The Golf Scientist
Bryson DeChambeau may be the most polarizing of all the game’s young stars and most people don’t know who he is.
DeChambeau missed the cut at this weekend’s Valero Texas Open, which was his second start as a professional.
In his maiden event playing for money, the 22-year old DeChambeau finished tied for 4th at the RBC Heritage at Harbor Town the previous week. That would earn the enigmatic Californian a cool $259,000 which will go a long way to helping him gain his PGA Tour card. Like Jordan Spieth before him, DeChambeau will be trying to gain exempt status on Tour with a series of sponsor’s invitations and earn enough money to finish in the Top 125 by the end of the season.
While still an Amateur the week before the RBC, DeChambeau had flirted with the lead late into Friday’s second round at The Masters before ultimately finishing in a tie for 22nd.
In DeChambeau’s decorated Amateur career, in 2015, he became only the fifth player in history to have won both the U.S. Amateur and NCAA individual championship in the same year. The other players that captured both were Ryan Moore, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus. Some pretty lofty company.
In addition to those two victories, DeChambeau won 6 other national Amateur titles and represented the U.S. in the 2014 Palmer Cup, Eisenhower Trophy and the 2015 Walker Cup. DeChambeau also came second in last year’s Australian Masters (where the winner gets a yellow jacket not a green one).
To say the least, DeChambeau is a little different and most certainly marches to the beat of his own drum.
All of DeChambeau’s irons are the same length, 37.5 inches, which is the stock measurement for a 7-iron (in a traditional set of irons there is a half an inch difference in length between each club).
They also all have nicknames.
Single-length, single-swing repetition are the core of DeChambeau’s mechanics, but their origin is anything but simple. His philosophy is based on Homer Kelley’s, “The Golfing Machine,” which is one of the most complex swing theories ever conceived.
DeChambeau’s story to date is eerily similar to Bobby Clampett who was the next “sure thing” on the PGA Tour in the early 1980’s. Clampett was also a Homer Kelley disciple who was a notorious thinker. After a stellar Amateur career, he too burst onto the Tour amidst much fanfare and assurances of greatness armed with the moniker “The Swing” because of the supposed perfection of his motion. Clampett would win one tournament in his 15 years on Tour.
When DeChambeau inked his endorsement deal with Cobra Puma Golf CEO Bob Philion immediately following The Masters, he did so with a left handed-signature, spelled backwards. DeChambeau is right-handed.
Although DeChambeau is leaving his college, SMU, after his junior year, the engineering major refers to himself as a “golf scientist”.
In addition to his unorthodox iron configuration and esoteric methodology, DeChambeau has been perfecting a sidesaddle (face-on), putting style that he plans to adopt full time, once he gains his Tour playing privileges.
He wears a cap styled after the same lid that Ben Hogan was famous for. Naturally, DeChambeau doesn’t call it a cap but refers to it as his “cape” (using it as a motivational shield over his competition).
Every good crusader needs a cape don’t they?
Only time will tell whether DeChambeau will be a shooting star who flashes across the sky only to vanish or a lasting luminary who leaves a constellation of work.
Of one thing we can be assured, it will be fun to watch.