Bryson DeChambeau, the self-proclaimed ‘golfing scientist’, is as wacky as they come. His one-plane swing is unconventional, and he’s already fascinated Rory McIlroy with his same-length clubs. He lists Albert Einstein among his idols, sports Ben Hogan-style flat caps on the course and ensures his golf balls are perfectly balanced by floating them in Epsom salts. The 22-year-old American's radical ways of thinking made him the talk of the town on the Amateur circuit, and he's now putting them to good use on the PGA Tour.
We spoke to DeChambeau about his clubs, his swing, and how golf drove him to madness...
Q. What makes you so different to every other tour pro?
I’ve kind of become a little bit of an outlier. I guess there’s a fascination because of the extremes that I’ve gone to, but I’m not trying to be completely different. Everybody has their own style intrinsically and I’m just figuring out different little ways to make my body move efficiently.
Q. How has your degree in physics influenced your golf game?
One of the reasons I am where I am is because I had those underlying principles of knowledge from physics. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be able to extrapolate numbers and create a chart that allows me to control how far I’m taking it [my club] back. It’s a number series, essentially, which tells me how far to go back per interval to make the ball land a certain distance. Spin is a completely different issue. That’s based on the firmness of the turf, the friction of the turf and also the spin rate and wetness.
Q. How do you handle the pressure of competing on tour?
Well, it drove me to madness two years ago, but I realised golf isn’t the ultimate thing in my life. You’ve got to prioritise and understand that it is just a game.
Q. Is golf a science or an art?
Most people think you’re either technical or you’re an artist or feel player. I believe it’s a mesh of the two. If you can beautifully mesh the art and science of it to enhance your game, there’s no downside to it.
Q. What do you say to people who think you are too obsessed with numbers?
I will say to them that I am an artist. I love creating things and that’s ultimately why I’ve become so scientific because scientists are artists. Coming up with equations, that’s an art. I’m out there looking at things, imagining things and creating things on my own.
Q. When did you start using clubs that are all the same length through the entire bag?
It was in 2011 when we started coming up with an idea. It was through my coach Mike Schy’s help. I actually went up to him and asked: "Why can’t clubs be the same length?" I was experimenting with a one-plane swing at the time and I found it was very difficult to accomplish with different-length clubs.
Q. Do you think your equipment will catch on?
If I play well this year, I guarantee you a lot of people would want to try it. One of the main benefits is for people with back problems. The issue comes from changing positions every single time you go to a different club. Your muscles are molded to be comfortable with a certain position. That’s why people have favourite clubs. My 7-iron is my favourite club. That’s why I built my whole set around that.
Q. Rory McIlroy had a go using your clubs earlier this year. Have any other players asked to trial them?
Dustin Johnson took a couple of my clubs to try, but he came back and said: “I couldn’t do this.”
Q. If you weren’t playing golf, for a living, what would you be doing for a job?
I think I would definitely be doing some research in the golf industry with a club manufacturer or doing university research for biomechanics on the efficiencies of motion. I like understanding how the body works and how it can work most efficiently.