Liberal Arts Blog — Bryson DeChambeau — the Physicist-Golfer-Genius Conquering the World
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic — Bryson DeChambeau — the Physicist-Golfer-Genius Conquering the World
Not your typical heart-warming sports story but inspiring nonetheless. How can generations of professional golfers and their coaches missed three things as basic as the insights that catapulted Bryson Chambreau to the pinnacle of the golf world in 2020? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
LIGHT BULB #1 GAIN 40 LBS TO LENGTHEN THE DRIVE — the “wisdom of the bomb”
1. “He emerged looking like an NFL linebacker, all because he believed in the wisdom of the bomb — a tactic backed by data that Broadie explains through the example of Rory McIlroy and strokes gained, a metric he developed that compares a player’s performance relative to the field. McIlroy is one of the longest-hitting drivers on tour. He’s also typically one of the least accurate. And the numbers explain why that helps make him one of the sport’s best golfers. McIlroy, who regularly drives the ball about 20 yards farther than the average, gains 1.4 strokes per round by hitting it farther than his peers. The loss in accuracy means he typically hits one fewer fairway, losing him an average of 0.3 strokes. That means he gains 1.1 strokes per round off the tee box alone.”
2. “The key is that driving distance is the one thing a golfer can control. Anyone has good and bad days putting, or times when they’re more and less accurate off the tee. But someone with the ability to hit the ball far can do it over and over again. DeChambeau took this idea to an extreme. He was a very good golfer who decided to remake his body — and threaten all of his mechanics — in order to become a great one. “I know you have this goal,” Como told him, “but be very aware of this risk that can be associated with it.”
3. “These are his average driving statistics from the last three PGA Tour seasons: 2019: 302.5 yards (34th on tour), 175.4 mph ball speed (42nd); 2020: 322.1 yards (1st), 184.7 mph (4th); 2021: 344.4 yards (1st), 192.8 mph (1st).
LIGHT BULB #2 USE CLUBS OF EXACTLY THE SAME LENGTH — like Bobby Jones
1. “DeChambeau was a teenager working when he was analyzing his swing and realized why he was having difficulties being consistent. The clubs themselves were inconsistent. All standard golf sets have clubs of different length, affecting the ball’s loft and distance.”
2. “Why do I have to hit variable length clubs?” DeChambeau asked Schy. “Why can’t I hit all clubs the same length?” “That is a very easy question to ask, but a very difficult one to answer,” Schy replied.
3. “So like any curious golf technicians, they jury-rigged an experimental set and ran a test with makeshift irons. It worked wonderfully. He never wanted to go back.”
NB: “On Bryson DeChambeau’s first trip to Augusta National, he saw something that stopped him in his tracks as he toured golf’s most famous clubhouse: a set of rickety old irons.The irons inside the trophy case were used by Bobby Jones, Augusta National’s founder, when he won all four majors in 1930. DeChambeau had been obsessed with this precise set of clubs for years. “Look,” DeChambeau whispered to his longtime instructor Mike Schy. “They’re all the same length.” Eureka! Bingo!
LIGHT BULB #3 WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE NARROW FAIRWAYS AT WING FOOT — how he won the US Open
1. “Winged Foot has narrow fairways and brutal rough. The conventional wisdom was that for anyone to have a prayer of winning, they needed to value accuracy above all else. DeChambeau planned to do the exact opposite: the biggest driver on tour was going to ignore the consequences and smash the ball as far as he could, whether it landed on the fairway or not.
2. “Here’s why it wasn’t crazy: Winged Foot’s fairways were too narrow. Trying to land the ball on them was an exercise in futility, and the data showed DeChambeau could gain more strokes by doing exactly what he wasn’t supposed to do.”
3. “The numbers they analyzed revealed the mistake wasn’t hitting it far, Como says. It was pretending that it made any sense to sacrifice something you know is good — driving the ball closer to the hole — for the faint hope that hitting it less close to the hole would produce more accuracy. With the strong chance that a long drive or a short drive would still wind up in the rough, only the player who drove it farther would have a reasonable chance at still landing the ball on the green with his next shot.”
NB: “DeChambeau finished 6 under par. No other player finished under par. It was his first major championship but the culmination of a years long quest to retool his game based on what the numbers showed.”
I like the fact that his name sounds a lot like Rochambeau, the French General who deserves as much credit as George Washington for winning the Battle of Yorktown and hence American Independence. And don’t forget Admiral de Grasse. The third player at Yorktown. Put de Grasse and Rochambeau together and you get — DeChambeau.
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Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.