February 13, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson discuss arm-lock putting at the Genesis Open. (Photos by Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
On the putting green of Riviera Country Club on Monday ahead of the 2019 Genesis Open, defending champion Bubba Watson huddled around Bryson DeChambeau’s Samsung Note 9 phone, watching a slow-motion video of a putt that Watson hit moments earlier. They were were analyzing the launch of Watson’s yellow Pro V1x golf ball from his new putter face, as Watson is using a new putting method that he learned from DeChambeau.
“…I just copied Bryson DeChambeau,” Watson told the media about his new putting style at the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. “I tried to copy the other guys hitting fairways, try to copy the other guys hitting greens, and now I'm going to copy Bryson on putting.”
Watson, the 12-time PGA TOUR winner who used a standard-size putter throughout his golfing career, is currently using a 21-inch grip on his Ping putter, and he’s setting the grip to his left forearm during the stroke, ala DeChambeau. Watson said in Phoenix that he sought arm-lock putting advice from DeChambeau via text while DeChambeau was in Saudi Arabia. With DeChambeau back in the United States for the Genesis Open, Watson and DeChambeau had an arm-lock putting session right on the practice green; DeChambeau playing the Yoda to Watson’s Luke Skywalker.
“I’m just helping him out a little bit,” DeChambeau told me. “He’s seen a dramatic improvement, and my ability to putt when I came out here and to where I’m at now, he’s obviously looking for a way that works for him. He likes the arm-lock, he feels somewhat comfortable with it. He’s just trying to get a better understanding of how to make it better for him and I’m willing to give my time to that.”
On Wednesday ahead of the 2019 Genesis Open, Watson explained what he’s learned from Dechambeau.
“He’s so much smarter than I am,” Watson told me. “We’re looking at it from the standpoint of, for me personally, trying to eliminate the arm movement left-to-right or right-to-left that leaves the putter open and closes the putter. So that’s how I’m looking at it, that’s the only reason I’m trying it right now. That’s the thing though, everything that I’ve asked him, and everything we’ve done, it comes down to your swing. Even putting is a swing. It comes down to how you de-loft the putter or add loft to the putter at impact. There’s no right or wrong (loft) number if that makes sense.”
For Watson, he’s willing to take the risk and experiment with trying something new.
“My putting has never been in the top-100 on the TOUR, so it's not going to affect me much by trying something new,” Watson told the media at the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he finished T4 but had -1.363 Strokes Gained: Putting.
According to a Ping representative, Watson’s arm-lock experiment is still a work in progress.
“He’s going to continue working on it,” a Ping rep told PGATOUR.COM. “It’s only his second week doing this. It’s a whole new style, a whole new putter, so he’s still working through stuff. And that’s what we were doing on Monday, trying some different lengths, and different grips. Just trying some different stuff that in his mind he can go through this process of, ‘Ok, this didn’t work, this didn’t work, this is working.’ So, it’s still a process of elimination.”
At the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Watson used a Ping Anser putter head with 5 degrees of loft, 1 degree flat, and 365 grams of total weight, according to Ping representative. As of Wednesday at the 2019 Genesis Open, Watson was also trying a Ping Sigma 2 Arna Stealth mallet putter with the same 21-inch Ping grip, along with the Anser-style head he played previously.
With all of the modern technology available to the players -- DeChambeau has even developed a new application along with FlightScope -- why were Watson and DeChambeau using a phone camera to track launch, though?
“[My Samsung phone] has the ability to capture up to 720 frames per second, so we can see how the ball is truly launching,” DeChambeau said. “You can see how good [the video quality] is. So that’s what we were looking at. I’m trying to help him out. I know he’s wanted some input from me every once in a while, and shoot, if I can help him out a little, I’m not opposed to it because we’re all trying to get better out here. I’m not going to give him all of my secrets at the end of the day, though (laughs).”
In 2018, DeChambeau ranked 32nd on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting, while Watson ranked 115th.