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The strengths and weaknesses of Bryson DeChambeau’s game

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Bryson DeChambeau made waves last season in the golf world after he won the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur. Between his swing mechanics, unique golf clubs and knowledge of physics, he’s became one of the most interesting players on Tour. He turned professional after the Masters, and here is how he as performed on the PGA Tour so far this year.

  • Arnold Palmer Invitational: T27
  • The Masters: T21
  • RBC Heritage: T4
  • Valero Texas Open: MC
  • Wells Fargo Championship: MC
  • AT&T Byron Nelson: MC
  • Dean & Deluca Invitational: MC
  • The Memorial: T38
  • U.S. Open: T15

This has raised some eyebrows from readers who have asked for a more in-depth look at DeChambeau’s game, as he was in contention at the Masters at one point, played very well at Harbour Town before missing four cuts in a row, and started to regain his form back in the U.S. Open.

table-2

While DeChambeau missed four cuts in a row and has only recorded one top-10 finish, his scoring metrics have been sound thus far. Furthermore, he has done well on the Par-4’s which has the strongest correlation to Total Adjusted Scoring Average.

Driving Data

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The rankings are based out of 202 golfers. So, DeChambeau ranking 100th means he’s at about the average in terms of effectiveness off the tee. He certainly generates a good amount of club speed, but he also appears to hit his driver with a bit of a downward attack angle in competition, which saps some of his power away.

I was a bit surprised by his Tee Shot Aggressiveness, which estimates how often a player is laying up off the tee. He was ultra-aggressive off the tee at Harbour Town and had great success there. But since, it appears he’s become very conservative off the tee and that may be giving him issues. He also has a fairly pronounced rightward miss bias.

Approach Shot Data

table-4

The approach shot data gives us a better idea as to why DeChambeau has had some struggles. The interesting part is he’s one of the best on Tour from the Yellow Zone (125-175 yards), but the worst on Tour from the Red Zone (175-225 yards). This will typically translate to a lot of birdies, but also a lot of bogeys. When players get into the Yellow Zone, those that hit the ball closer to the hole on average are set up to make more birdies because they are hitting those approach shots into a makeable range. From the Red Zone, the players who hit it more closely save themselves from making bogeys and double bogeys.

What I find more interesting is that Augusta National and Oakmont are very Red Zone-centric courses, and he performed well there. His best finish was at Harbour Town, which is more of a Yellow Zone-centric course. My interpretation is that there is little reason to press the panic button. While the Red Zone is the most important range
for approach shots, DeChambeau’s poor performance is likely due to the learning curve of transitioning from collegiate and amateur golf to the PGA Tour. He’s excellent from 150-175 yards, and I believe that in short time he will greatly improve his Red Zone play.

Short Game and Putting Data

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 4.50.57 PM

Putting has also been an issue for DeChambeau. He has putted well from 15-25 feet, but putts from 5-15 feet have a stronger correlation to Adjusted Scoring Average. Much like approach shot play, these are the growing pains for a young professional. His Short Game data indicates he’s fairly competent around the greens and that his putting is likely holding him back from saving more pars.

In the end, DeChambeau has shown flashes of becoming the next top young professional on Tour. There has been a noticeable learning curve, but his Yellow Zone play and putting from 15-25 feet will lead to a ton of birdies on the Par-4’s. The performance at Oakmont is promising, since it is a course that stresses shots from 175-250 yards. One more thing to note; he has played the 4th toughest schedule on Tour at this point in time. The general idea is that once he starts playing in events with weaker fields, he should be able to have even stronger finishes.

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Richie Hunt is a statistician whose clients include PGA Tour players, their caddies and instructors in order to more accurately assess their games. He is also the author of the recently published e-book, 2018 Pro Golf Synopsis; the Moneyball Approach to the Game of Golf. He can be reached at ProGolfSynopsis@yahoo.com or on Twitter @Richie3Jack. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: March 2014 Purchase 2017 Pro Golf Synopsis E-book for $10

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Snoopy

    Jul 11, 2016 at 12:28 am

    Rich, (or anyone), I’ve always wondered this about Bryson… if his swing gets off, will he play around his miss or is he 100% committed to his swing chart and his swing plane? As in, if he misses one right, will he make the same swing and aim left, or will he try to correct?

  2. MAC

    Jun 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    IF I DIDNT KNOW BETTER I WOULD THINK YOU ARE ON THE SPECTRUM. LAST GUY I KNEW LIKE THAT WAS MOE BUY YOU COULDN’T HOLD HIS JOCK.

