AUGUSTA, Ga. — There was something about the way Bryson DeChambeau said it that made me start to wonder.
“I’m only 6’1″,” he said before one interview, when a reporter asked about his size. “Well, he’s got a couple inches on me,” he said another time, talking about a fellow Tour pro. In a third instance, DeChambeau referenced the future of the PGA Tour as golfers the size of NFL tight ends.
So I decided to ask him.
“Bryson,” I said. “Do you wish you were taller?”
His eyes widened.
“Dude, don’t even get me started,” he said. “I wish I was The Rock’s height. 6’6”, 6’7″…even Victor Perez. He’s super tall.”
He’s right: The Rock is 6’5″. Perez is 6’6″. DeChambeau has added some 40-50 pounds, he’s bulked up and he’s gained speed — but he remains 6’1″. It’s one of his great regrets.
It’s a leverage thing, he says. “I would be over 200 ball speed without even thinking about it. Look at [long drive competitor] Fast Eddie Fernandes. He’s 6’4″, something like that, and he gets 200 no problem, so easily, because of his arm length.”
DeChambeau reached his arms down, gripping an imaginary club.
“I mean, imagine if I had another five, six inches in the length of my arms,” he said wistfully.
It’s funny to hear DeChambeau talk this way about larger humans because it’s just the way DeChambeau’s fellow golfers talk about him: Impossibly, unattainably large.
“He’s just eating everything in sight and he’s working out a lot. He’s gotten huge,” said Justin Thomas, who is four inches shorter and nearly 100 pounds lighter than DeChambeau. “He’s jacked — and he’s got the frame for it, which is, again, something I don’t have.”
Xander Schauffele, who’s 5’10” and slight, calls himself “sneaky long” but doesn’t see that next gear as possible. “I’ll just play my game. I don’t have the 340 in the air covered,” he said.
The physics of DeChambeau’s claims check out. Longer levers mean greater potential leverage. A look at the PGA Tour’s longest hitters seems to show a correlation between height and length, too. But it’s not quite that simple; none of these guys are likely to play in the NBA anytime soon. Here are the top 10 longest from last year, with accompanying heights:
2019-20 Driving Distance (by height)
1. Bryson DeChambeau (6’1″)
2. Cameron Champ (5’11”)
3. Ryan Brehm (6’4″)
4. Rory McIlroy (5’9″)
5. Grayson Murray (6’1″)
6. Brandon Hagy (5’11”)
7. Jason Kokrak (6’4″)
8. Sam Burns (6’1″)
9. Matthew Wolff (6’0″)
10. Bubba Watson (6’3″)
In summary: Three golfers taller than DeChambeau, four shorter and two the same height.
But DeChambeau is less concerned with his current crop of competitors and more concerned with variables in general. He’ll continue to work on those within his control: his strength, his speed, his game plan. And he’ll continue to lament those that he can do nothing about: Gusts of wind, lies in the rough and yes, his height.
I posed the question: How much money would DeChambeau pay to be 6’4″?
“It would have to be in the millions,” he said.
Millions! Consider that calculation. It means, essentially, that DeChambeau thinks that three inches in height would significantly up his earnings potential, likely more than any other factor. It’s a hypothetical, of course: Despite DeChambeau’s determination, there’s nothing he can do to add those extra inches.
For now, at least.