I'll take the rough with the smooth when judging Bryson's way of doing things
DeChambeau should be applauded for his efforts to take golf to the next level
I saw what I considered to be an interesting quote from a guy called David Chase the other day.
You may not be familiar with him but you’ve almost certainly heard of his most famous creation - The Sopranos.
This TV series is so good that I decided just over ten weeks ago that the best way to count down to the proposed opening-up day of June 21 would be to watch all 86 episodes, one a day, until the restrictions were lifted.
It has been one of my favourite pastimes since the imposition of the first lockdown.
Anyway, he said this: “It doesn’t matter if your lead character is good or bad. He just has to be interesting and he has to be good at what he does.”
It was in response to a common question of whether his principal character, Mafia boss Tony Soprano, is the hero or the villain of the series.
A strong case could be made for both.
But it struck me that Chase could have been talking about golfer Bryson DeChambeau, who defends his US Open title next week.
I’m finding it difficult to think of a more divisive sportsman in my lifetime.
Sure, members of teams are equally adored and vilified.
We all have footballers we hate that we would actually love to have turning out for our lot on a Saturday afternoon.
And fans can be willing to excuse all sorts of misdemeanours and transgressions based on the shirt the perpetrator wears at work.
In individual sport that consideration is not present, but there will still be plenty of people willing DeChambeau to fall flat on his face at Torrey Pines.
I’m not going to be one of them and it will have nothing to do with whether he will be carrying the burden of my money.
It will be because, as Chase states, the most interesting thing about him is that he is interesting.
DeChambeau is unusual. Unlike the rest of the players on the PGA Tour, the shafts on his iron clubs are of equal length, but that’s really just the start of it.
Having majored in physics at Southern Methodist University, it’s fair to say he takes a scientific approach to the game.
He soaks his golf balls in Epsom salt water to gauge which are the most spherical and does equations in his head to ascertain the optimum direction and pace of his putts.
Put ‘the science of putting’ into your search engine of choice and watch the interview he did with Sky’s David Livingstone at the Players Championship a few years ago.
It’s fascinating and far beyond anything I struggled to get to grips with in my GCSE general science.
But all this seems to rub people up the wrong way for three reasons.
Firstly, folks don’t like change, particularly in golf which is such a conservative sport. There is a way of doing things and that is the way the game likes it.
And they’ve only just got to grips with Tiger-proofing their courses so they need a quasi-Michelin Man who averages 322.7 yards off the tee like a hole in the head.
Secondly, the complicated nature of his shot analysis and course management means it becomes a very slow process.
There will be a multitude of "just bloody get on with it" shouts in living rooms around the world next week.
And thirdly, as science provides clear answers, it will not take much to convince DeChambeau that he is right and others are wrong.
People with such convictions are often accused of arrogance.
Although he might not always show it, some may feel DeChambeau looks down on non-believers and, unforgivingly in their eyes, doesn't care if he upsets people.
But I can live with all of this.
The only thing DeChambeau does that could harm anyone else is not shout "fore" when he hits the ball into the crowd.
That’s bad form and was rightly called out at the Memorial last week even if he was courteous to a senior citizen he struck on one occasion.
But his willingness to innovate could change the game immeasurably and any developments should be embraced and outweigh all other considerations.
He doesn’t have to be viewed as the enemy by everyone else and it has been heartening to see Brooks Koepka take a recent spat with DeChambeau in good spirits over the last couple of weeks.
It is hard to decipher exactly what DeChambeau muttered as he walked behind the shot when Koepka was knocked off his stride in a TV interview the other week.
Footage of it became what the kids call viral and it seemed it was time to pick sides, but I liked Brooks’s reaction.
When people were being allegedly marched out of Muirfield Village last week when shouting "Go Brooksy" following DeChambeau’s drives, Koepka was on hand to offer them a case of his favourite beer by way of compensation.
Perhaps Brooks realises raising the game’s profile is no bad thing.
But golf has to develop and DeChambeau should be applauded for trying something different.
Just like the ski jumpers who have paid little regard to their safety when trying to develop optimum techniques over the years.
Just like Dick Fosbury, who developed his famous ‘flop’ to win the high jump at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
Just like when Dennis Taylor started wearing his glasses upside down and won the world snooker crown in 1985.
Someone has to be the first, so I support Bryson in his endeavours.
After all, unlike Tony Soprano, he’s not killing anybody.
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