Gary Player is full of admiration for how Bryson DeChambeau has transformed his game, but reiterated that golf’s ruling bodies must implement regulations aimed at reducing the distance a golf ball can travel for the professionals..
DeChambeau, who won the US Open at the notoriously difficult Winged Foot last month, has divided opinion within the game, including his peers, over his power-hitting approach to the sport.
Player insisted he holds DeChambeau in high regard due to his dedication and expects the American to win the Masters next month at Augusta National if he has a “reasonable week”.
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“They all said, here comes the kook, here comes the scientist, but he’s been more brilliant than all of them, and there’s nothing worse than when you think you have a superior attitude to others and they actually have a superior knowledge to you,” said Player.
“He is a step above them all, and he has a phenomenally good golf swing. They all say he has a strange swing. It might look strange, but basically in pieces it’s one of the best swings a human being could have.
“This man, there’s no telling how well he can do.”
The R&A and USGA vowed earlier this year to investigate how they can combat the increases in the average hitting distances, a trend they have described as “detrimental to golf’s long-term future”.
Player, who has previously voiced his fears that many renowned courses are in danger of becoming all but “obsolete”, directed most of his angst in the direction of golf ball and equipment manufacturers.
“The only defence we have is to cut the ball back at least 50 yards, in professional golf only, not amateur golf, otherwise they’re going to make a mockery of holes”
“But what perturbs me is the golf manufacturers, particularly the golf balls, they’re reluctant to change. But all golf balls go the same distance now,” added Player, who was speaking at Aronimink Golf Club, home of this weekend’s Women’s PGA Championship, and the venue of his 1962 PGA Championship victory.
“No one golf ball goes further than the other. I’ve tried them all. They’re not allowed to go further. So, if we cut the balls back further, 50 yards, it’s not going to affect their sales.
“So, we must cut the ball back, and it will happen. As sure as I’m standing here, it will happen, otherwise they’re going to make a mockery of these golf courses, and we cannot make them longer because we’re running out of water.”
Player conceded there was nothing iconic venues such as Augusta could do to defend themselves against the bigger hitters.
“You cannot defend yourself anymore. There’s no defence,” he said.
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“Look at the rough at the US Open. The average golfer there would take a sand wedge to get out. DeChambeau takes a four iron out of there. There’s no defence anymore.
“The only defence we have is to cut the ball back at least 50 yards, in professional golf only, not amateur golf, otherwise they’re going to make a mockery of holes. They will drive the first hole at Augusta. To me that’s quite sad.”
Player, who is one of only five players to have won golf’s career Grand Slam, added: “So I don’t know where we’re going. And leave the game for the amateurs. Let them enjoy it. They’re the heart of the game, not the professionals, as so many people like to think.
“But we’ve got to do something about professional golf to bring the game back a level or two.”
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