Brute Force Wins at Wingfoot

Just like the Presidential Election in 2016, the pundits were wrong about the U.S. Open. Everyone was saying you can’t win a U.S. Open, especially at Wingfoot Golf Course, unless you hit your drive in the fairway. The course was long and tight and the primary rough was 3.5 inches tall.

Bryson DeChambeau, who has worked out to gain forty pounds of muscle in the off-season, said from the very beginning he was going to attack the course and swing for the fences. His strategy worked. he was the only golfer to shoot under par for the four days, and at six under, he bested the field by six shots. He did this by hitting only 23 of 56 fairways but averaging 325 yards off the tee, a record for a U.S. Open. As good as his long game was, his short game of putting and chipping was even better and he played the whole tournament without a double bogey. Cudos to Bryson. If he played the tournament again he probably would not get as lucky, but how do you combat a physical specimen like DeChambeau if you really want the winner of the U.S. Open to shoot par or higher?

I’ve played in waist high rough in Texas to where you need a sickle to get the ball out of the grass. Since it isn’t legal to use a sickle, I took the heaviest club I had, a sand wedge, and chopped it out fifty yards. You could shorten the course to give more golfers a chance to win, but the USGA doesn’t want the winning score to be -20, so why not design some holes with a water hazard in the driving range of of the longest hitters so everyone hits their second shot from approximately the same location? Of course that wouldn’t make for a very interesting tournament. Jack Nicklaus may have the answer. He suggests tweaking the equipment so the ball will only travel a certain distance, like putting a governor on a race car.

The next Major Tournament, The Masters in Augusta, Georgia, will be fun to watch. It’s a much tamer course with little rough but very difficult greens, putting a premium on the SHORT game. The defending champion is Tiger Woods, but many eyes will be on Bryson DeChambeau.