It was a weekend dominated by watching sports, mostly on the TV.

Friday night we went to an (outdoor) fundraiser that a high school friend of S’s was throwing. This is her pal who nearly died of Covid back in April. He brought together a few well-connected friends he has (one is an NBA player) to throw a neighborhood concert that would raise money for families that were struggling with expenses because of Covid-related hospital stays.

It was a perfect fall night, the first Friday night this season you had to throw a jacket on to be outside. It would have been great to be at a high school football game. But the concert was fun. There were a lot of St P’s families there. We hung with a few of S’s high school friends. We very briefly met the NBA player.

Throughout the night we were following the CHS game. They were playing the #8 large class team from Ohio. Last year the two teams went to overtime with St X winning. This year CHS won by three, getting a late interception as St X was driving for a potential tying/winning score. They are now 5–0.

Sunday I watched some chunks of the Colts game. They looked pretty good despite losing three more important players to injuries. Since key players getting injured seems to be a trend around the league, I’m starting to think the healthiest team in January will be the true Super Bowl favorite. I caught the end of the Dallas-Atlanta game, which was just stupid. Then again, if any team knows how to blow an un-blowable lead, it is the Falcons. We had dinner plans so missed the late games and the first half of the night game, although what I did get to see of the Pats-Seahawks game was highly entertaining.

I watched most of the fourth quarter of the Lakers-Nuggets game, and that was absolutely terrific drama!

I missed some NFL during the day because I watched C cheer at the St P’s cadet football game. She had told me the team wasn’t very good, which is saying something since she knows nothing about football. But they were playing another allegedly bad team so there was hope. After a scoreless first quarter parents were mumbling about a 0–0 tie. But St C found a huge weakness in the St P’s defense, forced four turnovers, and won 22–0. It’s painful watching bad middle school teams try to play football. Most of the kids are too small to tackle. The offenses suck. The defenses are terrible. The parents are constantly complaining. Granted, all middle school sports are kind of a train wreck. But football seems a little extra bad. I had this thought two years ago when M cheered: how on earth are all the Catholic high schools around here good-to-great at football when CYO football is soooo bad?

Most of my weekend sports time was devoted to watching hours and hours of the US Open. Which was terrific…until Sunday. I am not a Bryson DeChambeau fan. Which is a shame because he’s a remarkable player and just had a legendary performance in the final round of a major. But he’s both insufferable and generally full of shit, which makes it very hard to get onboard with him. I wish I could like him, because he is very much about doing things different than what conventional wisdom suggests, which is something that golf needs. But his personality is soooooo grating that I can’t get over it.[1]

He’s definitely the future of PGA golf, though, and us haters are going to have to get used to him. Even if he doesn’t dominate the way Tiger in his prime did, more and more golfers are going to begin following his path of bulking up to chase speed and distance. Even if he isn’t always winning, golfers who resemble him both physically and in their game will.

I’m not sure that’s great. Anyone who plays golf wants to it as far as they possibly can. But Bryson makes a mockery of courses, even ones that have been stretched out and allegedly toughened up to fight the big bombers like him. It’s clear that superintendents, the PGA Tour, and USGA have no idea how to set up courses to prevent distance from being such a huge factor without making them impossible to play for the guys who don’t hit it 300+ with the driver. And the PGA/USGA don’t want to piss off the equipment manufacturers but putting greater limits on either driver size or performance, or taking some juice out of the ball (or putting spin back into it). Golf writer Andy Johnson has been saying for some time that golf is headed where men’s tennis went a decade ago, when racquets got so hot that long rallies disappeared and matches became, essentially, serving contests. The ATP did take some juice out of the tennis ball a few years ago. I don’t watch enough tennis to know if that has made much of a difference.

I don’t know what the right answer for golf is. The sport has a long history of the pros and weekend duffers being able to play the exact same equipment on the exact same courses. When the pro game begins to turn into a completely different sport, where long and middle irons aren’t needed anymore, it may be time to re-examine that relationship and whether the pros should be forced to play scaled-back equipment.

As much as I dislike Bryson, I can’t help but be impressed with how rapidly he has changed both his body and his game. Just over a year ago he said he wanted to gain a bunch of weight to help him swing faster and harder. He gained a solid chunk during the brief winter off-season, and then another chunk during the lockdown. He’s something like 40 pounds heavier than he was a year ago. The gains in his game were immediately apparent. But a lot of people, me included, didn’t think he could manage to hit the ball insanely far and keep it relatively straight. He will occasionally go off the rails a little, but it is utterly remarkable how well he controls the ball off the tee. When he turned pro he was not a good putter. Since the restart he’s been putting incredibly well. His wedges were always his issue. Suddenly in the last month they’ve turned into a plus rather than a minus. Someone on Twitter today pointed out that Rory McIlRoy has been trying to figure out his wedges and putter for five years. Bryson apparently fixed them in less than a calendar year. Insane.

It was also a little disappointing that the tournament didn’t turn into the usual absolute carnage that the US Open is famous for. There were big numbers, to be sure, and only two players were at par or better. But it didn’t feel like the disaster so many Opens of the past have been. And when I say disaster I mean in a good way for the viewer. I love watching the pros look like me, battering the ball from one side of the rough to the other, or having no idea where it will end up thanks to course conditions. Bryson and the other young bombers out there may have ended that era.

  1. It doesn’t help, for me, that he’s a big supporter of our president. Which, to be fair, most pro golfers are and I don’t count it against a lot of them. But when you already dislike someone, that just makes it worse.  ↩