‘I did not black out, but I came very close’: Inside Bryson’s distance chase
Bryson DeChambeau, shortly before Christmas, at the home of his swing coach, Chris Como, hits a drive into a net, and his clubhead speed is shouted out. Another drive, another shout. AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” plays in the background in the video circulated on social media. Before another drive, DeChambeau bounces on his feet like a boxer before a bout, wipes his forehead and grunts. Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” is now playing. “Come on,” someone says. “Come on.” He hits, then he shouts. Before the video ends, one more hit and one more shout.
The songs, apparently, are apropos.
Thunderstruck. Last PGA Tour season, after a stretch where he added around 40 pounds, DeChambeau led the Tour in driving distance with a record 322.1-yard average. So far this season, he’s at 337.8.
Till I Collapse. In the background at Como’s house are world long drive champion Kyle Berkshire and golf social media sensation Garrett Clark. For about a week, they hit with DeChambeau. How, DeChambeau asked Berkshire, could he hit farther?
“A lot of it has to do with pushing the limits of your body and going for long hours of swinging your golf club with a golf ball and trying to help up the ball speed,” DeChambeau said Thursday after his first round at the Tournament of Champions. “There are points where, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a runner’s high or something like that where you get these extra endorphins, and that’s kind of what breaks your neurological CNS [central nervous system], I guess, is what breaks your nervous system down, which is a great thing. And over time, as you keep building it and you keep pushing it and pushing it, just keeps going up and up.
“So that’s kind of a basic principle of what he’s done. He’s just overworked his CNS like a madman, and he’s shown me some really cool techniques that have allowed me to sustain speed on the golf course.”
How hard has Berkshire pushed it?
“He said: Until I black out,” DeChambeau said.
How hard has DeChambeau pushed it?
“There were times where I was seeing a tunnel, and I had to stop,” he said. “I mean, you just have to stop. That’s about when you stop. There’s a lot to it.”
Did he ever black out?
“No, no, no,” DeChambeau said. “I did not black out, but I came very close, just like he did. He did the same.”
Before the Tournament of Champions, DeChambeau told Golf Channel that he hoped to reach 207 to 210 mph ball speed with his drives, a number that’s never been reached on Tour. He said as much Thursday, too. Berkshire told DeChambeau said it won’t come until maybe 2022.
“He’s like, I think you can get there within a year, year and a half if you keep pushing the boundaries,” DeChambeau said. “Now, the difference is I got to keep playing golf, right? I got to keep trying to play my best. I got to putt, got to chip, and all that, whereas he had time to just go at it with the driver, and he made a gain of 8 miles an hour in a year. I mean, I think I can get a baseline average of probably 4 to 5, so it’s probably going to be a year and a half, hopefully, if I keep doing the right things and I’m healthy.”
Healthy. That last word is not least. As he’s pushed his distance to new heights, he’s pushed his body to new weights. DeChambeau said he and trainer Greg Roskopf “have a system where working out actually fixes all the stuff, which is amazing.” The danger, he said, is worth the distance.
“I’m OK with taking on that risk,” DeChambeau said. “I feel like I’ve got somebody that can help fix me if something goes wrong. And when it does, because it will go wrong, I can go and see him and get everything fixed. …
“And so this is going to be a process and the risk versus the reward, I don’t know, but I know that the risk in taking it, I can always fall back into a safe haven with Greg and what we have worked on and figured out.”