David Howell: Bryson’s dedication leads him to take scientific route to success

I’d like to boast that it was me, your humble Worldwide Golf Columnist who was known globally as the most dedicated golfer on the planet. But alas I think we all recognise that it was the other WWG Columnist, the mighty Gary Player, who was renowned as the fittest, most determined golfer of his era. Whilst some may have been more gifted, no one will work harder than me, was his mantra. Nine Majors and a lifetime as part of the Big Three along with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, was his reward, quite some feat, no doubt about that.

Of course, all players who elevate their game to the level of Tour player don’t do it on talent alone. Every one of them has dedicated their life to the pursuit of being the best golfer they can be; they have done the 10,000 hours; they have sacrificed in other areas of their life to make it onto the Tour – that’s just a given. Dedication is a pre-requisite to becoming a Tour-pro, but from that point on, some players are able to go that extra mile, to live a life so one- dimensional that nothing will stand in their way of the pursuit of their dreams.

Sir Nick Faldo gave his life to golf for 30 years, letting nothing come in his way in his search for greatness. No stone was left unturned; hours spent grinding away were second to none, of that there was no doubt; and from that, I know from experience also comes a sense of entitlement. When it comes to the crunch that, too, can make a difference.

Tiger factor

Then Tiger hit the scene. He was more talented, had more natural ability, and he was more focused than any golfer has ever been before. His destiny was decided by the age of ten, not by anyone else but by himself. Jack Nicklaus’s records were there to be beaten, and Tiger embarked on a journey that no other player had dared to tread, truly aiming for the stars.

Let me be clear, I have been on Tour for twenty-five years, and I can’t think of many players who have a ‘laissez faire’ attitude towards their careers. Everyone is trying their best, they are embarking on their chosen career path in the best way they see fi t for them. They are investing in coaches and physios and personal trainers, phsycologists, nutritionists and, if you feel like I do right now, probably neurologists!

But, once in a while someone comes along and does something totally different, and boy is Bryson DeChambeau doing things differently. Imagine the strength of mind it takes to be inspired by the world’s best players, watching them on television, dreaming of joining them as teenagers do, to want to be one of them, but to also think: “Do you know what, I think there’s a better way to go about playing this game.”

To be the only player using the same length shafts in his irons is an incredible statement in itself. The inquisitive mind that Bryson clearly possesses is a strength, but eschewing decades of wisdom that says ‘this is how golf is played’ is quite something. Most people are trying to copy their idols, but the new US Open Champion is only copying one thing from the greats that have gone before him, and that is total and utter immersion in the game.

He has taken preparation to a new level, one that not many will be able to follow, but his ‘scientific’ approach is one that has only really been made available as science in other areas has improved.

Trackman and Flightscope provide the numbers and Shotlink took statistical data to a new level on the PGA Tour 15 years ago. Mark Brody then interpreted those stats differently and started to paint a different and clearer picture for everyone to contemplate. Titleist, at their TPI centre in Carlsbad, California, mapped out the golf swing as a Kinetic chain 20 years ago, power generation became a focus because movement experts started to understand where the power comes from.

Green books and protein shakes

Green reading books came along after the advent of a machine that can scan the greens and produce the book. And, of course, the club manufacturers have taken things to a new level, too.  Let’s face facts: Putting on three stone in muscle in just four months is an incredible feat, probably only possible due to the science that has gone into those protein shakes that have made their way into Bryson’s hands, along with lots of old-fashioned toil in the Gym, ‘the blood, sweat and tears’ as he eloquently put it.

So the science of golf has been improving, and Bryson has put it all together in a truly exceptional way. He is a product of our times and has earned the respect of just about every player I have spoken to. He has done something different, and been successful at it, and this makes him as deserving a Major winner as we have had for a long time.

I played at Winged Foot 15 or so years ago when Australian Geoff Ogilvy emerged the winner. In fact, I played alongside him over the first two days. His short game was sensational and, strangely, I remember commenting to my caddy that if Geoff could start hitting it a little better over the weekend then he might have a chance – turns out I was right about that one.

I myself made 18 birdies that week, and 6-over-par won the tournament, which meant all I had to do was play the other 54 holes in 23 over par, a feat you might imagine was more than doable.

Alas, I don’t write today as a former US Open Champion, just another golfer who couldn’t work out how to get the ball up and down around those dastardly Winged Foot green complexes.