Bryson DeChambeau latest to call for golf reunification: 'It needs to happen fast'

DORAL, FL - APRIL 03: Professional golfer Bryson DeChambeau takes questions from the media during a press conference at LIV Golf Miami on April 3, 2024, at Trump National Doral Miami in Doral, FL. (Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Bryson DeChambeau takes questions from the media during a press conference at LIV Golf Miami. (Michele Eve Sandberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

We’re going to start by explaining a comedy bit here, which is usually inadvisable, but you’ll see why in a moment. There’s a bit in the TV series “I Think You Should Leave” where a wienermobile crashes through a store wall. After the smoke clears, everyone in the store wonders what just happened … including a man in a suspiciously relevant hot dog costume.

It’s become a popular meme, and you’ve no doubt seen the man (series creator Tim Robinson) in his hot dog suit declaring, “We’re all trying to figure out who did this.” It’s useful X shorthand for whenever someone who caused havoc gripes about that same havoc.

Like, for instance, when a LIV Golf player bemoans the split that’s wracking the entire sport of men’s golf today.

Bryson DeChambeau became the latest LIV player to get fitted for the hot dog suit Wednesday when he offered up his opinion on golf’s divided state, where the best in the game only meet four times a year at the majors.

“We can't keep going this direction,” DeChambeau said prior to this week’s LIV event in Doral. “It's not sustainable for sure, and we all respect that and recognize that and want the best for the game of golf.”

Now, it’s easy to blame DeChambeau and the other LIV players for causing this split, but let’s look a little deeper. LIV players set themselves up for plenty of well-deserved criticism for leaping from the PGA Tour to an upstart rival league for the (vast) cash. But they didn’t create the conditions that allowed such a leap to become an option in the first place. And the fact that the PGA Tour has adapted much of its business model to mimic LIV’s — inflated purses, no-cut events, elite small fields — undergirds the idea that LIV wasn’t just a sudden schism but long-simmering discontent that boiled over two years ago.

Thankfully, we appear to be past the point where LIV players are piously proclaiming that their goal is “growing the game of golf,” where the PGA Tour is declaring that legacy and morality are the sport’s north stars. It’s all about the money, it’s always been about the money. Everybody knew that, but everybody pretended it wasn’t … right up until the money swamped every conversation.

The predictable result: fans, who really don’t care how many millions that players bank every week, increasingly found other ways to occupy their time. LIV’s ratings and on-course galleries remain small; the Tour has recorded lower ratings year-over-year for multiple tournaments this season.

DeChambeau, echoing the words of Rory McIlroy and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in recent weeks, noted — correctly — that golf is in the process of abandoning its own fans. “The fans are what drive this sport,” he said. “If we don't have fans, we don't have golf. We are not up here entertaining. That's the most important thing as of right now, the low-hanging fruit. There's got to be a way to come together.”

As for how exactly the two sides “come together”? DeChambeau readily admits that’s above even his substantial pay grade. “We can give input. We can have little moments where we say, hey, we think this would be a good idea or that would be a good idea, but ultimately, it's up to the guys up top to figure it out.”

But the clock is very much ticking. “It needs to happen fast,” he added. “It's not a two-year thing. Like, it needs to happen quicker rather than later just for the good of the sport. Too many people are losing interest.”

The last two years have filled bank accounts, yes, but they’ve also bruised egos and damaged reputations. Everyone involved — players, fans, officials, media, grounds crew — knows exactly what needs to happen. Golf must bring its best back together for more than four events a year, one way or another, for the sake of the sport’s future.

Because here’s the thing about that hot dog car sketch — even if it’s obvious who did it, the car is still wrecked.