Bryson and My Knights.

While walking Gus the other week, I was trying to analogise golf with chess. I figured, chess in principal has only two defining features; the board and the pieces. Obviously it’s played by two people, and winning and losing depends on how skilfully you move the pieces, within the boundaries. Therefore, it appears there’s a third part to chess which is easily relatable to golf, whereby skill is learnt over time and how you reflect on that feedback, will ultimately improve, or not improve, your efficacy when moving across the board against your opponent, or shooting lower scores.

Golf is identical to chess in the sense that the pieces never really change. We use the same size balls, similar arrangement of clubs (always 14), we stand roughly the same etc.. Golf also has the competitive element that chess has, as well as any sport or endeavour. Where it became blurry to me though was defining the boundaries. Chess has four sides built in, which determine many rules. Golf doesn’t have any sides, and therefore learning to be more effective in golf isn’t so clear. It dawned on me that the four sides in chess, aren’t just limitations, they’re structures which create more obvious pathways. I think, to improve in golf, you really need to build in your “four sides” if you like. Parameters, defined often by what you can’t achieve, don’t act as a limitation in golf, they act as a source of potential.

I think a quite simple example of this would be Martin Kaymer and how he got to world number one. He played a one dimensional game off the tee certainly. But within that one dimensional strategy, also lied a great strength. Being able to hit “all the golf shots” guarantees you nothing, because you take a large risk in giving up what you do automatically, and often without significant failure, all in the search for something more promising. Ones unknowable future therefore, is likely another’s past.

What’s quite interesting about Bryson DeChambeau is how he’s only mildly adapted one of the constant features of golf; his length of clubs. This is a small change when you consider the breadth of things golf incorporates. Yet, his potential for disruption, and transformation is stunning. I’m inclined to say his potential for domination is also stunning. It’s easy to say this about many things, but maybe we do have limits to how well we can do something, provided we continue to pursue those efforts in a similar manner. Bryson is ripping up just a few pages of the rule book on this front, and yet it wouldn’t be hard to envisage a time where he becomes a dominant force.

This isn’t something we should lambast. This is potentially revolutionary and we should absolutely be celebrating his form. It might be that Bryson is to golf what Sepak Takraw is to volleyball. It’s easy to lambast someone when they’re so different, but that’s often only because we see them as a threat to what we’ve become accustomed to like, or enjoy. However It’s always worth remembering that our grandchildren probably won’t care about our emotions as much as we would like them too.

(I do have some thoughts on the Saudi event, but as the tournament is still active, I don’t think it would be right to convey any thoughts just now. What I will say is that I was pleasantly surprised by a few things, but also disappointed and demotivated by others.)

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9 Responses to Bryson and My Knights.

  1. Matt says:

    Great thinking. Too often Golf find itself annoyed/threatened/shunning anything that is too different and may change the way of thinking (on a lesser extent, look at the new rules…shunned by players who don’t want to adopt them and use them as it is ‘different).
    Bryson is some fresh air, and maybe he is on to something regarding the single length of his bats….it’s just a shame that it’s considered a ‘fad’ or a ‘gimmick’.

    You don’t become one of the best amateurs in the world, and then one of the best professionals in the world with gimmicks

  2. Felix Minley says:

    looking forward to your views on the Saudi. As an avid TV viewer of the European Tour those Saudi spectator numbers are an all time low. Golf without Galleries shouldn’t be allowed. Compare these spectator numbers to the current Phoenix Open and you just can’t… Also there appeared to be many half build properties around this course. Last week the Dhabi comp should have been the last Desert Golf for this season. But like the rest of our existence in this competitive world Money is the king. Also Brooks Koepka really didn’t like those greens. Not one bit and he can seriously Putt.
    Keep up the great Blogs and good luck for the season.

  3. The Marshall says:

    So will you be following Bryson’s lead and switching to same length shafts ? My prediction is that in 20 years time this will be the norm rather than the exception, much like the switch from persimmon to man made ‘woods’.

  4. I like your “chess” comparaison scheme. I was privileged to have diner with Bryson during the Omega European Masters in my home town Crans-Montana back in 2016 and more took the initiative to follow/monitored his last round 64 win in Dubai last week as well attend his press conference where he shared with us further thoughts about the way he approach the game where he speak more about “domino” then “chess”… Hope one day we can have a chess together 😉

    You can read more here and better understand why he win in Dubai >

  5. Doug Smith says:

    Mr de Chambeau is a bit of a revelation in what is fast becoming a non-sport as the few leading players reap vast rewards often playing average shots whilst others are in danger of losing their ambition

  6. wazmn says:

    Regarding the last part – writing about an active tournament. And no mentioning of any spanish golfer, but yes: It must be very tempting to adopt a position of “what happens in Saudi Arabia stays in Saudi Arabia, and also, let’s never go back there again.”

  7. johnlramos says:

    What is this babbling bullshit? Is the person responsible for “Competition supersedes morality” supposed to be some kind of thinker? God help us.

  8. Mike says:

    Enjoyable rambles. Golf needs more reflective, thoughtful personalities. Congratulations on great performance in the Players Championship, a great evening’s tv! Also enjoyed your interview on Sky, which is what brought me to this page…refreshingly unconventional, less boring and guarded than most. I’d only add that, while it is true that improvement and performance in competitive games in general requires some degree of self-assessment and analysis, I believe the game of golf has infinitely more dimensions than chess. Finally, from my humble perspective of a once a week hacker on a pay as you play course, I worry about the longer term future of the sport. There used to be queues on the tees twenty years ago, but now we almost have the course to ourselves.

  9. Ingrid Stam says:

    Hi Eddie, Saudi all in the news again makes me wonder what your thoughts are on that country.
    Heard from others that you stated that you won’t go back, but no reasons mentioned ?
    Maybe you can’t tell ? but still haha, you’re always so honest about everything.

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