18 Holes With Jon Barry

y Jon Cooper

When the Hawks hold their annual Charity Golf Classic this Friday, at Bear's Best in Suwanee, Jon Barry will be the prohibitive favorite.

A regular at Celebrity Golf Association events, Barry doesn't have to go far to get good advice on his game, as his brother-in-law, Billy Andrade, plays on the PGA Tour.

Hawks.com caught up with Barry, who talked at length about his golf game, his greatest moment on the links, which Atlanta Braves pitcher he's traded pitches (and putts) with and the three players he'd most like to play a round with.

HAWKS.COM: Golf Digest named you the NBA's top golfer. Who is your toughest opponent?

Jon Barry: There aren't that many guys that play. More retired guys get into it. Obviously Michael [Jordan] plays a lot. Dan Majerle's a good player, Vinny Del Negro. As far as active guys I don't really know that many. I play with a couple of teammates but they're 15 handicappers.

HAWKS.COM: What's your handicap?

JB: I'm a zero, scratch.

HAWKS.COM: Which is the best golf city in the NBA?

JB: Atlanta's pretty good. For the amount of golf courses, Phoenix is a place where I've always wanted to play because Phoenix is loaded with golf courses. It's a great place. L.A.'s great. Anywhere on the West Coast is pretty good.

HAWKS.COM: What is your greatest golf shot?

JB: I guess it would have to be a hole-in-one. I've got two holes-in-one so I guess those would both be tied.

HAWKS.COM: When was your last one?

JB: A couple of summers ago at Sutton Down Creek, a course I'm a member of here, the 17th hole. That was probably my greatest shot.

HAWKS.COM: What is the strongest area of your game? What area would you most like to improve?

JB: My driving is my best. I hit the ball a long way. My wedge work would probably be where I'd like to get better -- 100 yards and in.

HAWKS.COM: What clubs do you use? What is your favorite club?

JB: I play with Hogans. Then I have a mixed bag of drivers, Cleveland driver, my 3-wood is a Mizuno, Taylor Made putter, Cleveland wedges. My favorite club is my two-iron. I love hitting my two-iron either off the tee or from 240, 250 yards.

HAWKS.COM: What are your thoughts heading into the Hawks Charity Golf Classic?

JB: The 29th at Bear's Best. I heard it's a pretty decent track, so I'm looking forward to going out there. Hopefully nobody finds out my handicap before I get there so I can make some cash (laughs).

HAWKS.COM: Are you the best golfer in your family?

JB: Yeah. I play the most. Two of my brothers play and they're very good for the amount of time they play. You can't play four times a year and expect to be good. But they play pretty well.

HAWKS.COM: Have you ever played with Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz?

JB: Yeah. He and I are both members of Hawks Ridge Golf Club out on 400 and we've played a few times. John's an excellent player and very, very serious about the game. He gets a little upset that I hit a little further than he does.

HAWKS.COM: How have you fared against him?

JB: We've only played a couple of times and they've been team matches. My team beat his team last time. So I've got the upper hand right now.

HAWKS.COM: Who would be in your "Dream Foursome"?

JB: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger, Ernie Els and myself.

For more information on the Hawks Charity Golf Classic call (404) 827-3865.

Jon Cooper is a freelance writer based in Atlanta