Bryson DeChambeau Continues to Divide Opinion
Golfshake's Derek Clements responds to comments left by readers to his recent article: The Many Questions Raised by Bryson DeChambeau
MY VIEWS on Bryson DeChambeau certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest, which was exactly what I expected. While some of you agreed that what he is doing is not good for golf, the overwhelming majority of you love watching him play. And I totally get that. He is a phenomenon.
I am reminded of the impact that Tiger Woods made when he burst upon the scene way back in 1996. He was the first gym bunny and he transformed the way the game was played. Colin Montgomerie once said that when Woods’ name appeared at the top of the leaderboard, everybody effectively gave up. That has not happened with DeChambeau yet - he has only won six times to date and his record in the majors is pitiful.
It is also worth noting that although Woods hit the ball a long way in his prime, he was never the biggest hitter. His most memorable shots over the years have been incredible recoveries, holed chips from unlikely places and an uncanny ability to hole the putts that really matter. He was almost able to will the ball into the hole.
DeChambeau says that he changed his body entirely because he wants to win majors. It remains to be seen how he will cope with Augusta and the layouts used for the other three majors. Whether his approach will succeed at, say, a windswept Carnoustie is open to debate. And while he continues to struggle with wedges in his hand he is highly unlikely ever to be a serious contender at Augusta, which calls for absolute precision with approach shots.
I want to say here and now that I am in awe of what DeChambeau has done. It requires a huge amount of hard work and dedication to put on all that muscle and find swing speeds we have never seen before on the PGA Tour. But I stand by my view that the powers-that-be simply cannot stand by and do nothing when players start to routinely smash the ball 350 yards from the tee. It takes most bunkers out of play completely.
And I believe that if nothing is going to be done to rein in those distances then the time has most definitely come to grow the rough properly. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic we saw DeChambeau muscle an eight iron 230 yards - from the rough! If the rough was more punishing he wouldn’t have been able to do that. There simply has to be a premium put on accuracy from the tee.
Luke Donald carved out a brilliant career through finding fairways, hitting greens and making the most of a wondrous putting stroke. Jordan Spieth is woeful from the tee but has nevertheless won three majors because of a glorious short game. Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and many more prove conclusively that there is another way.
So here are just a few of your views:
"I don't think it's fair to criticise a man who has found a way to win golf tournaments without being a "natural". What would you have him do? Decide that as he isn't as naturally good as McIlroy he shouldn't bother? Boycott wasn't as natural a batsman as Gower, and Djokovic isn't as natural a player as Federer, but they found a way to equal or even surpass more gifted players, and good luck to them. His future health is his own choice, and if the powers that be reign in the golf ball he'll still hit it further than the rest - power has always been an advantage and always will be. Perhaps if McIlroy had the same mental strength as a Woods or a Koepka he would have won a lot more majors than he has, but perhaps that is not "natural" for him. Never blame someone who has made the most of what ability they have. The wider question of what it does for the game is not one that should be loaded on the shoulders of one man making a living as best he can.”
Gower or Boycott? I know who I would rather watch. And I am not sure it is accurate to say that Djokovic isn’t as natural a player as Federer - he’s just a different sort of tennis player.
"It is very rare that I feel compelled to respond to a comment but maybe this is why you wrote the way you did. Your comments show a complete lack of intelligence....to the point of total ignorance for what Bryson has achieved. I am sure you are one who had hoped his form had faltered or will in the near future so that you can take great delight in criticizing him. What Bryson has achieved is immense. He has pushed the envelope and clearly been successful...how successful only time will tell.
"Wait until the crowds are let back into the arena and see them flock to Bryson as they do for Tiger....this will surely happen. I for one did not look out for Bryson but I am now fascinated by what he has achieved at such a young age. He has done this with total self-belief I do not trivialise just how much effort he has put himself through in the gym preparing his physique to cope with the demands he places on his body. Bryson is not preaching for others to follow suit...your comments are not worthy of any respectable commentator...shame on you....and as for what he is capable of doing once he has hit those amazing drives...check the stats before you make your foolish comments.”
I did not criticise DeChambeau, although I did take exception with his run-in with a cameraman who was just doing his job. If Bryson throws a hissy fit then of course it is going to be filmed. He may think he is bigger than the game - he may be bigger than most of his fellow competitors. But he is NOT bigger than golf. And the piece I wrote was simply my opinion. And in my opinion, golfers who hit the ball such vast distances are not good for the game. Make no mistake - I am in awe of what this young man has done and I certainly don’t trivialise his achievements. As for my lack of intelligence, well I will leave you to be the judge of that, but it seems a bit harsh. Everybody is entitled to their opinion - even me!
"He is playing the game the way he can to achieve what he can and good luck to him. I agree his longevity in the sport may be short lived, as his body will simply not survive the constant pounding. I'm sure he knows that, but what a ride it will be. If he is to make an impact in the sport I hope he does it quickly, before the killjoys start radically changing the equipment and spoiling it for us all. Comparing Bryson to Boycott is just wrong. Boycott NEVER took risks. I can't think of one player who when standing on the 18th tee with a two-shot lead would take a driver and crush it 367 yards to a narrowing fairway! HOW IS THAT BORING?”
I didn’t say that DeChambeau was boring. And I can think of many players who would have reached for a driver while standing on the 18th tee with a two-shot lead.
"I admire his dedication but dislike his approach. Golf is not a science and I agree with much of the article but ultimately professional golf is about entertainment. If the public like the way that Bryson plays, there will be more tournaments that suit his game. He may well make a lot of money. But I would only pay to see him play at a windy Carnoustie or Troon just to see him brought down by what is in reality a very unscientific game.”
It will certainly be interesting to see how he copes on a windy links course.
"He has gone too far. Making a living out of a sport has been corrupted by turning a sport into a business. It's a typical American thing, everything that can be IS turned into a business. Watching DeChambeau play is like watching a gorilla pull down trees, pointless and boring. The regulator are ultimately to blame for being cowardly in the face of the threat of commercial lawsuits from the ball and driver manufacturers. We need to return to accuracy and finesse. When players turn professional they should be obliged to use 75% balls and drivers of max 400cc. Furthermore they should use stock off the shelf clubs like everyone else, bit like rallying; pros should have to use clubs with a minimum production run of 1,000 clubs.”
I agree with every point made here.
"Are par fives obsolete in the pro game now? All seem to be viewed as birdie opportunities so make them a four. Toughen up the rough, move the tour to winter months not perpetual summer and limit use of driver eg max 10 shots per round."
Yes, the majority par fives are obsolete. When most Tour players are capable of reaching a 600-yard hole in two blows, why would we pretend that it is a par five? It certainly isn’t for them.
"Limit the distance golf balls will travel instead of trying to lengthen each course which in many cases just can't be done. The skill factor is going out of the game. Perhaps they should also reduce the number of clubs down to say 10 in total which would ensure shot making becomes more critical.”
My views on this are well documented. Change the golf ball for the pros.
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