Babe Ruth changed baseball with the long ball, and DeChambeau also forces his rivals to backpedal as he swings for the fences
The envy and criticism aimed at Bryson DeChambeau from his fellow tour pros is frankly astonishing, and truly embarrassing.
Most prominently, Rory McIlroy evidenced sour grapes after the U.S. Open, and now Matthew Fitzpatrick is complaining Friday at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship (“Bryson DeChambeau offers to help critic measure up,” Oct. 12). “In my opinion, it’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way. . . . It just makes a bit of a mockery of the game.”
I offer two words for the envious crybabies: Babe Ruth.
The Babe set baseball’s single-season home-run record in 1919 when he swatted 29. And then the next year, he hit 54 home runs, which was more than any otherteam hit in the American League that year. His power was prodigious, and no one had seen its likes before.
Was Ruth simply an unskilled bomber? Not exactly. In fact, his career batting average was a whopping .342. No mere banger was he.
Fellow PGA Tour pros criticizing DeChambeau is akin to the singles hitters back in the 1920s complaining about Babe Ruth. The Babe changed the game. Baseball did not change to try to thwart Ruth. In fact, baseball embraced him. He put a lot more fannies in the seats. Yankee Stadium was called “The House That Ruth Built.”
And Ruth begat other power hitters: Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, et al. Baseball moved forward. It did not try to restrain Ruth in an effort to return to the pre-Ruth status quo.
Did milers whine that Roger Bannister was faster than everyone else? Maybe we should lengthen the swim lane for the world’s fastest swimmer so the also-swams can be more competitive.
Golf should not go backwards. DeChambeau is going to lead a revolution, as long as he combines power with skill. If Fitzpatrick thinks he can figure out how to hit the ball farther and be able to dig it out and get it into the hole faster than anyone else, who is stopping him? The same with the other complainers.
I understand their fear. They are about to be run over by inexorable progress. Big, strong, coordinated and skillful players are the future, if not already the present. DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff are the vanguard, but there will be others. Fitzpatrick can adapt, if he is able, or he will be passed.
So, either bulk up and get longer while still maintaining accuracy and being a great putter (if you can), or keep on complaining and do what you have been doing and hope for the best and hang on as long as you can before the new/next wave of better athletes and golfers overtakes you.
The old paradigm of “hit fairways and greens,” which heretofore allowed your Punches and Judys to be competitive, is over.
Did you know that DeChambeau ranked 26th in fairways hit in winning the 2020 U.S. Open? And when McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open, he was longer than everyone else and ranked, coincidentally, 26th in fairways hit?
If all it took to win the U.S. Open were prodigious length, why aren’t the World Long Drive champions playing – much less winning – on the PGA Tour? Wolff averaged longer drives than DeChambeau at the U.S. Open. DeChambeau is very handy around and on the greens, in case that has escaped notice.
Nobody loves a whining crybaby. It’s unfortunate that DeChambeau is not a warm-and-fuzzy public figure. Since DeChambeau arrived on the PGA Tour in 2016, he has been the subject of many slings and arrows because he is different. Because he is cerebral. Because he refuses to be bound by golf convention. And now because he is better than anyone else.
Is it hyperbolic at this early juncture of his career to lump DeChambeau with Babe Ruth? Yet, the comparison is not silly, either. Each changed his game. Each leapfrogged “singles hitters” by using power, but also with skill.
I hope that DeChambeau is fueled by the envy, and I am certain that he will inspire current and future golfers to follow his lead, if they are able.
Peter S. Kaufman
Maybe golf needs a place on the scorecard for artistic impression
Matthew Fitzpatrick didn't hold back in his comments about Bryson DeChambeau, saying that his driving distance is making “a mockery of the game” and “It's not a skill to hit the ball a long way” (“Bryson DeChambeau offers to help critic measure up,” Oct. 12). There also was a little whining about it somehow not being fair. “I drove it brilliantly” (and missed the cut at the U.S. Open).
It's an interesting take, but the question I have is, What is “the game”? What is the point of a golf competition? I always thought it was to get your ball in the hole with the fewest number of strokes. As they say, there are no pictures on the scorecard.
Fitzpatrick, and many others, including writers and correspondents on Morning Read, seem to think there should be. Perhaps golf should adopt features of figure skating and diving. The judges only gave that drive a 6, which means he will receive a one-stroke penalty for failing to achieve the field average of 8. Or, That was an elegant pitch from the rough, receiving a 10 from the judges, which means it is considered holed even though it ran off the green.
Yes, golf would be better then. Elegance of swing, curving the ball left and right to demonstrate finesse and the flowing putting stroke; those are the things that count. The idea that the low score made with inelegant caveman swings and methods should win is so 20th century. Those swing-elegance judges will make sure it takes more than the low score to win golf tournaments.
By the way, if Fitzpatrick thinks that hitting the ball prodigious distances does not require any skill, I'm not clear why he just doesn't do it and quit whining.
St. Paul, Minn.
A deeper meaning
When I read or hear something along the lines of I’m not racist, but.. . ., my radar starts going off (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Oct. 9).
For example, the American fans who prefer to watch players “from their own country” and then list only white players, ignoring Danielle Kang, the Asian-American ranked third in the world (only one American ranks ahead of her), it seems reasonable to question their plea.
Subtle, yes, but these “micro-aggressions” are evidence that virtually all of us – especially older, golf-watching generations – harbor degrees of racism. We just rarely think about it or own that truth.
I’m not trying to pick a fight, because I’m as guilty as the next 63-year-old of making “jokes” in an urban or foreign accent. Fortunately, I don’t hear my children doing the same thing.
Almost all social norms and behaviors exist on a continuum. And we’ll always need something such as comedy, an essential release by which we can make fun of the fact that we haven’t yet evolved enough to be without prejudice, even when we watch professional golf.
‘These girls are good’
Nope, the LPGA does not need a star (“In bid for equality, women’s golf lacks a transcendent star,” Oct. 9).
Just keep telling the story that these girls are good, and they are.
The top 10 not only can play, but anyone can win every
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