The Bryson DeChambeau Revolution is happening, even if it’s not completely visible yet. DeChambeau, who Rory McIlroy called “the most talked-about man in golf right now,” has been lighting up the PGA Tour with his weight gain, distance advantage and U.S. Open win.
His story matters, not because you and I are talking about it, but because other golfers are talking about it. When players are weighing in on other players and their strategies unprompted, you know you have a monster narrative on your hands.
There’s even more happening when it comes to DeChambeau, too. Not only are players talking about him, they’re trying to emulate him. Maybe not the weight gain or some of the other idiosyncrasies, but the insane speed and distance advantage he’s created have become part of the equation for multiple top 10 players in the world.
We saw this in the weeks after DeChambeau’s U.S. Open win when players like McIlroy and Dustin Johnson — not exactly two of the shorter guys in the world — were throwing their Trackman numbers on social media. Maybe the plan is not to become Bryson (not sure how many Brysons we can handle as a society) but rather to prove to themselves that they can create a facsimile if necessary.
“Having length is an advantage and I’ve always been pretty long,” McIlroy said on Wednesday at the CJ Cup. “But I felt like there was room to … I think what I want to do is at least know that I have it if I need it. I’m not going to try to do it all the time, I’m not trying to get my ball speed into the 190s every time I hit a driver, but at least I know that if I need to do it, I can do it.”
It would be one thing if the No. 830 player in the world was doing this (and maybe he is), but it’s another thing when a four-time major winner is thinking differently about the future because of one guy.
“From what I’ve done and what I’ve been trying .. you know, sort of experimenting with the last couple weeks, it’s the fastest I’ve ever moved the club, the fastest my body’s ever moved,” added McIlroy. “So yeah, I think it’s the way the game’s going.”
One of McIlroy’s contemporaries — and maybe the one he respects the most — said nearly the same thing the day before at Shadow Creek, site of this year’s CJ Cup.
“I just want some more speed,” Justin Thomas said. “I feel like I’ve been good at having another gear, another 5 or 10 yards if I need it, but I don’t necessarily have that other 20. At the same time, and this is not disrespectful to Bryson, I’m not going to put on 40 pounds, I don’t have the height to do that. I’m going to look like a beach ball if I put on 40 pounds. I can get stronger in different parts of my body that can help me hit it farther and gain some distance, but I hit it plenty far enough to win tournaments and do well.
“If there’s a way I can use it to get an advantage, but at the end of the day, if I continue to hit the same distance and play the rest of my career injury-free, that’s most important and that’s what I’ve been trying to do with my training. We’re going to see if we can incorporate some stuff that gets me a little bit more speed.”
One of the most difficult things to do in all of this is to create speed without losing flexibility, fitness or health. It’s a concern for DeChambeau, maybe not right now but even five years from now.
Still, it seems pretty obvious what direction all of this is going. When the most recent major winner is taking a month off from playing competitive golf to hit 48-inch drivers to prepare for the biggest event of the year — and nothing about that seems crazy — then the future should be crystal clear. World-class length is the meal ticket of tomorrow, and two of the top five players on the planet are — I can’t believe I’m saying this — trying to keep up.