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.)