Charles Barkley at the American Century Championship in 2017. Charles Barkley tries to tee off with one hand on the 17th hole during the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on July 13, 2017. (Tom R. Smedes, via USA Today Sports.)

For someone whose main association with golf is “being famously bad at it,” NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley has sure sparked a lot of discussion about his golf game over the years. And he’s contributed to that, both with regularly playing in the annual celebrity American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe (often finishing near the bottom, but he’s made progress in the past few years), with competing in the third incarnation of Warner Bros. Discovery’s The Match franchise (where he and Phil Mickelson took down Steph Curry and Peyton Manning) in 2020, with serving as an analyst for other editions of The Match, and with flirting with LIV Golf commentary work last summer (although he eventually turned that controversial series down). But the latest spirited discussion around Barkley’s golf game, ahead of Thursday’s official start for this year’s ACC, is if he’ll finish in the top 70. And, as per an ACC release, many of those participating have opinions, including Curry, New York Jets’ QB Aaron Rodgers, former NBA player Ray Allen, and former NBA player and coach Vinny Del Negro:

Barkley is 5,000-1 to win the tournament, but the odds of him finishing in the top 70 keep improving. Odds have improved from +310 to +250 and there are a number of stars on both sides of the bet here in Nevada.

New York’s newest signal-caller is on his side. “Yes, he’s beating (Brian) Baumgartner,” said Rodgers, who is 45-1 to win the tournament. “He’ll be top 70. Brian will be 71; he’ll be 70.”

Former tournament champ Vinny Del Negro, 14-1 to win, is also a believer adding, “His game has improved. I’ve seen his swing. He takes it serious. He wants to play better and he’s doing better, playing better. I think Charles will do well.”

Golden State’s sharp-shooter Curry isn’t a believer though. “No chance,” said Curry, a 12-1 shot to win. “I’m just spiteful because they beat me, him and Phil (Mickelson), beat me in The Match a long time ago and I haven’t been able to get my revenge, so I’m a hater. I don’t think he’s going to get it.”

200-1 longshot to win the tournament and former NBA sniper Ray Allen agrees with Curry, “Outside of the top 70. He’s changed his swing but I think he still gets a little nervous when he’s here. He’s been doing this forever. I’d like him to surprise me.”

A key question here may be about Sir Charles’ ability to play without performance enhancers (or detractors), though. While in a commentary role on the fifth edition of The Match in 2021, Barkley famously talked about how he needed alcohol when playing golf:

We’ll see how Barkley fares in this tournament. But it’s certainly funny not only to have betting lines on his golf performance but to also have many athletes past and present weighing in with their takes. Maybe turnabout is fair play there, with some current and former athletes often objecting to Barkley’s takes on them.

Televised coverage of the American Century Championship will air Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on NBC, Golf Channel, and Peacock. NBC, which has owned the event since its 1990 inception (as replacement programming during an MLB lockout!), announced a six-year extension with title sponsor American Century Investments this week, with that extension running through 2029.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.