At the end of the month, the big-hitting world #6 Bryson DeChambeau will make history when he becomes the highest-ranked player ever and first full-time PGA Tour pro to compete in the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship in Mesquite, Nev. The thought of competing against the longest drivers in the world has been a goal of DeChambeau’s since he started training for more distance. Now, after receiving approval to participate in the competition from the PGA Tour, DeChambeau has officially accepted a special invitation and plans to take the plunge Sept. 27-Oct. 1, that's right, exactly the day after the Ryder Cup ends...
DeChambeau leads the PGA Tour in driving distance at 321.5 yards, but will need to dig deep to be competitive against the world’s best long drivers, who can hit bombs in excess of 450 yards. Bryson isn’t giving up his day job for a life on the long drive circuit; his Tour goals are still his top priority. But there’s something about going head-to-head against other golfers, driver in hand, that brings DeChambeau immense satisfaction.
“It’s more of an arena environment with massive speakers pumping music and energy drinks to get you amped up,” DeChambeau told GOLF.com at the Tour Championship, two weeks after his session in North Carolina. “We’re going up against the next guy. It’s not necessarily playing against the golf course; I’m trying to be faster than that guy. It’s a head-to-head competition, which I personally like and enjoy.
DeChambeau has aspirations of competing at the highest level in both arenas, which is why he’s been increasing his speed training sessions and making trips to remote parts of North Carolina to go through “two-a-days” — two 90-plus-minute speed training sessions in the same day — and glean insights from other members of the long drive community at Bobby Peterson’s One Stop Power Shop. (It’s hard not to think of Rocky getting ready for Drago in the wilds of Siberia.)
“Inside that metal building, there’s endless amounts of knowledge about equipment, as well as the technique, emotions and adrenaline that go into long drive,” DeChambeau said. “You’re talking about maxing out PR’s [personal records] in the gym. It’s the same sort of thing you do with speed training. When you hit that new number, everybody goes nuts. It’s just a cool environment to be a part of.”
While the long drive atmosphere might be a getaway of sorts for DeChambeau, it’s proving to be equally as grueling (mentally and physically) as his Tour gig — if not more so. The tape on his hands from his speed training sessions is proof that he’s pushing himself to new limits to gain more speed.
“It’s totally different from the environment on Tour. I appreciate and respect that environment, but the long drive environment is tailored more to what I like to do because you can say things and do things that are a little different than out here.”
“My hands are wrecked from it,” DeChambeau said as he showed off calluses on his palms. “People don’t realize how difficult long drive really is. In golf, it’s the one thing where you can judge your accomplishments by a number. Not necessarily by going out and playing golf, because you can catch a sprinkler head or catch a bad break or bad wind. On Flightscope, you can see the ball speed number. And when you obtain a ball speed number, it’s so different and unique. It’s like a shot-putter shot-putting a new record number. You’re trying to find that full potential to break through.”
Unlike the rest of his Tour peers who were focused solely on winning the FedEx Cup and making a last-ditch effort to impress U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker, DeChambeau has been juggling an extra ball since he announced his involvement in the long drive event, becoming the first full-time PGA Tour pro to compete in Nevada.
Creds: Jonathan Wall