You've Probably Never Heard a Golfer Talk Quite Like This

'Mad scientist' Bryson DeChambeau is rising in rankings with a very calculated approach
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2019 1:14 PM CDT
You've Probably Never Heard a Golfer Talk Quite Like This
Bryson DeChambeau hits on the fourth hole during the second round for the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 12, 2019, in Augusta, Ga.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Golfer Bryson DeChambeau is off to a strong start at this week's Masters, which probably isn't a surprise to those following the 25-year-old's fast ascent up the world rankings. He's currently ranked sixth, and DeChambeau's unusual approach to the game is drawing lots of attention. Tiger Woods calls him a "numbers guy," which might be a huge understatement. DeChambeau's approach is so scientific and analytical that a feature at Bleacher Report asserts "he has the potential to change the way the game is played."

  • The process: Watch this video clip via the European Tour for a taste of DeChambeau's preparation for a shot. Among other things, he factors in not just wind and distance, but "air density to the flag."
  • The physics: Or listen to him here explain how to skip a ball across the water at Augusta National. It's "hypnotic" as he discusses the angle of the shot (30 degrees), the ideal spin rate of the ball (5,000rpm), water density, and the general physics at play, per Golf Digest. "It's just like Bernoulli's principle, flying through the air," he says casually at one point.

  • The swing: In his Bleacher Report feature, Tully Corcoran writes that DeChambeau's swing is so unorthodox—his left arm doesn't bend, for one thing—that it looks like it "shouldn't even be legal." But it is, and it works. DeChambeau used to have a classic swing, but he began tinkering with it as he explored the most efficient way to strike the ball. Another odd trait: all his irons are the same length.
  • The rain: The AP notes that DeChambeau is nicknamed the "mad scientist," and his preparation for the Masters provides another example. Knowing rain was in the forecast, he sprayed practice balls with salt water. "That's going to affect the way the ball reacts on the face," he explains. "You know, there's a percentage to that, and we have to account for that. If you don't, you're going to hit it to 30, 40 feet, instead of 10 feet."
  • A compass? DeChambeau takes advantage of green-mapping books if a course provides one. No such luck at the Masters, but the AP explains that DeChambeau is factoring that in, too. "I have to practice a lot more hitting breaking putts because I can't just bring out my compass and go, oh, it's 3% and here it is," he says. "I have to look at and walk around and go, 'OK, I'm acclimated to 3%.'"
  • A complaint: All this calculating results in slow play, and some of DeChambeau's fellow golfers are getting ticked. "I just don't understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 seconds to hit a golf ball," says rival Brooks Koepka. "It's not that hard." Business Insider has the details.
  • So close: In Thursday's first round, DeChambeau nearly had an eagle on the 18th hole, but the ball somehow didn't fall, notes USA Today. Watch it here.
(More golf stories.)

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