[photo courtesy of Brandel Chamblee Hater Page on Facebook]
Brandel Chamblee is the mouthpiece of the Golf Channel. His prominent position is a testament to the belief that negativity sells. Like an O'Reilly or a Limbaugh, Brandel's job is simply to enflame, to irritate, to provoke via harshly critical opinions--often unfounded--delivered with a near-religious fervor and dogmatism.
|"Here's the problem--you don't know the history of supination. I do."|
Brandel acts as a kind of gadfly to the golf world, letting everyone know what is wrong with their golf games. His vigorous denouncements of Tiger Woods's swing over the past few years alone could fill up a book.
Since he is paid only to speak, is armed with conveniently vague and mutable swing theories, and isn't required to back up any of his claims with actual golf, he is able to ride on whatever breeze is prevailing in a given week.
So on one telecast you might catch him firing off a scathing attack about something as particular as the position of Woods's left thumb on the shaft at the top of the backswing, and on the next condemning the whole technical approach to golf and singing the praises of the natural instinctive swing of whatever journeyman happens to be swinging well that week. Whatever fits the bill in a given moment, Brandel is comfortable shouting out like gospel truth, and that's probably what's elevated him to such a prominent position.
The internet is already lousy with anti-Brandel sentiment, so to call him out is admittedly redundant. However this week, now that he has inexplicably trained his critical lens on the innocent recreational golfer via a written column on golf.com, I believe its time to take a fresh look at his nonsense.
Somehow he has found a way to look down his nose at everyone who would dare to try and improve their golf swings:
And therein lies the maddening rub: Change is like a drug that can produce wonderful, soaring highs, but also lonely, miserable lows. It’s intoxicating and irresistible, because within every golfer lies an insatiable appetite for improvement and, consequently, a deep-seeded desire to try something different, to find a new fix. (It’s likely the reason you read Golf Magazine.)A typically glib analogy. Okay, so change is this wanton and potentially destructive pursuit. What's the alternative then? Resist all change and just be happy with what you have in perpetuity? Uh... okay. Sorry, these come off like bitter ramblings of someone who doesn't actually play and has seriously lost touch. Anyone who plays golf knows it is just not possible to maintain a status quo.
|A search for Brandel's handicap turned up nothing.|
By the way does Brandel even play golf? According to the USGA, no. That's right--the most prominent critic of golf swings in America, has no official USGA handicap. Hypocrisy, some might say. But it does explain a lot.
The fix-it phenomenon permeates all levels of the game. Years ago, when I lived in San Antonio and played at Oak Hills Country Club, I frequently played with a Dr. Wilhoit. He was a 3 or 4 handicap, a lefthander with a lovely draw that was so predictable I called him Dr. Will-hook. Still, like all of us, Dr. Will-hook wanted to get better still. Having an unlimited budget to sink into this pursuit, he went to see a you-better-have-an-unlimited-budget teacher to the stars. When he returned, his formerly inside-out swing was gone and so too was the draw, replaced by an unpredictable array of misses that never coalesced into anything resembling his once-formidable game. Last I checked Dr. Will-hook had quit golf.Well maybe Dr. Wilhoit got tired of Brandel calling him that all the time and all the condescending comments about his "lovely draw". Oh I am sure that in all their rounds together Brandel had nothing but praise for the doctor's "3 or 4 handicap" game. I'm sure there was never a snarky remark about his "inside-out swing" action. Yeah. Okay.
In any case Brandel's friend's big mistake was probably thinking that money could buy himself a better golf game. But to Brandel, this is simply proof that one should never try to improve. Anyways, I don't doubt that the doctor quit playing golf... with Brandel.
Another doctor friend of mine also played at Oak Hills. He was in his 70s and regularly broke 80 but was always after me for advice: “How can I hit it longer?”, “How can I hit more greens?”, “Who’s the best teacher?” Finally, I caved and sent the doctor to the best swing doctor I knew, Harvey Pennick.
A month later I saw my friend and asked him how his lesson went. He said Harvey watched him hit 10 shots, then said, “Dr. McMahan you can beat 99 percent of the doctors in this world and that’s as good as you need to be.” Lesson over. Dr. McMahan was furious. He had driven 80 miles to Austin, and he felt Harvey was blowing him off. In fact, Harvey had employed one of his greatest teaching assets: knowing when to leave well enough alone.First of all it's spelled "Penick" you imbecile. (The man is a World Golf Hall of Fame member and only one of the most important people in the history of golf instruction. Nice job, you "editors" of golf.com.) Secondly Dr. McMahan did get blown off by Mr. Penick and had every right to be annoyed.
For my own part, I can remember two “light-bulb moments” that took my game to new heights. The first came when I was 14 and trying to learn how to hit the ball higher. I developed the sensation of “throwing the club” at the ball, flipping my wrists as fast as could I to uncock them at impact. With this thought in mind, my shots flew higher and straighter, and that imagery has never failed me since.Now this flipping-wrist business may have served a young Brandel well in getting more distance out of his puny frame and ultimately enabling him to advance towards a pro career... but even I know that this is hardly a foundation from which to pick apart other people's swing flaws, and that Brandel's better off keeping these kinds of swing thoughts private. Especially if he's going to continue loudly criticizing the methods of the world's greatest golfers and instructors. Throwing the club and flipping wrists, you have got to be kidding.
Years later, I noticed Payne Stewart started his lower-body shift toward the target as the club was still going back. I tried this and immediately began making more solid contact. Ironically, the only tournament I won on Tour, the 1998 Greater Vancouver Open, I beat Payne by three, with his lower-body move always at the fore of my mind.Hey, doesn't ironic mean when an actual outcome turns out contrary to the expected outcome? And if so wouldn't Brandel's beating Payne Stewart using one of Stewart's swing keys be not ironic but, I don't know, fitting? In any case, a simple consultation of the dictionary is in order.
|To be fair, it is possible to be a talking head and not be a douche.|
So this week, for writing a pointlessly snarky and myopic "column", and of course also in recognition of years of shit-stirring, nit-picking and general discouragement, Brandel Chamblee is the Legitimate Golf Creep of the Week.