"Bryson DeChambeau," I said. "He's the guy," I said.
"Who?" you said.
"Bryson DeChambeau," I said. "He's the guy, that is going to revolutionise golf."
To be specific, in July, I posed the question: "Are there things barely known now in the world of sport that, in decades to come will be simply taken for granted? What if ... in a major sport a bloke might have just discovered something which, decades from now, will be taken for granted?"
I then recounted the yarn about Bryson DeChambeau, the young professional golfer who was also a physics major at his American university. During the lockdown DeChambeau put his golfing expertise together with his knowledge of physics and reasoned his way forward on how to hit the golf ball further on his drives. He needed to be stronger, and needed a bigger muscle-mass to drive the club with more force and so hit the ball with more speed.
And so, as the New York Times reported, "DeChambeau threw himself into an extreme weight-lifting routine that added 40 pounds to his physique, most of it in his upper body."
He finished up at 240 pounds (109 kilograms), half again as big as the world's top ranked player, Rory McIlroy, and it helped! By DeChambeau's estimation his increased muscle mass has seen him generating 25 mph more ball speed and he is "routinely hitting drives 50 yards past the competition. His golf ball often travels at speeds approaching 200 miles an hour, and he envisions drives regularly flying 400 yards."
This, clearly, was a bloke taking a revolutionary approach, who might very well have a big future.
And on the weekend, we saw it, as DeChambeau broke through at the US Open on the Winged Foot golf course to smash his way to victory in the US Open by an extraordinary six strokes. Blokes like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were left so far behind in his wake that they didn't even make the cut.
Whatever my prescience, (thank you, thank you all) it was as nothing to an American journalist by the name of Eric Sedransk – who actually knows something about golf – and who early last year did the first detailed article comparing DeChambeau to Dick Fosbury, the American collegiate high-jumper of the 1960s. For it was Fosbury, see, who developed his own weird way of getting over the bar – "flopping" over the bar backwards – and immediately revolutionised the whole discipline by winning gold at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
What Sedransk focused on was DeChambeau's pure physics approach to his swing – well before the golfer changed his own physique – related the influence of a book he read in 2011 called "The Golfing Machine" where he was introduced to the concept of "Zero Shifting Motion."
And this, sports fans is where it gets complicated, particularly if, like me, you are not to golfing born. Broadly, the Zero Shifting Motion advocates that your whole swing – and every swing, no matter the lie, or which iron you are using – be on the one plane, that its whole arc could trace round the edge of one large hula hoop.
But DeChambeau took it further still.
"The zero shift," the physics major told another journalist, "allowed me to understand I couldn't swing 14 different ways. I realized 'look, [the club shaft lengths] are all different.' I'd have to change my body posture for each length of stroke – very difficult. I said 'why can't the shafts all be the same length?"
The response: "That's any easy question to ask and a tough one to answer."
And so DeChambeau had all his irons custom-made to the same length. He perfected the one Zero Shifting Motion for every stroke, always with the same length club. And, with his newly powerful body, we saw what happened on the weekend.
He was not particularly accurate on the fairways, in fact, he only hit 23 of them over the four rounds. No matter! He hit the ball so damn far, and so far ahead of his opponents, that all he had to do was hit a "wedge shot", whatever that is, to get back on track and he was soon on the green and could use his strong putting game to get home from there.
In the way of the victory, Rory McIlroy was asked how he would have reacted, had he been told before the tournament that the winner would put the ball on the fairway just four times for his last 21 fairways.
"No chance. No chance," McIlroy said. "I don't really know what to say because that's just the complete opposite of what you think a US Open champion does. Look, he's found a way to do it. Whether that's good or bad for the game, I don't know, but it's just—it's not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It's kind of hard to really wrap my head around it."
But here's the thing.
See, Winged Foot is famous for tight fairways and thick rough – a course that would typically be murder for a golfer hitting wayward shots. But he still won by six shots!
The question now is what will happen at Augusta for the belated but upcoming Masters in mid-November, where the fairways are wide and the roughs are all but non-existent?
Prima facie, it looks like he might moider da bums! Stand by, sports fans, it's going to get interesting.
We can talk about whether it's actually good for golf, later.
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