the future. So I guess they went ahead and took a step to prevent players in the future from shooting tournament low scores."
The rotund one, whose own game is not in danger of improving at any time in the near future, argued that Woods is too nice, too nonconfrontational, too concerned about his image to speak out. Enter the mouth.
First of all, lengthening the course is just what Woods would like. The longer, the better. Most other players are already complaining that Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love 3rd and only a few others with rockets in their bags can conquer the course. Nick Price said that you have to hit it 300+ to win at Augusta. The short hitters like Jack Nicklaus and Billy Casper are out of the running?on their best days with youth reclaimed.
By the way, Charles [Barkley], it was Mickelson last year that hit a ball on the 445-yard
par-4 11th, witnessed by Hootie Johnson, Augusta National's Chairman, and consulting architect Tom Fazio, that only required an easy pitch to the green on his second shot?just 94 yards. The renovation was suddenly underway against Woods and every other player with high-tech equipment and stronger bodies that are sending lasers into the stratosphere.
Augusta might be the place where old, rich, white men disdained a Tiger Woods playing on their course years ago but even they are rooting for him this time around, however reluctantly. He is the best, draws the crowds and ratings, and is a pretty nice guy these days. Above all, he does not need a mental midget like Charles Barkley adding more stupid commentary to that which we are already being fed during basketball games and at other inopportune times by anyone close to him with a microphone, pen and pad.
Is anyone with an IQ above 15 lending credence to Barkley's remarks by agreeing with them? You gotta be kidding!