Bryson DeChambeau has earned his nickname, the “mad scientist”, for a lot of reasons. However, as he prepares to defend his John Deere Classic title this week, he reflects the things science didn’t fix.
Bryson DeChambeau comes to golf from a different perspective. One that’s numbers and formulas, proving what works mathematically and applying that to golf and to playing golf. But in the last year, he learned that his earning his victory at the John Deere Classic was as important as math and physics.
“I learned that I could execute shots under high pressure situations,” he explained in his pre-tournament interview as defending champion. “That was a big thing.”
He continued to add to the knowledge base when, after winning at John Deere, he missed the cut at the British Open.
“If I want to be even better and even more consistent, I got to figure out a new way to swing or execute shots that is going to allow me to repeat motion on a more consistent level,” he explained about his year-ago lesson. “I think from winning that, it allowed me to understand that I need to be even more repeatable.”
Making that change, he said, allowed him to be have higher finishes more often in 2018.
In 2017, he had one victory, but he also had 16 missed cuts. His only other top-15 finishes were 2nd at Puerto Rico and 14th at The Greenbrier.
In 2018, to date, he has had only one missed cut, had several high finishes and a victory. He was 7th at Shriners; 5th at Waste Management, 2nd at Arnold Palmer, 4th at Wells Fargo, 9th at Travelers, and, of course, he had a victory at The Memorial.
DeChambeau leans on confidence, and a connection to Payne Stewart
However, the victory at John Deere also helped him gain confidence which helped his performance.
“It’s, ultimately, what allowed me to play super consistent throughout the year and know that in any stressful situation, whether I’m not executing exactly the way I want to, hey, I can still do it. I can still shoot 30 on the back nine and win a tournament,” he explained.
He had that to draw on all year and it helped him, he said, at the Arnold Palmer.
“Really thought I had a great chance to win there, but Rory kind of thwarted that unfortunately,” he said. “The reason why I won the Memorial was (because) of winning here at the John Deere, knowing that I could get it done. Even though I didn’t have it (on) the front nine here at the John Deere, I was still able to get it done on the back nine. So, bringing that back kind of helped.”
He also mentioned that winning the John Deere was important to him because it was Payne Stewart’s first PGA Tour title. Stewart, like DeChambeau, went to SMU.
To get historically factual, while the current PGA Tour web site lists Stewart’s first victory as the Magnolia Classic, at the time it was an opposite field event, not a “real” PGA Tour event. In those days, it was often held opposite The Masters. It had other names over the years and finally became the fall event we know as the Sanderson Farms Championship.
The 1983 Tour Media Guide lists the Magnolia Classic in Other Achievements by Stewart and not a PGA Tour victory, but in the summaries of previous year’s tournaments, it has a page reflecting who won and the prize money for the victory.
The 1984 PGA Tour Media Guide does not have a tournament page for it and lists it in Stewart’s bio under Other Achievements. In both years, for players who won PGA Tour events, the wins are listed as PGA Tour victories. Both the 1983 and 1984 Media Guides list the 1982 Quad Cities, as it was called at the time, as Stewart’s first victory. Both have the Magnolia Classic as Other Achievements.
Bryson DeChambeau and the compass “controversy”
DeChambeau deflected commenting on the compass “equipment” issue and just said, “I talked to John Bodenhamer about it quite a bit, couple hours, and we had a great conversation. The USGA has been really responsive. We’ve had fantastic talks. I’m honestly look forward to working with them on helping make the rules better, more clear.”
He said his use of the compass was not to go against or break rules.
“It was just a device I thought had been used for a long time in different fields,” he explained. “It shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not a distance measuring device. It’s just a referencing tool.”
Could it be used to measure angles? Yes, but you need time and paper to do it. See this explanation of how to create 30,45,60 and 90-degree angles using a compass.
Of course, if the compass has angle measurements on it, then holding the two parts of it up could give some kind of idea of a measurement, although I’m not sure what. Maybe it gives him a similar measure the way Adam Scott and Justin Rose use AimPointwhich teaches golfers to use the feeling of slope in their feet and the number of fingers on their hand to somehow read putts.
AimPoint also has AimPoint TV, below, which is used to predict how putts will roll on the green with graphics. It is reliant on the perfect line, the perfect speed, and the perfect read.
I have not learned AimPoint, but can it be much different than good plumb-bobbing?
Now if DeChambeau had a protractor, that half circle which shows angle measures, it might allow him to hold that up against the horizon and find out how much slope in degrees the green has. That would be a measuring device.
But we digress. DeChambeau is now on to other things.
He’s currently 6th in FedExCup points and that puts him in contention for a spot on the Ryder Cup team. However, he doesn’t want that to influence how he plays.
“I’m not going to put more into it and be like, Man, this shot, if I hit this well I am going to potentially make the Ryder — you know what I mean?” he said. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t ever want to think like that.”
The next chapter in the life of the Inscrutable Mr. DeChambeau is going to have to do with movement.
“Biomechanics. Trying to figure out a way to have better proprioception,” he said without explaining a lot more. “Back to my brain and trying to figure out a way to consistently repeat motion. That’s really it. That’s all I can tell you. I’m not going to go too deep into that.”
Thanks, Bryson. We actually appreciate that. For those who want to know more, proprioception is more or less figuring out where your body is in space based on the feedback that your body gives your brain. If you google search proprioception, you’ll get a bunch of articles and medical information.
Biomechanics is broader, but in sports, it makes sense.
We await the next stage in DeChabeau’s career progress with interest, and perhaps the need for a medical degree.