September 19, 2018
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
Bryson DeChambeau's highlights from the Dell Technologies Championship
ATLANTA, Ga. — Tuesday morning produced a curious scene on the practice range at East Lake Golf Club, as Bridgestone Golf's Adam Rehberg stood a couple feet away from Bryson DeChambeau — a spray bottle full of water in his hand.
After each shot, Rehberg would bend over and spray DeChambeau's golf ball with water; other times he'd spray not only the ball but club face and turf as well.
To the casual observer, it might have looked like Rehberg had taken over duties as DeChambeau's official club and golf ball washer. But when it comes to DeChambeau — arguably the most analytical player on TOUR — there's a method to his unique practice routines.
Simulating moisture on the ball.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 18, 2018
Bryson being Bryson. ⚛ pic.twitter.com/uXNadkxTOP
On this particular day, DeChambeau was working with Bridgestone to understand how water — be it dew or light rain — affected spin rate on various wedge shots. The testing session came about following a soggy four days at Aronimink, during the BMW Championship, where DeChambeau struggled with his approach shots.
"Last week at Aronimink it was wet conditions, and a couple weeks ago I didn't play very well — as well," DeChambeau said. "I didn't control the ball. My proximity of the hole wasn't as good. So we're trying to figure out what is happening in those situations. That's where you saw some of the guys at Bridgestone and Cobra were up there trying to figure it out."
During the 45-minute session, DeChambeau, who grew up soaking his golf balls in Epsom salt to determine the center of gravity, went through three different scenarios: dry club face and wet golf ball; wet club face and golf ball; as well as wet club face, golf ball and turf.
"He's looking to eliminate as many variables as possible," Rehberg said. "In this case, he wanted to know how much water would affect not only spin rate and any potential hydroplaning but ball flight as well.
"He and his caddie already are constantly taking into account adrenaline, wind, humidity and things of that nature. This is just another part of the equation that he was interested in. If there's a loss in spin for a particular scenario, he can adapt for a flyer shot "
What DeChambeau learned from the session was that the difference in spin rate between a wet ball scenario and one where the club face and ball are damp was minimal. He's also in the process of learning more about how turf types and wetness affect spin rate as well.
It's gotten to the point that Bridgestone has started ordering different turfs for DeChambeau to test on during his down time. To say he's involved in the ball creation and design process would be a severe understatement.
DeChambeau has a direct line to Bridgestone's R&D department and stays in constant contact with them during the season. For example: The following day after winning the Dell Technologies Championship, the four-time TOUR winner was on the phone with R&D to discuss how the ball performed on the course that week.
He's also already gone through one full round of prototype testing on a golf ball that won't see the light of day on retail shelves until 2020.
"He's R&D gold," Rehberg said. "He's feeding us info from shots he's hitting under tournament conditions and trying to find a way to improve our ball. His information is invaluable, and the fact that he's so hands-on only helps during the prototyping process."