Since Bryson DeChambeau overpowered Winged Foot my phone has been going crazy with people asking me if this is the new look of the game. I’ve answered this question many times over the last four decades, ever since Jack Nicklaus drove through the back of the 18th at St Andrews.
Distance will always give players an advantage. Jack was the ﬁrst to highlight this and Tiger backed it up. Bryson has always had speed. He hasn’t all of a sudden guzzled 600g of protein a day and smashed the gym to pick up blistering ball speed. He was registering close to 190mph ball speed at The Open last year. Since then his added bulk has enabled him to apply more force and absorb the energy required to pound the ball the way he does.
US Open rough wasn’t as challenging as it looked
So, what happened at the US Open was that he proved he is a thinker. The rough looked deep on television, for sure, but what you couldn’t see was the fact that the grass was so long it folded over on itself. This meant the balls we not sinking into the base of the rough and enabled players to make a relatively clean contact. We threw close to 100 balls round some greens and not one made its way to the base of the rough. Bryson took full advantage of that and was able to use his length in the air to take the course on.
It’s not a new technique as Tiger and Jack have demonstrated throughout the years. It was just that Bryson had the game to carry it off and, as usual, he had made the calculations.
I can’t see many players deciding to bulk up like Bryson. Possibly Rory might add a few more pounds to take him on but you either have the genetic speed or you don’t. You can enhance the speed through the right techniques, but the base is normally a gift you are born with.
Now, you will no doubt be thinking that Bryson will not be able to achieve the same results round Augusta in November, but I believe he will ﬁnd a way. He’s not just long with the driver but he’s accurate with it, so the Masters committee will ﬁnd it hard to protect the course against someone with that kind of ability, and a solid short game to go with it. They tried to Tiger-proof it after he demolished the ﬁeld in 1997 but lengthening the course just plays into the hands of the big hitters.
Driving is no longer an artform
Technology has a lot to answer for. Back in the 1970s and 80s players shone in particular aspects of the game. Players became known as drivers; iron players; short game specialists and putters. Today, everyone drives the ball great. Some are longer than others but when the Tour average is more than 290 yards, driving has been mastered by most players in the ﬁeld. There will always be a Jack; a Tiger; or a Rory in the ﬁeld. But they are a limited few.
So how do you future-proof the Majors – or even the professional game – from the whole ﬁeld from turning iconic courses into a drive, pitch and putt? It’s simple– bring back the high-spinning ball like the balata. The higher the ball speed, the higher the spin and we will see many players reloading off the tee. You couldn’t tee a balata up and let it ﬂy on full throttle. They had a mind of their own and loved to wander when misstruck ever so slightly.
Bring back the reload
Golf is just made to look too easy by the professionals and the high-spinning ball will bring them back down to earth. They will not only be standing on a tee box ﬁguring out carry distances but also paying attention to the trouble left and right.