Golf’s perpetual fear of how far the ball goes is irrational

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 31, 2021 16:51

The R&A and United States Golf Association were just waiting for someone like Bryson Dechambeau to come along so that they could drive up support for their obsession of making sure professional golfers went back to hitting the ball as far as their predecessors of the 1980s. Indeed, the bulky American’s knack of shooting from the hip and all-round brash behaviour helped get the length skeptics on side as most people decided that they didn’t like the cut of DeChambeau’s jib. Yes, the 28-year-old was the perfect mix of arrogant and naive and soon became the poster boy for everything that was wrong with golf in the modern age.

Now, given that DeChambeau is the longest hitter on tour, it certainly helped sway public opinion in the sense that everyone suddenly agreed that something needed to be done about canceling out his advantage off the tee. It seems to be a rather spectacular overreaction when you consider that DeChambeau is far from dominant on tour and is, in fact, at long odds of 16/1 to win the 2022 Masters in the latest sports betting.

Bryson De Chambeau. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Indeed, one can look at the latest betting tips from Paddy Power and see that the Californian is not among the favorites to claim the first green jacket of his career in 2022. In reality, it’s easy to see why when you consider that DeChambeau finished 34th and 46th in his last two Masters tournaments. The fact of the matter is that ironically, his length is often his downfall around Augusta National and other courses which should have reassured the powers that be of world golf that they didn’t need to adopt a burn the house down approach to the matter.

 

Instead, they look set to enforce a law that will reduce the driver length from 48 to 46 inches in a bid to lessen the clubhead speed that a player gets from a longer shaft. In other words, the longer the club, the further the ball is likely to go which is why this rule will come into effect from 2022. A point worth considering is that both the PGA Tour and European Tour can still decide not to enforce the new ruling, but it is thought that the amendment will sail through any potential vote and be in place for the future. 

Perhaps there would be more support for this upcoming change if DeChambeau was winning every week and turning viewers off the sport due to the lack of competition, similar to Michael Schumacher in Formula One during the early 2000s. But the reality is that the PGA Tour is so extremely competitive that we have no idea who will win from week to week.

 

Granted, DeChambeau may have won twice during the 2021 season but that’s because he’s an exceptionally talented golfer in the prime of his career, just like Patrick Cantlay is, who notably, went on to win an incredible four times last season, double the amount that DeChambeau did. The difference is that DeChambeau topped the charts for driving distance in 2021 with an average of 323 yards whilst Cantlay ranked as far down as 50th on tour after averaging 302.

 

Whichever way you end up looking at it, you can only conclude that length off the tee does not guarantee success, which is why the powers that be are making a mistake by putting their energy into trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 31, 2021 16:51
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