Great stuff from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open today—if you look past he lack of distancing and facial covering apparently just off the 14th hole at Galgorm Resort and Spa. Aaron Raileads heading into the final round.
But the scenes just off the course got most of the broadcasters and social media attention Saturday, and why not:
"It's the worst I ever felt," he said. "Every bone in my body hurt."
Calcavecchia can't pinpoint where he picked up the virus. And he said the fact that neither his wife, Brenda, nor any of the people he played with on a weeklong golf vacation in Nebraska (including two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen and tour pro Scott Dunlap), contracted COVID-19 is "a minor miracle."
He goes on to describe a harrowing cross-country journey with worsening conditions each day until heading to the hospital for testing and treatment.
In Augusta, the account also posted this image of the area behind Amen Corner. A new road has been installed on property purchased from Augusta Country Club and a distinct arc in the road provides room to length the par-5 13th hole to offset the impacts of Peloton and Whoop bands.
In wrapping up Bryson DeChambeau’s revolutionary U.S. Open win, we long time technistas have seen new dimensions added to the distance debate.
From how the game is played, to the relentless “athlete” marketing push, the debate includes fresh dimensions courtesy of Bryson’s brusque style. Just look at Cameron Champ. He is probably capable of longer drives and has a pair of nice wins along with a run at the PGA Championship to beef up his credentials. But there is something more revealing about the sight of Bryson’s weight gain in a matter of months and the violent nature of his swing.
The aesthetic of it is cringe worthy. But golf has always had aggressive lashers. There’s more to this than style.
Seeing someone combine an excessive diet with a Happy Gilmore swing is one thing, but it becomes a bit less fun when you sense injury is inevitable. But he’s a grown man and he’s entitled to do what he likes with his body. At least, within reason and under rules meant to maintain the integrity of the competition.
So about the children.
At certain ages we are able to observe and absorb tiny details that are sometimes channeled into golf swings. Or into mannerisms. Or how we practice, prepare and dress. With kids getting serious at younger ages able to access more information than ever, this is a careful way of asking: do we want kids seeing what Bryson’s doing and copying the methods to his madness?
Today’s equipment and launch monitor technology allows a talented golfer to maximize their implements to absurd driving-distance effect. All credit to Bryson, he outsmarted the system. But the rules are supposed to consider whether it is a good thing on many levels, including preventing young people from taking extreme measures to gain distance.
With that in mind, here are a few final reads regarding Bryson and the U.S. Open, starting with a reminder that any talk about rules changes must start with praise for DeChambeau. An adjustment to the rules was already in mind before he made his changes thanks to the Statement of Principles, so the next discussions should never feel like a rebuke or de-legitimization of his win.
“How many people have changed their body, changed their golf swing and lost their career?” said Chris Como, who works with DeChambeau as a swing coach and speaks his language with his background in biomechanics.
True. That said, there should be a place in the rules to modify equipment to allow a player to swing hard, but return some sanity to the player-club symbiosis. Again, hats off to Bryson and you can keep your new body, but in the interest of the sport and future generations, we also need to draw a line in the sand. Or, gasp, go backwards.
The lad in question is a former child star and now a good player for a legendary southern California high school. He has aspirations to get better and longer off the tee. This being 2020, you know where this is going.
When on-campus classes stopped in March, golf courses also closed, leaving the then-sophomore scrambling. His mother bought him a target to practice his chipping in the backyard. He tried hitting off a mat, but that doesn’t help for real golf. He went for runs, rode a bike and worked on building his strength while trying to keep his slender 6-foot-1, 145-pound body in shape. He can drive a ball 280 yards but says he’s been “eating a lot.”
He and his golf friends have been talking nonstop this summer about PGA sensation Bryson DeChambeau, who gained 40 pounds and has been hitting balls beyond 400 yards.
“That’s who we’re chasing in the fitness world,” he said.
Long drives with friends this summer produced, “You pulled a Bryson.”
Today’s equipment and fitting allows for players to grow-up swinging more efficiently than past generations. But at what point does skill become diminished by technology or worse, do training regimens and expensive protein diets turn golf into a pursuit of unhealthy behaviors and gluttony?
Is anyone at the highest levels concerned about the idea of encouraging teenagers to push their bodies before they’re ready? In a sport that has always been about more than just getting stronger?
To date there has been little urgency to act for any reason, including child safety. But maybe the sight of Bryson’s transformation and his promise to pursuing more weight gain will convince the regulators to better regulate. For the children.
