Why length will always be key for tour pros
Marcus Mohr on the Bryson effect and how the game has changed so radically
If you look back on the history of the game a lot of the greats have hit it enormous distances; Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were such big hitters and Greg Norman drove the Balata ball amazingly with the four screws in the face of a Persimmon driver.
If you can hit it very far in one shot then most of the challenge of a hole is out of the way. Most bunkers are up to 310 yards so if you can fly that then there's a good chance of no more real trouble. Then you are left with less club and I'd definitely rather have a wedge from the rough than an 8-iron from the fairway.
Bryson DeChambeau has followed a strategy called Decade which has been put together by Scott Fawcett in the States – he’s very stats based and analytical and he does it without stepping foot on the course but by poring over Google Earth and the tour’s ShotLink data. And the easiest way to gain strokes on the field is hitting it past everyone and hitting driver a lot and more often.
When I was 19 I couldn’t swing it past 100mph, now at a tournament I would be 118-120 with a fastest of 128. Everyone is measuring ball speed now and the average is 160mph, mine is 175 and Bryson is 200. I'm not short nor am I one of the longest with the driver but I do hit my irons a relatively long way – for example I hit my 7-iron 180 yards on a regular day and that is 8-10 yards longer than tour average.
For me golf is the skill of hitting the ball straight to a target. The skill is taken out when hitting it 400 yards, that is force, strength and power rather than skill and DeChambeau has taken the skill out of the game with the long stuff. What's great about his game is that he is also very skilful in the other areas of the game.
At Augusta everyone was talking about what clubs he would be hitting to certain holes and, when he hit it great, he destroyed a couple of holes but when his confidence dropped his ball speed dropped 25mph. It was as if he was almost bullied by the psychology of the game.
That's not to say that doesn't deserve everything he gets as it’s so hard to change the speed that you were given as a human. I've trained for 12 years lifting weights and speed training and I've put on 22mph clubhead speed and now I’m 30 I'm approaching my strongest years but it's also about being efficient and hitting the ball out the middle so you have the correct spin loft to go through the air.
If a hole meets certain parameters and there is 50 yards between the out of bounds and a hazard then I'll be hitting driver 99/100 unless I'm swinging it really badly. And if there is a bunker at 300 yards and the conditions are right then I’ll send it over it if I hit it out the middle which I never thought I would be saying 10 years ago.
Even if I wasn't a golfer I'd still be in the gym a lot and my winter plan now is to do specific stuff and work on my vertical power. So when you are halfway down in your swing you will squat into the ground and then you actually jump up and the legs straighten through impact if you're a long hitter. So that would be dead lifts and squats and then work on your more explosive stuff.
I want to put weight on as mass moves mass and it helps to be a bit heavier. Some long guys do it with long levers but I've not got that so I'll do it with body mass.
In an ideal world I'd prefer the driver to be smaller with less of a sweet spot smaller so there is more emphasis on the strike as everyone drives it well these days.