Bryson DeChambeau is a magnet for coverage and controversy these days, with almost every comment met with suggestion that the origin of negative coverage is distaste for the American.
This column will likely be met with much the same reaction, and while there are elements to Bryson that are personally not to my tastes, overall I certainly see him as good for the game.
The 2020 US Open champion has pushed golf into the mainstream media via his bulked up physique and long drives, as well as his ongoing spat with Brooks Koepka and his own social media and YouTube content spread far and wide. And attention on the game is unquestionably a good thing.
But at a point, DeChambeau’s antics benefitting the game via increased attention might hurt his own performance. And even life outside of golf.
Watching DeChambeau’s press conference on Tuesday at The Open, one couldn’t help notice the occasionally irritable major winner was on edge the moment he walked into the interview room and his intense and occasionally heated responses did nothing to dissipate such a thought. Nor heighten any expectations for his chances this week at the major he has struggled with most.
It was a question from Golf Australia magazine columnist John Huggan that best displayed DeChambeau on tenterhooks after an intense period of tournament play and attention.
“I do shout fore. I don't know what you're talking about. There are plenty of people on the tee box that do shout fore. You're bringing up a very controversial thing, which is unfortunate, but 99 percent of the time I do, and unfortunately people think I don't. But that's okay, they can say whatever they want,” DeChambeau snapped when questioned about his widely noted reluctance to make the crowds down the fairway aware he has hit a wayward drive.
"An admission that he has at times not given forewarning of incoming projectiles and a hope to be better in the future would have left those looking to write off Bryson as the bad guy with nothing to run with." – Jimmy Emanuel.
Being accused of endangering other human beings unsurprisingly elicited a tense response, and the subsequent stare down of the questioner from the stage.
However, DeChambeau’s defence of himself calling 99 percent of the time was not proved accurate at the U.S Open at Torrey Pines, while that statement is completely opposed to his assertion that he didn’t know “what you’re talking about”.
Humans make mistakes, and despite hitting the golf ball longer than his fellow members of the species, DeChambeau is human. An admission that he has at times not given forewarning of incoming projectiles and a hope to be better in the future would have left those looking to write off Bryson as the bad guy with nothing to run with. But in what seems to be the norm for Bryson, he chose the confrontational approach and attempted to alter the widely held narrative.
Similarly, Bryson has been bullish on his split with long-time caddie Tim Tucker on the eve of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, where DeChambeau missed the weekend and declined to speak with the press despite the title sponsor being one of his own many financial supporters.
An exclusive interview with a media outlet he has an arrangement in place with and other very short comments that Tucker had indicated he was preparing to hang up his yardage book is well and good. But no one who has been around professional golf for more than a minute would believe it was all friendly when the break-up happens on tournament eve.
Again, an honest admission that something unexpected had occurred and caused DeChambeau to pull a Tour rep from the Cobra equipment truck to carry his sticks for the week would of course garner attention, but primarily endear the right-hander to most courtesy of his honesty.
Returning to his comments at Royal St. George’s, a long-winded response to whether public comments hurt him included references to his active social media accounts and YouTube series that offer an insight into his life.
“I think that's why for me I've done a lot on social media, done a lot of YouTube series to showcase myself in a different light because I want people to see that side. I think there's a lot of greatness to that and also humbleness to that, as well. Showcasing that I am human and I did start pretty much from nothing,” DeChambeau said.
These are worthy reasons to allow people an insight into his life, but to suggest that the videos heavily featuring sponsors products don’t benefit his own profile, or those associated with him, at all is an attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes at best, and disingenuous at worst.
Once more, trotting out one particular element does little to silence any of the negative views spouted around every corner of the internet, and particularly golf Twitter.
"Surely someone in the DeChambeau camp has suggested he attempt to quash the storyline, and cease from engaging in it. Because, put simply, he has taken on an entity in Koepka who is better at the schoolyard mud-slinging than he is."
The question of hurt created by others’ words included the name Brooks, because just about every second question to Bryson these days does since both have engaged in a war of words and social media posts.
The so-called “feud” has ignited interest in golf and the two protagonists beyond regular observers, and while we have all enjoyed some of the back and forth it appears to be doing nothing for Bryson when it comes to his job, which is playing golf. A pursuit he has dedicated a complete overhaul of his physical make-up to in the past 18 months and countless hours.
Surely someone in the DeChambeau camp has suggested he attempt to quash the storyline, and cease from engaging in it. Because, put simply, he has taken on an entity in Koepka who is better at the schoolyard mud-slinging than he is.
Whatever your thoughts on Brooks’ locker stuffing jock-like antics, he has consistently proven himself to be more skilled at publicly baiting his target than Bryson.
Koepka uses social media with the deft touch of an upset ex trying to tarnish the reputation of their former flame. Just ask Brandel Chamblee.
Offering free beer to hecklers, celebrating “caddie appreciation day” when news broke of the DeChambeau/Tucker split and posting a photo of his four major trophies in response to a Bryson comment about his lack of abs are just some of the examples of Koepka’s supreme trolling of his compatriot.
The dislike between the two isn’t going anywhere, despite Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker perhaps wishing it would, but simply not engaging in it further would be advisable for DeChambeau. Or perhaps taking the Tiger Woods approach and waiting till after producing a superior performance on the course to stick the knife in. See Ames, Stephen and Ancer, Abraham.
Bryson is of course his own person and can do as he wishes. And no one outside his inner circle can claim to know exactly what is going on. But at least from the exterior, the current approach to these issues and criticism of him is doing him no favours.
And for the good of his own game and the game of golf generally it would be nice to see him change tact and let his clubs and immense talent shine.
As he knows, and most others would agree, DeChambeau at the top of his game serves golf and its popularity extremely well.