Also, an absolute must-listen is this podcast with architect Robin Hiseman and America’s Arble that covers the course, its place in the area, the architectural charm of Cleeve Hill, the maintenance and the “common ground” success of it for both golf and walkers.
“With the capabilities at the moment, I would say Bryson is swinging at about, if you compare it to 100 metres, he’d be running at 12 seconds. The human capability, he’s running 100 metres at about 12 seconds at the moment, so he’s still got another 20 per cent more in the tank in terms of human capabilities for other players to come along.
He also made this prediction about the women’s game and the speed chase:
“I actually think the biggest change could come in women’s golf. You’re going to get a woman out there playing well into the mid-170s ball speed and would be competitive on the men’s tour.”
The rescheduled 2020 U.S. Open was a success despite the horror of a six-under-par winning score and the West Course not getting the treatment from NBC’s budget-conscious approach vs. what CBS has been doing of late or what Fox’s Mark Loomis and crew might have provided with a normal budget.
At the risk of getting called before some committee of point missers, CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz offered a way to better highlight the club’s more soulful East Course while retaining the best of the West.
When Winged Foot hosts the U.S. Open next time around, I’d love to see a full representation of its two courses. I’m talking a composite of the famous and familiar West Course, and the lesser known but equally (some say surpassingly) magnificent East Course. On the surface it sounds like a radical idea, but I’ve long believed that a combination of the two would result in a design that is formidable, beautiful, sensible and unique in major-championship golf.
I’ve gone through the course a few times and I think its sensational. Yes, it’s only 7,266 yards and the driving range situation is complicated, but I only see one problem no one could have imagined pre-tournament: 370-yard plus drives at what would be Nantz’s “Dream Course” finishing hole, the West’s ninth hole.
More impressively, in Nantz’s composite course the famous 10th hole West remains the 10th, the 1st the first—it’s a very severe green you know—and the current 18th West becomes the ninth. No one will shed a tear about that.
There is one long (200 yard) walk from the proposed 12th West to the proposed 13th (which is the fantastic mid-length par-4 15th West). This very minor annoyance sets up a stretch of East Course gems that would become the composite’s 14th to 17th holes. The East’s par-3 17th, a favorite hole of many, retains its number but a newfound prominence in deciding the U.S. Open outcome.
Nantz has given the USGA something to think about for that next time the U.S. Open heads to Winged Foot.
The confounding implosion of Arnold Palmer and Joe Gibbs’ successfulvision is coming into better focus after two stories emerged connecting more dots.
Palash Goshat International Business Times reports on activist investorNelson Peltz acquiring 7.2 million shares in Golf Channel owner Comcast, as first reported in the Wall Street Journal. Peltz’s Trian Fund now holds 20 million shares and a 0.4% stake in the company, believing the stock is undervalued, looks forward to discussions about improving the company, yada, yada.
The Journal commented that Trian is known for “encouraging changes at companies it targets, such as a breakup or sale of underperforming divisions or moves to improve efficiency and better use capital. It often seeks board representation and tries to avoid public spats, unlike some of its more pugnacious rivals.”
However, Comcast may be difficult for Trian to influence as Brian Roberts, its chairman and chief executive officer, controls about one-third of the stock’s voting rights.
Thanks to reader Todd for Lillian Rizzo and Joe Flint’s storythat included this:
The future is also dimming for sports networks like the Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. Hockey and soccer games are likely to appear more frequently on USA Network and Peacock, the people say.
The move to downsize cable networks comes as the pandemic weighs on NBCUniversal’s business. Movie-theater closures hurt its film operation, its theme parks were closed and TV ad spending fell off. NBC’s second-quarter revenue shrank 25% compared with the same period last year.
When Comcast acquired control of NBCUniversal nearly a decade ago, Chief Executive Brian Roberts cited the cable entertainment networks as a key attraction in the deal.
And now those channels, along with sagging numbers at NBC would seem to be part of Peltz’s desire to see Comcast consider shedding the units via breakup or sale. Budget cuts seem unlikely since, as last weekends bare bone U.S. Open telecast showed, NBC has already trimmed so much.
Sadly, as Quinn noted last week, any outcome of this corporate arm wrestling appears too late for the several hundred who lost jobs. Worse, for viewers who appreciated the vision of Palmer and Gibbs, the damage has already been done.
Tuesday, Danny Lee admirably pulled out the old Notes app, typed out an apology and posted it to Twitter. He says he has been battling a wrist issue—the reason cited for his WD—and will be taking some time off.
GolfDigest.com’s Dave Shedloskireports onMike Davis’s future plans after the USGA announced their current CEO’s plans to depart by the end of 2021 (full release below).
