Hard-charging Bryson DeChambeau gorges on calories and championships as he pushes himself and the conventional wisdom on the PGA Tour to new boundaries and beyond
Perhaps we should start by saying we’ve seen this act before.
In 1998, this scribe witnessed Mark McGwire hitting a baseball where no baseball was meant to go. The home run off Livan Hernandez crashed off the upper-deck facing in straightaway center field at Busch Stadium II.
Once a tall, slender first baseman in Oakland, McGwire averaged 28 home runs during his first 10 seasons. But, McGwire played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the summer of ’98, and he looked like Paul Bunyan. He was on his way to launching 70 home runs that year, warping sports’ most romantic record and partnering with Sammy Sosa to turn baseball into Home Run Derby.
The ball he hit that night was estimated to travel 545 feet, but that might have been the Stableford measurement. Many adjectives were used to describe it. In the end, the most appropriate was “unnatural.”
It turns out that McGwire, Sosa and others were inflating their bodies and enhancing their performance synthetically, illegal if not immoral. The idea of beefing up to hit baseballs into orbit was enticing, no question. But there remained some stumbling blocks, i.e., 95-mph fastballs and 12-to-6 curves. For most of us, the allure was far-fetched.
Fast forward to 2020 and Bryson DeChambeau. In a matter of a few months, the 6-foot-1-inch golfer has gone from 195 pounds to 240-plus. He used to look a tad like a young Marlon Brando; he now looks like a young Marlon Brando stung by a bee. Instead of “Get in the hole!” galleries might be yelling, “Get in my belly!” If there were galleries, that is.
That said, he is cracking the sound barrier with his swing speed, and hitting golf balls where they are not meant to go. DeChambeau recently turned the Rocket Mortgage Classic into a Pound, Pitch and Putt contest, averaging more than 350 yards off the tee. Many words have been spent to describe what he’s doing. But to this point, no one has insinuated it is unlawful or unnatural. Rather, DeChambeau, who will play this week’s WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational (tee times) in the runup to next week’s PGA Championship, spouts a dedication to training and a new approach to eating: “I eat whatever I want.”
Now, there’s a plan we can get behind!
Banned substances might be going too far, but burgers and fries? That’s in the wheelhouse. After all, the golf ball is not a moving target, and for most of us, putting on weight is no trouble, no trouble at all. In fact, when you see DeChambeau on a golf course, you tend to believe that Joey Chestnut is making a mistake by not Monday-qualifying. The man recently ate 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes. What does that do to your swing speed?
And what about Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers series, who claimed to eat babies? What’s the carbs-to-protein ratio on that? Somewhere in Cincinnati, a couturier for Hamilton Tailoring Co., maker of the green jackets presented to the Masters winners, lies awake at night, contemplating measurements and sweating.
Far-fetched, maybe, but as DeChambeau makes DeShambles of championship golf courses, he puts no limits on his physical build-out or the velocity of his swing. “As long as everything is growing proportionally, I really don't know how fast I can go,” he said recently. “So, I'm going to keep pushing the boundaries.”
That’s what President Abraham Lincoln said in 1864, when he officially recognized the territory of Montana.
Some suggest shape-changing and nitrous-injected swings have long-term ramifications. The joints carry more load; the back knows more torque. They question how the 26-year-old DeChambeau, who ranks seventh in the world after a recent run of seven consecutive top-10 finishes, including PGA Tour victory No. 6, will hold up in the long run. Food for thought.
But during the past five months, at a time when tons of us are jobless, furloughed, or swallowing salary cuts, Happy Winmore has made more than $4 million in eight starts. That is, his bank account is growing proportionately, thank you. To heck with the big picture. It makes more sense for “Bison” to pick up the pace on his 3,500 calories per day. You want to get crazy? Let’s get crazy.
For instance, he normally eats four eggs, five strips of bacon, toast and 2-3 Orgain protein shakes for breakfast. That’s not bad, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Let’s set the right tone: substitute chocolate malts for the protein shakes and crush a few Krispy Kremes.
During a round, the growing boy likes a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, several GoMacro bars and protein shakes every six holes. Sensible enough, but wouldn’t it move the scales more to lose the plant-based bars in favor of king-size Snickers? The carbs-to-protein ratio goes haywire, but that candy bar is fortified with 220 calories. Got to be worth a yard or two, eh?
And wouldn’t it be a good idea to carry some Cinnabon products in the bag? Nothing says swing speed like a Caramel Pecanbon.
When the round is over, DeChambeau has a “snack” and another shake. This would be a good time to introduce hot fudge and frozen custard to the body. And for dinner, DeChambeau’s itinerary features streak, potatoes and two more protein shakes. C’mon, man. Are we trying to lose weight? Throw in some onion rings, some macaroni and cheese and a good ol’ German chocolate cake – the whole German chocolate cake.
If you think DeChambeau is compromising golf courses and bombing it now, just wait. With these few dietary tweaks, 240 will quickly turn into 280, and then some. DeChambeau will be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to eat tall buildings with a single bite.
S’true, at some point, should DeChambeau go too far, distance may lose the battle with control and performance could be compromised. But, hey, no worries. Several NFL teams need help on the offensive line, and who knows? They might make another Austin Powers movie, after all.
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