Bryson Dechambeau’s emergence as a force to be reckoned with on Golf’s grandest stages has been met with both enthusiasm and apathy in equal measure. With his recent maiden major victory at the US Open it is abundantly clear that this is a player who must now be feared at any major championship.
Bryson’s controversial approach to the sport has divided as many opinions as the man himself has fairways, with his brutal trademark power off the tee. Which in itself raises valid arguments on both ends of the spectrum, in terms of the impact his style of play will eventually have on the game of Golf.
Nicknamed “The Scientist” Bryson has attempted to remove the emotion and artistry from the game, and many feel that this is its vital foundation. A sport raised on romance and flair which made the likes of Seve Ballesteros such a popular champion within his lifetime. The great entertainer who thrilled crowds with his warm personality and a magical range of Golf shots that would be deemed inconceivable by so many, yet Seve pulled them off with great gusto on route to five major championships.
In stark contrast we now have Bryson Dechambeau, who’s power based approach is nullifying the challenges that the golf course is supposed to present the player with. His distances are outstripping his rivals off the tee and it is simply becoming a game of pitch and putt on each hole for him, as hitting the fairway is no longer the prerequisite. This was clearly evident in his victory at the US Open at Winged Foot, where he hit just 23 of 56 fairways at a course deemed by many to be a stern test for even the most accomplished and decorated Golfers.
Bryson’s average distance off the tee is a staggering 323 yards, and according to statistics he has covered 67 percent of all courses yardage off the tee this season. This is where the controversy surrounding the man continues to rage as purists will suggest that he is sabotaging the sport.
In many ways you can certainly see it from this perspective as we have watched the game over many years be decided on having the ability to visualise shots that use the contours and undulations of the course to find the end result, which can result in a fascinating days play for the spectator. Meanwhile Dechambeau simply bulldozes his way through each hole with no real concern in regards to hitting fairways.
What is evident though and is sometimes disregarded by many, is his solid putting and deft approach play with his wedges. His faultless display at Winged Foot on the final day was a fine testament to that fact and left him the only man under par for the day at a tournament where many derided his approach as foolhardy for such a unrelenting venue.
Interestingly so he is also the only man on the PGA tour to have all his irons and wedges cut to the same length in order to cut down on differentials in his game, which further facilitates his machine like approach to the sport. This has certainly given many food for thought, as yet again Bryson has reached outside the box in order to find solutions to the endlessly complex yet hugely satisfying game of Golf.
His driving technique is similar to those that compete in purely long drive contests and whether this technique can be upheld by him remains to be seen. It is something that is bound to place serious strain on the human body with such velocity placed into the swing. Yet at this juncture it is a method that has delivered Dechambeau the results that he so desires, and it cannot be denied that his name will reside alongside the all time greats on the US Open trophy.
Inspired by his fellow professional Brooks Koepka power based game, it was Dechambeau who took the concept and blasted it into another stratosphere, as without question his dedication and commitment must be commended as he has placed great emphasis in transforming his physical appearance over the last two years. Morphing from a slight, slender Golfer to a hulking powerhouse which can only be achieved through sheer commitment and desire. The man himself is very vocal on the fact that he works out meticulously every day, whilst following a diet structured towards performance rather than pleasure.
Pre-pandemic Bryson had packed on 20lbs in muscle mass and claims to have added another 20lb in weight during the suspension of the current season during lockdown, which has been a huge contributing factor to his now mammoth distance on the Golf course.
Bryson himself has declared that he wishes to inspire a new generation with his maverick approach to the sport. However, if the game is to be headed into these new unchartered waters it would surely seem sensible to put into place a anti-doping system across the sport, as Dechambeau and many other pretenders to his throne may look for any slight edge that will propel them to fame and fortune. Without doubt steroid abuse could become apparent in the game, and as with any sport it would be wrong and detrimental to have any championships decided by the dark arts.
His studious and calculated approach to every aspect of the game has also led to criticism of slow play amongst his fellow professionals. As a fan it can admittedly be challenging to watch, but as long as the man himself stays clean it is difficult to begrudge him his first major victory due to his innovation and sheer desire in the pursuit of glory.
Many times he is seen practicing late night on the range at major competitions, with relentless sessions focusing on the ability to hit the same shot over and over again faultlessly more than anyone else, which ultimately is what the game is all about when you strip it back to its bare bones.
Furthermore, it will be interesting to witness how the man himself copes with the scrutiny his new found status in the game brings him when spectators are eventually allowed to make their comeback.
Seemingly he has conquered the physical aspects of the game, but in my opinion it is telling that he captured his first major without fans in attendance. There is no doubt that his win must be respected and he is no stranger to success with nine tour victories under his belt. However, with fans in attendance at a major tournament it becomes a new breed of animal as it creates a cacophony of pressure that some players thrive on and others succumb to. Thus, upon their eventual return it will be fascinating to see if he also possesses the vital mental ingredients in his quest to topple the Golfing world.
Despite not being the greatest advocate of his game, I certainly feel that his incredible endeavour to improve and find solutions to the equations that Golf presents is admirable. It is something that has never been utilised in the game ever before and that in itself makes for compelling viewing.
However, I feel that we must tread incredibly carefully as the game may look and feel vastly different in years to come if Bryson’s novel style is cloned enough by future participants in the sport.
With that in mind we can only look forward with excitement as to how his fellow tour professionals will look to combat his unique tactics on the golf course, and ultimately hope that the game itself upholds its deep rooted integrity.
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