Shedloski says Davis will pursue his well known passion for architecture, which has been instrumental in the USGA returning to classic venues and a huge inspiration for many restorations. Shedloski writes:
The USGA on Tuesday announced that Davis is stepping down as its chief executive officer, effective at the end of 2021, to embark on a career in golf course design and construction. Davis plans to team up with Tom Fazio II to create a new golf course architecture company, Fazio & Davis Golf Design.
“I’ve absolutely loved the USGA, and I hate the idea of leaving,” said Davis, 55, who became the USGA’s seventh executive director in 2011, succeeding David Fay, a role that segued into that of CEO in 2016. “I’ve grown up around here. I mean, it will have been 32 years by the time I leave, and my work in championships and governance and so on is just ... in some ways, I never thought I’d leave.
“But at the heart of this, I have always loved golf course design. I loved learning, seeing, playing, studying golf courses. I’m closer to 60 than I am 50, and there was almost a sense that if I don’t do this, I’m going to regret it.
Here is the full release from the USGA where it says Davis will assist with the “onboarding” of the next CEO, also known as hiring:
USGA CEO Mike Davis Announces Departure in 2021
Search for new CEO to begin
LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (Sept. 22, 2020) – The USGA today announced that CEO Mike Davis will leave the organization by the end of 2021 to pursue a life-long passion for golf course design and construction.
In the next step of his professional journey, Davis will team with accomplished golf course designer Tom Fazio II in a new business venture, where together they have formed Fazio & Davis Golf Design.
Davis, who joined the USGA in 1990, became the Association’s seventh executive director in 2011 and its first Chief Executive Officer in 2016. In the CEO role, Davis is responsible for managing all aspects of the association’s day-to-day operations, including its core functions, essential programs and human and financial resources. He serves as a member of several golf-related boards, including the International Golf Federation, World Golf Foundation, World Golf Hall of Fame and Official World Golf Rankings.
“Leading the USGA has been such an honor, and I’m grateful for the many wonderful years I have had with this great organization,” said Davis. “While I am excited for my next chapter, my work here is not done, and I look forward to furthering our mission to better the game over the next 15 months.”
Until his departure, Davis will continue to focus on leading the organization through the impacts of COVID-19, advancing the USGA’s commitment to create Golf House Pinehurst; driving USGA strategy (including, importantly, the outcomes of the Distance Insights project); and on-boarding and supporting his successor to ensure a smooth transition for the next CEO.
"Mike has been a transformational leader in golf and his actions to move the USGA forward have been numerous and decisive," said USGA President Stu Francis. "These accomplishments include leading global rules modernization, the new World Handicap System, the ongoing Distance Insights project and the creation of the new USGA Foundation. In addition, Mike’s vision helped create four new USGA championships, while at the same time ensuring a renowned lineup of golf courses for all of the USGA’s championships. He has also been a strong advocate for the selection of public golf courses as U.S. Open sites.”
“During his tenure as CEO, Mike has assembled a strong, experienced leadership team, and worked collaboratively with our board to modernize and streamline the internal governance structures of the USGA, which created the space for the management team to lead the way and the Executive Committee to function primarily as a strategic board.”
The USGA Executive Committee will soon initiate a search for the next CEO, with the goal of having a candidate in place prior to the 2021 U.S. Open in June. Davis will support the onboarding of the new CEO over the subsequent months with the intent of formally departing the organization by the end of 2021.
Third round action averaged a 1.9 and 3.04 million, also the lowest on record. The previous lows were a 2.2 (2016 and 2017) and 3.20 million (2014). The telecast declined 32% in ratings and 27% in viewership from last year (2.8, 4.20M) and 24% and 19% respectively from 2018 (2.5, 3.77M).
The increase from Saturday’s third round to Sunday’s final round — just 5% — is the smallest on record for the tournament. Last year’s final round increased 57% in ratings and 74% in viewership over the third round.
NBC also averaged a 1.5 and 2.30 million for second round coverage on Friday (both -12%) and a 1.3 (-44%) and 1.96 million (-43%) for opening round action last Thursday. NBC’s weekday windows began in the afternoon, while last year’s comparable FOX telecasts aired mostly in primetime.
The USGA and R&A are so concerned about the impact of long hitting on the game that they issued a report earlier this year that said, in part, that advances in distance off the tee were threatening to ``undermine the core principle that the challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful.’’
Now they may have to update that report. It was done before DeChambeau added 40 pounds during the pandemic break and began swinging at every tee shot like Barry Bonds used to swing at baseballs.
