April 17, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Bryson DeChambeau made a 75-gram reduction in his JumboMax grip weights in his Cobra clubs before the Masters. (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
With his one-length golf clubs and baseball-bat-like grips, Bryson DeChambeau has always done things drastically differently than his professional peers on the PGA TOUR. Of course, it was never without speculation from observers, but racking up four PGA TOUR wins in 2018 alone seemingly put a stamp of approval on DeChambeau’s unique tactics. DeChambeau, however, with his best finish of 2019 being 7th place at the Sony Open in Hawaii back in January, continues to chase perfection from his golf game and equipment. Sometimes that means going to extremes, or, in this case, trending slightly back toward the norm.
After a 14-hour range session in Dallas the week before the Masters, Dechambeau made a 75-gram reduction in his oversized JumboMax grip weights in his Cobra clubs. His new grips, made from a different lightweight compound, now measure just more than 50 grams, considered to be a “normal” weight by industry standards, despite their relatively massive size. He also changed from True Temper Dynamic Gold X7 shafts – extremely heavy and stiff iron shafts – to Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts, which flex more than his previous gamer shafts.
Ever since he came on TOUR, DeChambeau used JumboMax grips on his clubs that measured about 125 grams per grip. He now works on his equipment with Cobra’s TOUR Operations Manager Ben Schomin, who says Dechambeau has improved his wedge play since first coming out on TOUR, but lately DeChambeau had struggled to find consistency with the flight of his wedges. The main issues were that spin was inconsistent and they tended to fly too high. For his part, Schomin built him wedges that used weld beads on the heel to help with face closure. While Schomin says it helped, DeChambeau -- currently T105 in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens -- wasn’t satisfied with his wedge play.
To see DeChambeau’s old wedges, click here.
Schomin and DeChambeau, chasing consistency with the wedges, decided to begin testing different variables. As it turned out, DeChambeau liked the feel of a 50-gram grip, versus his old 125-gram grips, and the new build allowed DeChambeau to flight the wedges lower, and gain spin and launch consistency.
To get the wedges dialed in for competition, Schomin built eight different sets of wedges with different head weights – ranging from 270 grams to 300 grams – and different shafts -- True Temper Dynamic Gold X7, X100 and S400 – each equipped with the lighter grips. Following the extensive wedge testing, DeChambeau decided on wedges that measured 290 grams in head weight with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts.
“A lot of it comes back to feel, because now there’s a lot more weight on the head end,” Schomin told PGATOUR.COM regarding the new wedges and grips. “So it felt different, the delivery felt different. It felt better, just better feedback from a feel standpoint. Then delivery wise his tempo was better, he could flight wedges lower, spin rate actually got more consistent from shot to shot to shot. He was pretty stoked.”
After finding a wedge setup he liked, however, DeChambeau questioned the rest of his clubs. Would the rest of his clubs benefit from using the lighter grips? This is the question that “opened up a Pandora’s box,” according to Schomin, and it led to the 14-hour testing session in Dallas.
“We set up at his club Wednesday morning at 7:30 (a.m.), and we worked until 9:30 at night,” Schomin said. “We literally had 30 minutes for lunch and that was our only downtime … when we got done on Wednesday night going back to the hotel, I get to the parking lot at 10:30 (p.m.), I was literally like just sitting in my rental. My brain, I was holding my ears to keep brain matter from falling out each side … that was just a crazy day.”
In that 14-hour window, DeChambeau tested various combinations of irons with different shafts and different grips, and he hit on the GEARS Golf system that provides in-depth analytics. By 6:00 p.m., nearly 12 hours after starting testing, DeChambeau decided on 272-gram iron heads with S400 shafts and the same JumboMax 50-gram grips. The only problem was, they still needed to figure out the top-end of his bag.
“It was reshaft, regrip, reshaft, regrip, just trying to figure out what felt right to him, and literally we figured out the irons at like 6:00,” Schomin said. “That’s cool, but we still have driver, 3 wood and 5 wood. So, we were able to dedicate maybe 2 hours until it was just too dark to see the ball flight.”
Metalwoods testing continued into Monday and Tuesday of Masters week, but essentially nothing changed aside from the new lightweight grips, despite testing 3-6 shaft combinations for each head. DeChambeau is still playing his Cobra King F9 Speedback driver with a TPT shaft, and his 3- and 5-woods are each equipped with Project X HZRDUS 85-gram shafts.
As a result of the last-minute testing and experimenting, DeChambeau found immediate validation; he was tied for the lead at the Masters after the first round, firing a 6-under-par 66. While he played the final round in 2 under, DeChambeau struggled in the second-and-third rounds shooting 75 and 73, respectively. The end result was a T29 finish.
Schomin puts it into perspective: “Honestly, he only had a few rounds of golf in prior to that practicing with it, so to make such a dramatic change and be comfortable that fast is … I mean, he’s good at golf.”
Now, Schomin says DeChambeau “really likes” his golf club setup through the bag, but he knows going forward that further tweaks are inevitable.
“That’s the nature of him; he makes tweaks to his golf swing and things change up a little,” Schomin said. “We might need to grind wedges a little bit differently. [His bag is] just never going to be set…. It’s never going to be perfect. He wants it to be. He knows perfection is not exactly attainable, but it’s always something he’s working towards.”
While perfection may not be possible, DeChambeau continues to work towards that goal, whether it’s 14-hour, experimental range sessions, or tweaking something in his swing.
“The kid works hard, there’s no denying it,” Schomin said.