Bryson DeChambeau was 2020’s most interesting golfer even before he won last month’s US Open, but that victory validated his brilliant, counter-intuitive approach to the game. By rejecting conventional wisdom and angling for every competitive advantage, he’s already changed how we think about golf, and how it will be played in the future. But if there’s one thing we know about DeChambeau, it’s that neither he nor his brain can linger too long in one place. While the rest of us are studying what he’s done with his body, his clubs, his diet, his putting technique and more, he’s already on to the next thing. Guaranteed.
We can’t let him leave us in the past. Since I don’t have access to the inner workings of Camp DeChambeau, it’s my journalistic duty to infer from the available evidence exactly where this mystery ride is heading next. What follows is my attempt to spiritually levitate until I occupy the rarefied wavelengths of DeChambeau himself. As far as I can tell, these are the likeliest innovations the Mad Scientist has in store for the near and distant future.
1. The Happy Gilmore drive
I mentioned this on Twitter earlier this week, first as a joke, but the more I consider it, the more I realise it must be true. Based on fundamental scientific principles, it’s a no brainer that running up to the ball, Happy Gilmore-style, will yield more distance. It’s the same reason that an athlete executing a running long jump leaps farther than one starting from a standing position. Momentum plus mass plus whatever = beaucoup yards. Heck, DeChambeau acknowledged on Wednesday that he re-watched the movie again recently for inspiration. The big problem is accuracy, but that was supposed to be the big problem with his current approach to driving, and it turns out that with enough distance, you can sacrifice a good deal of accuracy. This is the problem DeChambeau was born to solve, and soon we’ll be seeing this in real tournaments.
2. Playing left-handed
Every top golfer needs a draw and a fade, but what if you only needed a draw because you could hit from both sides of the ball? You could completely tailor both swings to hit just one kind of shot, and worry less about variation. The only problem here is that you’d need two-sided clubs, by which I mean clubs with heads at both ends. I think Bryson can conquer this obstacle.
3. Putting with his eyes closed
OK, so Sergio has already stolen this one. Forget it. Bryson dares not tread where human foot has already trod, or something.
4. Putting between his legs, croquet style
One of the more difficult aspects of putting is alignment, and the pros have various tricks and techniques for ensuring that their aim is perfect. But after reading the greens, picking out a line, and all the rest, they always return to the inferior side position to take the stroke. This gave me an idea: what if you could stand astride the ball as you made the putt, a la croquet (see the 45-second mark here)? In fact, after I thought I’d invented this idea, YouTube informed me that it had been attempted by Sam Snead in his later career. And then YouTube informed me that Bryson DeChambeau had already thought of this and attempted a superior side-saddle version back in 2016 [below], before the man harassed him into quitting. It appears that in my attempt to anticipate the workings of his mind, I have once again been left in the innovative dust.
5. Using birds, somehow
OK, I need to come up with one that he definitely hasn’t tried yet. So, birds. We all know that carrier pigeons are capable of bringing messages to precise locations over long distances, and I’m sure that one could be trained to carry a ball to a hole in some kind of tiny basket. There’s no rule against using flying creatures to your advantage but the trick is that you’d have to hit the ball to the bird in order to conform to the rules. I haven’t figured out how to solve this wrinkle quite yet, since birds aren’t like dogs in their ability to catch flying objects, and you wouldn’t want to look like an idiot by chipping a ball off the tee on a par 5 to an unresponsive bird. Maybe a hybrid dog-bird is the answer? I don’t know, but I’m presenting the idea because I think DeChambeau could find the solution, and truly change the distance game. He’ll become the first man to hit a hole-in-one on a par 5 using a pitching wedge.
6. Gravity manipulation
I’m not going to pretend I can solve this myself, but I’m just saying that if you could hit a ball far over a green and then increase Earth’s gravity tenfold at the precise moment when it was over the pin, the ball would come crashing to the ground at the flag and you’d eliminate the need for distance control on approach shots, which is one of DeChambeau’s few remaining weaknesses. (Fair warning: executing this technique would result in a fair bit of human death.)
7. Terrifying masks
If there’s one angle DeChambeau hasn’t exploited quite yet, it’s on-course intimidation. Sure, his muscles and his distance are intimidating, but in terms of psychologically defeating his playing partners, he’s left the realm almost untouched. This would have limited effect on Thursdays and Fridays, but could be very helpful over the weekend, and would be priceless in matchplay events like the WGC–Dell Match Play and the Ryder Cup. What I’m suggesting is that DeChambeau discovers the deepest fears of his colleagues and designs special masks to terrify them when they’re paired together in critical moments. With Rory McIlroy, he could wear a mask depicting a closet full of jackets that are every colour but green. For Brooks Koepka, the words “self-doubt” sewn in bright red. For Jon Rahm, a calm meditation scene. You get the idea.
8. A 96-inch driver
Rumour has it that he’s going to try a 48-inch driver. Fine, but here’s my suggestion: double it. This will also force every course to widen its teeing grounds, which will give him more space to launch his dog-birds. And if that works out, there’s always the 14-foot driver that the Guinness world record holder sported.
9. Build his entire home from heavy rough
Live among the heavy rough, communicate with the heavy rough, become the heavy rough. Never fear the heavy rough again, never worry about too much distance even if they start implementing graduated rough. Rough is life. This is the final stage in DeChambeau’s revolution, after which he’ll never lose again.