It was impressive to some, worrying to others. The fact is, golf has always evolved, from the days of hickory shafted clubs and gutta percha balls to today’s big headed drivers and balls that fly far and stop fast. But the beatdown DeChambeau gave Winged Foot this week might have been a tipping point in the debate over just how far the evolution of the game is allowed to go.
The first was that this was a dominant performance and his final round one to remember.
The second is teachers all over the world will be telling kids who watched on television and dream one day of winning a great championship that they had better learn to hit the ball 330 yards through the air, because there is nothing surer than that’s what the next generation will routinely be playing against.
Ultimately, though, watching DeChambeau with a driver in his hand is no more thrilling than watching Nicklaus, Daly, Woods or, indeed Bobby Jones, drive the ball.
Indeed, his biggest influence on the game is not likely to be his driver; but his understanding of data, statistics, probabilities and how they relate to strategy and the best shot to play.
The key for architects is to work out how best to disrupt the data without resorting to trickery – because this week the winner showed trickery in the form of narrow fairways and long grass can be defeated by power.
A line had been drawn in the sand with Woods’s record 12-shot win, and the green jackets did something about it. Remember how they supposedly Tiger-proofed the course? Do they have enough time before the world’s best arrive in November to Bryson-proof the course Bobby Jones and Dr Alister MacKenzie created?
If Jack Nicklaus played a game Jones wasn’t familiar with, then imagine how the game’s greatest amateur would view DeChambeau’s approach?
No conversation in golf has been as heated as distance gains, and the USGA—which governs equipment regulation in this country—threw more logs into the fire when it stated in its Distance Insights report that said gains must stop. That verdict, how the USGA came to it, and where it goes from here, can be debated. But the performance of DeChambeau and Wolff and McIlroy on a course where just two players in five previous U.S. Opens have broken par is unequivocal: There is no defense against distance.
To many, Saturday afternoon sounded the alarm. In truth, the sirens rang earlier. The East Course’s ninth hole is serving as a makeshift range this week, with a net past the green guarding a parking lot. A few players have soared their drives over the de facto fence, including DeChambeau, who ended his third-round warm-up by raining balata into courtesy cars. As he walked to the first tee, the implication was clear. This course cannot contain them.
Just amazing in all of this bleak news that the numbers keep showing interest in the sport thanks to safety and increased time for participation.
From GolfDatatech and not one mention of how distance is inspiring this spike in purchases across all equipment categories.
Kissimmee, FL., September 21, 2020 … On the heels of the U.S. Open, golf’s second major of 2020, Golf Datatech, LLC, the golf industry’s leading independent market research firm for retail sales, consumer and trade trends, has announced that U.S. retail golf equipment sales for August 2020 were up nearly 32% over the same period in 2019, exceeding the previous all-time high August (2006), by 15%.
In total, U.S. golf retail equipment sales for August 2020 were $331 million, compared to August 2019, which were $251 million, and the previous record year of August 2006, which were $287 million. Additionally, five equipment categories, set all-time records for August: balls, irons, wedges, bags and gloves. Overall, golf bags were the best performing equipment category in August, up 55% vs. August 2019, while YTD bag sales are up 5%.
Not $600 drivers? Sorry, I interrupted. Continue.
“Golf Datatech started tracking golf equipment sales in 1997 and we have never seen a surge like what has happened in the summer of 2020, coming out of the worldwide shutdown from COVID-19,” said John Krzynowek, Partner, Golf Datatech, LLC. “While the overall 2020 U.S. retail golf equipment market is still down 4.1 % YTD from 2019, this spike is nothing short of remarkable considering the game and business of golf was shut down for a good part of the spring season.”
Krzynowek adds, “The August sales record, which followed an all-time record month in July, is great news for the industry moving forward. It indicates how popular golf is today, especially as an ideal social distancing activity. Newcomers are coming into the game, existing golfers are playing much more, and those who once played but left for a while are returning, which is the perfect combination to drive rounds played and spike equipment sales at retail.”
Anyway, I’m sure safety came first at all times and masks, social distancing and…yeah right.
Dethier writes about the first of two steaks for the 2020 U.S. Open Champion:
A USGA staffer asked if he wanted food and his agent ordered a steak on his behalf: filet, medium, salt and pepper.
But first, more interviews. A hit on SiriusXM. A message for Rolex. A stop-off with Barstool. The car wash!
The herd headed inside Winged Foot’s clubhouse, which is one moat away from a castle and particularly dramatic at night. One large room had been set aside as a dramatic studio; that’s where DeChambeau did a series of sitdowns: Golf Channel. The Today Show. CNN. He told some stories I’d heard before, but they had renewed meaning in this context, particularly one: When his father was battling through dialysis, they turned to Finding Nemo for inspiration. “Just keep swimming” became a family mantra.
