Don’t try to go the distance — you’re a far cry from Bryson’s length

Stop trying to run with the big dogs.

You’re barking up the wrong tee.

And, yes, I mean tee, not tree. There is a new pandemic running rampant through our great game: DeChambeau Disease. Everyone wants to Be Like Bryson.

Including Rory McIlroy.

After bombing out of The Players Championship, missing the cut by 10 shots even though he led the field in driving distance, McIlroy admitted that the disease has destroyed him.

The other pros all see what DeChambeau is doing, including hitting his tee shot over a massive lake on a par-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. They’re not stupid. They see what an advantage that is. They also see how much fans are drawn to it.

Not only can Bryson boldly attack holes in ways that no one ever has before, he can excavate his ball out of impossible rough because he stands so upright and is so ridiculously strong.

It brings to mind something that has happened to me in recent years. Here’s the scenario:

Back in the day, I was known as Kong. I regularly hit it 300 yards. A friend (maybe I should use that term loosely) once threw a banana at me as I was preparing to hit on the first tee. Playing partners joked that I tried to hit trouble shots through the trees – not around them, but right through their trunks.

I still hit it fairly big – about 280 to 290 off the tee when I catch one, according to the machine when I was fitted for my driver. When I’m 150 yards from the green, I’m still trying to decide whether to hit a full 9-iron or feather an 8. That’s not bad for my age.

But then I get paired with someone younger who hits it farther, someone who can generate more swing speed than I ever dreamed of, and I lose all sense of reality.

Now my swing is approaching light speed. Now it truly is a blur with a loop on top. The duck hooks and the pushes into the next fairway are a predictable result.

They pull a 7-iron on a par-3, and I want to pull a 7-iron on a par-3 when I know it should be a 6 or even a 5. It is the golf equivalent of trying to keep up with the Joneses.

I know better. You do, too.

The reality, instead, is this: I am a much better player than I was 40 years ago because I swing more under control, I trust my swing more and I have a better touch. I don’t need to hit it so far. I need to keep it boring and just try to keep it in play. That’s when I have a good day.

You can conduct a similar reality check on yourself. When you go to the range, don’t look at the stall next to you and think, “I can hit it with that guy.” Forget that guy. Concentrate on hitting a target on the range. Concentrate on tempo and turning properly and finishing high. Concentrate on the right things, not the distance derby.

It’s fine to turn on the TV and marvel at what DeChambeau can do. It’s entertaining. I find myself getting as charged up as he is as he takes those furious practice swings, waggles the club and then raises it ever so slightly as he prepares to unleash all that power.

Good for him. He’s revolutionizing the game. There are bound to be more like him out there.

But we can’t do that. We need to play from the white tees, not the blues. We need to keep the ball in play and focus on what’s right for our game.

It comes down to this: Be like you. Because that’s what you’ve got. You. And forget the big dogs. You never could run with them, so don’t try now. It only will bite you in the long run.  

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