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Pros roundtable: On DeChambeau, COVID-19 and who helps when swing needs tune-up

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 28, 2020

We check in often with area pros here at golf column headquarters, but it’s been way too long since our last pros roundtable.

We fix that with the first roundtable of the season as Qualchan’s Mark Gardner, Palouse Ridge’s Jeremy Wexler and Hayden Lake’s Matt Bunn discuss Bryson DeChambeau’s impressive U.S. Open victory, the challenges of COVID-19 and to whom they turn when their game hits a rough patch.

Bryson DeChambeau overpowered Winged Foot for a 6-stroke victory in the U.S. Open, validating his unique philosophies on training and style of play. Do you expect others, pros all the way down to juniors, will try to emulate DeChambeau?

Gardner: DeChambeau’s success won’t change much with juniors because they love to swing it hard and hit it a long way. Professionals will experiment with some of his successes and see what fits in their game.

Wexler: Often you see youngsters inspired by the next “big” thing, pun intended, especially when they are in the leader category. We will see. What Bryson is doing will be hard to emulate. It’s not just the muscle gain or even the science with which he works, it’s his mental fortitude that is shining right now.

Bryson did not lead in any category at the U.S. Open except total strokes gained. Well, he did have two eagles where all other competitors only had one or none.

Bunn: Bryson has found a way to play that benefits his strengths. According to the stats, I believe at least one other player in the field was longer than Bryson. Majors and especially the U.S. Open are about patience and staying calm. Bryson has won a U.S. Amateur so he knows what to expect from the USGA and course setup.

I’m not sure that a teaching methodology or lifestyle that Bryson has used would work for the masses. As a teacher/coach, we have to work with the individual to make their strengths better and improve their weaknesses.

Should those in charge of golf’s rules do anything to put the brakes on the power game and 350-yard plus drives?

Wexler: Hitting the golf ball far is fun!

Bunn: I think putting brakes on the power game would be a mistake. Those players have a unique skill set and should not be robbed of that. In my opinion it would be like letting some MLB players use a different bat than others or making a basketball player have a different height hoop.

Gardner: I do think the golf ball needs to be scaled back on the distance. The driver has hit the limits but the ball could reduce the distances the player hits it.

What’s been the biggest challenge at your course in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Bunn: The biggest challenge has been keeping people safe. Monitoring employees and players has probably been the biggest challenge. The cleaning measures from the golf shop, cart and range equipment has really kept us busy.

Gardner: Our biggest challenge has been educating the new players that have shown up this year. Because we were so limited on recreational activities we have an increase of new players, which is great, but not all of them know the rules and etiquette of golf.

Wexler: We have many new protocols in place to ensure the safety of our guests and staff. From an operational viewpoint, tee sheet capacity. Carts are included in our rates at Palouse Ridge. At one point only single riders were allowed. Then sharing of carts among households followed. After that, sharing was allowed outside of households but protocols stated not mandatory. We have to block the tee sheet accordingly in order not to run out of carts.

Amateurs often seek lessons or counsel from pros to improve their game. To whom do you look for guidance when one phase of your game goes a little south?

Gardner: When I have issues with my game I usually grab one of our professionals here at Qualchan and have them watch a few swings.

Wexler: There are some good books out there. Sometimes it is as simple as the guys you play with. They may notice something in your swing, setup, etc., that is different than normal. Finding another golf professional you trust is always a noble option.

Bunn: When I’m struggling with my game I have a fellow professional, Randy Henry, take a look at my motion.

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