Voices
March 27, 2020

David Leadbetter's open letter to Brandel Chamblee: You're better than cheap shots

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It’s sad how a person of influence in the golf world like Brandel Chamblee can spew out some of the nonsense that he does.

Brandel was a journeyman tour player and has moved on to become a highly regarded TV pundit, at least in some quarters. His controversial comments can at times be quite refreshing, but personal attacks on people, players at times, and in this case, coaches, are cheap shots just meant to further his reputation as an outspoken analyst. I doubt that Brandel has ever given a golf lesson of any note in his life. I certainly have not heard of any tour players running around singing his praises as a coach.

Brandel should realize the time, passion, study, commitment and the amount of devotion that coaches put in to help their students succeed. I say this because I and my assistant Adam Schreiber spent countless hours in the late ’80s and early ’90s on the range helping Brandel to try to reach his goals. It certainly was not for the money, as I think the check is still in the mail.

Should there be some criticism of coaches? Absolutely. But that’s the same in any profession. I have faced criticism over the years, some justified and some not. It comes with the territory. I would say on balance, though, having taught seven World No. 1 players and players who have won 23 majors, that I would consider myself to have had a fairly successful career.

I’m with many of these coaches at tournaments, and although I do not necessarily agree with all of their philosophies, I can assure you there is not a more dedicated group of individuals who mainly do it for the love of it, and not the financial rewards.

So I would say to Brandel, in the future, before you are so quick to criticize, take time to research what you are commenting on. Have the players had an injury, or any personal issues that are affecting their performance? Do they just need a different viewpoint after having been with their coach for so many years? Even great caddies get fired if a change of scenery is needed! Are the parents of the player interfering busy-bodies who won’t let the coach do the job despite a lot of success?

Coaching is a specialized art and takes many years of experience. Teachers play a huge role in player development at all levels. The problem with Brandel’s comments, maybe unwittingly, is that he tars all coaches with the same brush. His comments can have a highly detrimental effect on the game as a whole, because the many dedicated PGA professionals who help thousands of amateur golfers enjoy the game more, are all put in a negative light—which is totally undeserved and unnecessary.

So Brandel, you are articulate, knowledgeable and obviously love the game, but there is no need to fire a low blow toward, in many instances, people you know very little about. You are observing them from 10,000 feet, instead of joining them on the ground and finding out the real story, which is what your viewers are entitled to, not some self-serving comments, which are only half-truths at best. You are better than this, Brandel.

David Leadbetter is a longtime Golf Digest teaching professional.