Why Charles Barkley once thought Phil Mickelson was a bartender

Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley during Friday's The Match: Champions for Change.

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Charles Barkley, late in Friday’s The Match: Champions for Change, asked his partner, Phil Mickelson, for some club advice. You bet he would. Mickelson’s a five-time major champ. Barkley’s a 25 handicap. 

“You want me to hit 56?” Barkley said. 

“Nah, uh, what do you like?” Mickelson said. 

“Why, you the pro?” Barkley joked. 

Some 30 years ago, Barkley thought Mickelson was a bartender. 

Barkley had just been traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Phoenix Suns. Mickelson had just turned pro. And Mickelson’s then-girlfriend-now-wife, Amy, was a Suns cheerleader who wanted the two to meet.   

“Amy used to dance for the Suns, and she was the greatest lady, got to know her really well,” Barkley said on a video Mickelson shared on social media. “So obviously when I got traded to Phoenix, things were really, really hectic, so I had a tight schedule. She says to me, ‘Will you play golf with my boyfriend, Phil?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, OK.’”

A month goes by. Nothing. 

“She says, ‘You going to play golf with my boyfriend, Phil?’” Barkley said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll play golf with your boyfriend, Phil.’”

Three months go by. Still nothing. 

“She says, ‘Are you ever going to play golf with my boyfriend, Phil?’” Barkleys said. “I’m like, ‘OK, Amy, I like you. What’s the deal? What’s his name?’ She said, ‘Phil Mickelson.’ 

“I said, ‘What? You going out with Phil Mickelson?’ I said, ‘Amy in the future, you start out with my boyfriend, Phil Mickelson. I thought you were going out with Phil the bartender. I would have canceled everything I was doing to go play golf with the great Phil Mickelson. But she started out with, ‘My boyfriend, Phil.’ How the hell am I supposed to know his last name is Mickelson.”

Barkley and Phil the golfer, of course, would play. On Friday, they teamed together to beat the team of Steph Curry and Peyton Manning 4 and 3. 

“It always comes down to our wives, and they’re always the ones bringing people together,” Mickelson said. “My wife, Amy, is special.”  

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.