R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers admitted to being “fascinated” by Bryson DeChambeau’s beefed-up approach but reiterated his belief that distance gains need to be reined in.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Slumbers said that what DeChambeau has done over the past nine months – adding upwards of 30 pounds of muscle to become the PGA Tour’s longest hitter – is “extraordinary” but cautioned that the governing bodies will eventually crack down on distance.
“Bryson, I’m fascinated by,” Slumbers said, according to the report. “I’m not sure I can remember another sportsman, in any sport, so fundamentally changing their physical shape. I can’t think of anyone. I’m thinking of some boxers, because I love boxing.
“But what is extraordinary is that Bryson isn’t the first one to put on muscle in golf. How he’s able to control the ball, with that extra power, is extraordinary. All credit to him; he’s a true athlete. But I still come back to the belief that golf is a game of skill. And we believe we need to get this balance of skill and technology right.”
Earlier this year, the R&A and USGA released the Distance Insights Report, which concluded that ever-increasing length was “detrimental to the game.” When the findings were first released, on Feb. 4, the governing bodies intended to send a set of specific research topics to manufacturers within the next 45 days, but then the sport shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. They announced in March that the next step would be delayed “until a more suitable time.”
“Once we feel that the industry is stable again – which isn’t going to be tomorrow, because we don’t know what’s going to happen over autumn and winter – we will be coming back to that issue in great seriousness,” Slumbers said, according to the report. “It’s too simple just to say change the ball. Way too simple. You can do things with the ball. But it’s the relationship between ball and club which is most important to me.”