While there was plenty to look forward to leading up to last week’s return of PGA Tour golf at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the latest reveal of Bryson DeChambeau’s body transformation and the impact it would have on his game was a hot topic entering the week.
One of the game’s most individualistic thinkers showed off the fruits of his offseason labor before the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, but with three months off to work on his physique, DeChambeau showed up at Colonial Country Club up 25 pounds from his pre-shutdown weight, a 45-pound increase from his 2019 form.
His physical transformation had been providing dividends over the first three months of the season as he finished inside the top-5 three of the four events he teed it up in this year, but with even more mass, his play at Colonial was otherworldly.
Playing alongside the likes of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy over the four days, DeChambeau was routinely blowing drivers past two of the game’s biggest hitters by 20, 30, even 40 yards.
Longest drives this week for @B_DeChambeau:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 14, 2020
It’s no surprise that DeChambeau went on to lead the event in driving distance (340.3) and strokes gained: off the tee (+10.594), but one World Golf Hall of Famer is pointing to DeChambeau’s distance increase as a case study for rolling back the golf ball.
“The transformation has been amazing, I could not believe what I saw when I switched on in the first round — even Bryson’s XL shirts are looking tight now,” Colin Montgomerie told BBC Radio. “Bryson played with Dustin Johnson the first two days and he was giving him 25 yards off the tee — and Dustin is no slouch. Extraordinary. He is huge.
“It’s great to see athleticism in the game, but to see him carrying 330 yards in the air and with the bounce, you are up to 350, 360? This is getting unreal, something we haven’t seen before, a whole new game we are beginning to witness.
“On Friday, Bryson had 10 holes on which he was within 100 yards of the green for his approach. And if you include the four par threes, that means there were only four holes on which Bryson was more than 100 yards away for his approach. The game has changed dramatically. It’s now brute force and a sand-wedge.”
Montgomerie offered a specific solution that sounds good on its head, but may be a little too drastic in terms of action.
“I’m an advocate of what Jack Nicklaus proposes — a tournament ball for professionals, that goes only 80 to 85 percent as far,” he said. “The time has come, because we can’t be building courses at 10,000 yards.
“We haven’t the money or the space and there are the obvious ecological reasons. A tournament ball would be a massive step, because of that term: ‘bifurcation.’ Yet haven’t we reached that stage, now? We’ve seen at Colonial that something has to be done or these classic courses cannot be used.”
Bryson hit more tee shots over 320 yards last week (26) than Henrik Stenson did in the whole of last season (25). pic.twitter.com/S6V0YMDk2o
— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) June 15, 2020
As GolfDigest.com’s E. Michael Johnson points out, a 15-20% reduction is a massive step backward.
“Let’s just do some pure math,” Johnson wrote. “DeChambeau leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, averaging 323.8 yards off the tee. Now lop 20 percent off that and the driving distance leader on tour is averaging … wait for it … 259.04 yards.
“Now let’s take the tour’s overall 296.4-yard average. Take back 20 percent, and it drops to 237.12. Or about the length of the shortest hitter on the LPGA Tour in 2019. And what about poor David Lingmerth, who ranks last on the PGA Tour at 275.4 yards? That drops to 220.32 yards.”