Bryson’s clubhouse dinner was captured by Golf.com video and I must say, it’s great to see the USGA welcomed media into the clubhouse. No doubt how the state of New York chalked it up.
We caught up with @b_dechambeau after his U.S. Open victory in the Winged Foot clubhouse.
Feeling inspired by Bryson’s transformation? We asked what advice he has for others looking to revamp their games.
Dethier also writes about the celebration moving to Trump National Westchester, 20 miles away.
The afterparty was at Trump National GC Westchester, in Briarcliff Manor, some 20 miles north of Winged Foot, DeChambeau has a close relationship with the Trump family and Trump Organization Executive Vice President Larry Glick; he’s one of several pros who sports the “Trump” logo on his golf bag and has played at several of their properties.
Eric Trump played the role of host and hype man, introducing DeChambeau like a conquering hero as he entered the grill room, trophy in hand. The two most famous men in the room made for quite the side-by-side: Eric, who’s 6’5 and lanky, next to Bryson, who’s 6’1 and not.
It goes on with another steak to keep his weight up. Either way, looks like a good time was had by all…
Xander Schauffele off a fourth-straight excellent U.S. Open performance, sounds conflicted about where things are headed as he saw Bryson DeChambeau overpower Winged Foot.
Q. What are your thoughts on Bryson just in general and what he's done in transforming his body?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, he's a man of his word. I said it last night, if there's anyone that I was worried about, it was him. Everyone talked about hitting fairways out here. It's not about hitting fairways. It's about hitting on the correct side of the hole and hitting it far so you can kind of hit a wedge instead of a 6 iron out of the rough. Yeah, he's sort of trending in the new direction of golf, and he said he wanted to do everything he's doing, and yeah, happy for him. He's playing unbelievable.
This answer was especially fascinating:
Q. Going back to what you said before about Bryson,do you feel like he's revolutionizing the game?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: No. If you look at just people that have dominated, it's always been distance. Obviously, Tiger had the mix of touch and feel and everything. If you look back at he was sort of the first guy to really hit it far with those clubs. Jack hit is really far as well. All the greats hit it pretty far for the most part. It's no longer sort of a touchy-feely game. The only way to make a golf course really hard is to firm up the greens and grow the rough. It's going to make it hard for everyone, and you'd rather be the guy in the rough with a lob wedge than with an 8 iron or 7 iron. Revolutionize? Maybe he's just exposing our game in terms of, if he keeps hitting it further and further, I don't see why he wouldn't be able to win many more U.S. Opens.
If they’re hitting drives like this with a helping breeze, Winged Foot’s 9th might be drivable in 2028, 2031 or whenever Winged Foot hosts the U.S. Open again.
From the 2020 U.S. Open final round where all three players made “eagles” after video game length drives.
Bryson DeChambeau, the “short” one of the group at 374.4:
Matt Wolfe, outdrove himself from Saturday’s 377 yarder and gave himself a wedge approach Sunday after this 388.5 yard tee shot.
And without the aid of a cart path, lucky bounce or any other known assistance beyond strength, launch optimization and some roll, a 418.8-yard drive from Dustin Johnson.
These three are obviously longer than most and on NFL reserved lists as potential injury replacements at any number of positions. Still, this was a hole changed back to its original par-5 status but played like a tough four at 565 yards.
This 2020 U.S. Open post-final round comment from Rory McIlroy has been getting mostly negative reviews and I believe, incorrectly so. McIlroy posted a final round 75 to finish T8 at Winged Foot.
Q. Your golf followed from Tiger's and Tiger's followed from Faldo, Watson, and back to Nicklaus, very kind of straight line. Then you see this guy doing it completely in his own way, and I'm wondering what that says to you about the guy and about the game.
RORY McILROY: So I think -- about the guy, I think it's brilliant, but I think he's taken advantage of where the game is at the minute. Look, again, whether that's good or bad, but it's just the way it is. With the way he approaches it, with the arm-lock putting, with everything, it's just where the game's at right now.I'm not saying that's right or wrong. He's just taking advantage of what we have right now.
DeChambeau’s approach should raise questions about whether this is where the game should head. But you have to admire how he’s taken advantage of technology and put his body on the line in ways no one ever has. McIlroy seems to be saying that with his where the game “is at the minute.”
Which is also code for: where the game is because the governing bodies did not adequately anticipate many things that are happening.