New Haney Project: Phelps treading water when it comes to golf; ‘Humbling’

It’ll be tough to top the weirdness of Charles Barkley playing golf, and don’t get me started on Rush Limbaugh. But when it comes to landing a big name for the latest edition of The Haney Project, it doesn’t get much better than Michael Phelps.

Phelps helped NBC pull in massive ratings for the Olympics. Now, many of those fans will tune in to see him go from swimming to swinging. The debut of the eight-part series begins tonight at 9 p.m. on The Golf Channel.

Judging from the swing pictured above (he almost wraps the shaft around his neck), Phelps is treading water when it comes to golf. His height, 6-4, also isn’t an advantage in golf. Haney noted, taller players “usually have a harder time finding their ball.” As in Phelps can be wild with a club in his hand.

Phelps and Haney did a teleconference to promote the show last week. Here are some of the highlights:

Phelps on taking up golf: It is probably one of the most humbling things I’ve ever done in my entire life; to be able to learn from the best and see some of the best courses, it was something that really interested me.

There is still something that is keeping me hungry, and I do have a goal in this sport, and I’m going to do everything that I can to hopefully achieve that.

Phelps on that goal: I have friends who play as scratch golfers, and for me it would be exciting to be able to get down to where I could compete with them.  So it’s a challenge for me, and it’s something that, like I said, keeps me ‑‑ sure, it’s not like I can go out and play a perfect round and hit all good shots, but that’s what really keeps me coming back to try to reach that point.

I’m sure it’s very challenging and who knows if it’s possible to hit every perfect shot in a round.  But it’s obviously something that I am learning and hopefully I can go out and enjoy the game even more than I already have.

Phelps on feeling pressure to perform because of the TV series: Hank knows what I want to accomplish and I told him that, and he’s going to do everything he can to get me there, and one day, I’m sure it will happen.  But I think in a sport like this, in any sport, it really depends on how much time I’m willing to putt into practicing to be able to get to that point.  I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I don’t like to fail.  I don’t like to fall short of a goal.

So I mean, I think that’s just where the pressure comes from on my standpoint, and I’ll say that being able to play in the Waste Management and also playing in The Ryder Cup Pro‑Am, I felt pressure there because I’ve never played golf in front of thousands of people.  I guess that was an interesting and new experience.

Haney on working with Phelps: Obviously Michael is an incredible athlete, and as most unbelievable athletes see, translating it into golf is a little bit harder than it looks.  But obviously he’s got a tremendous amount of potential.  Just his size and the length of his arms and his height, those give him such an advantage in the game, because so much of golf is distance, it’s power and how far you can hit the golf ball.

So when I looked at Michael, like most people would say, wow, he’s got a lot of potential for the game of golf.  But the thing about potential in golf, it’s really directly related to your clubhead speed and that means that anyone with a lot of potential when they are first starting is going to be wild with their shots and that just kind of goes with the territory.  But I knew that he was raw as a golfer, but had incredible potential, and I was just looking forward to helping him.

The thing that I think gives him a big advantage is that he knows the process, he’s patient with the process.  He always talks about just taking little baby steps and he’s had great coaching through his career, so he knows what it’s like to be coached.  So I felt like, you know what, this is going to be a dream student for me.

Phelps on why people should watch the show: It’s probably going to be one of the funniest shows you’ve ever scene of the Haney Project.  With the experiences that we have with the friends that I have on the show, I don’t want to give too much away, but I guarantee you, we will have you laughing each part of the show, every single episode you ever watch, you’re going to be ‑‑ you may be crying because you’re laughing so hard.




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