  3. Millennial

    Jun 26, 2016 at 6:38 am

    About as funny as a syphilis.

  4. Large chris

    Jun 25, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Very interesting analysis as always…. The surprising thing is (and I do think he has a lot of game) is that his red zone play is so poor (ranked last), when you consider from previous articles that:

    A) 175 to 225 is the most significant indicator of success
    B) single length clubs are mainly supposed to improve the long iron game, yet this is his weakest point.

  5. Happy Troll

    Jun 25, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Yet you are down here reading and commenting. Seriously go read ESPN. Golf WRX is fine and my favorite website because of ease of commenting.

  6. Lee Layfield

    Jun 24, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I love to watch him play. He’s going to be one of the greats.

  7. Steve

    Jun 24, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I hate Facebook.

  8. Bob Pegram

    Jun 24, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    His very high hand position at address probably contributes to his tendency to miss to the right.

  9. Agreed

    Jun 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Totally agree. Make it happen GolfWRX.

    • Shallowface

      Jun 24, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Yeah, let’s link it to Facebook whose existence is the reason we need Snopes.
      All of you millennials are really going to be sorry when Freedom of Speech disappears altogether.

  10. Andrew

    Jun 24, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Maybe time BC to consider a blended set. 3-5 same length, 6-8 same length and 9 through to wedges same length. This will hopefully cover his short comings with the longer distance.

  11. Steve

    Jun 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Excellent article.

    At what sample size is this data reliable enough to predict future performance?

    • Joe

      Jun 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      In no way does it predict future performance, but it does show current performance. Like I, and others, have pointed out he is in the learning curve. Also, he is under tremendous pressure to prove himself in order to gain entrance as a full time PGA Tour Player.

      He sought to enter the tour like Tiger did, win enough money or a tournament for automatic qualification. He is not Tiger. He needs seasoning on the mini tour.

      His problem is not his clubs, it is lack of experience and playing against a deep pool of talented Pro’s.
      He may have been the best in college and as an amateur, but this is a different stage. Everyone (!) on the tour are good, and all were successful as amateurs.

      There have been many who failed who were touted as the Next Great. No verdict yet on whether he will turn it around, go to the mini and up his game, become an average player, or rise to the top.

  12. Tc

    Jun 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Poor guy. Getting analyzed this way just because he has them clubs.

    • Shallowface

      Jun 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      When a club or method is touted as being something that is going to revolutionize the way golf is played, it deserves this kind of scrutiny. Something truly revolutionary would be producing great results NOW, not after some sort of “learning curve.” I think Bryson is a quality individual and I hope he is successful, but I won’t be surprised if there are some changes along the way.

      • Joe

        Jun 23, 2016 at 10:46 pm

        This has nothing to do with the clubs.

        • Shallowface

          Jun 24, 2016 at 3:54 pm

          If has everything to do with the clubs. If not for the clubs, Bryson wouldn’t be drawing anywhere near the interest he is getting.

          • Joe

            Jun 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm

            You seem to forget that he was the NCAA and U.S. Champion. I believe this has only been done twice before. He would get interest regardless of what he plays.

            The article is about how he is doing competitively, not so good. There is no comparison between his clubs and what others are using. His stats have little to nothing to do with what he plays, but how he is playing. At this time his game (not his clubs) are what is in question.

            Single length irons are not new, they were used extensively in bygone era’s. I neither believe they are superior or inferior to the accepted current irons in use. They will not fit into everyones game, but I would think the ability to set up the same for every club would help the non-initiated golfer quite a bit. One-swing, one-setup.

    • John

      Jun 24, 2016 at 12:29 am

      Poor TC. At least your mom loves you

  13. Joe

    Jun 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    There is a learning curve. I think several years on the mini tour will help him. I do wonder about his resolve, this is an arrogant person with a lot of pride. Having to go to the Mini will affect him, the question is Negative vs Positive.

    Kuch came in heralded and disappeared for awhile, Bubba also spent some time in Time Out also.

  14. Emmizzle

    Jun 23, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    lol

  15. mr b

    Jun 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    he hits the ball so low.

    • mr b

      Jun 23, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      such a bully on the internet. so tough.

    • mr b

      Jun 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      you def win the award for golf internet forum tough guy of the year. congrats!

    • Kevin McKevKev

      Jun 23, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      At least he still plays Smizzo. The last time I saw you you were in the clubhouse smashing beers and talking about how you could have won the club championship if it wasn’t for a very unlucky 17 on the first.

      • Flavour Saver

        Jun 23, 2016 at 11:52 pm

        I remember that. He had an absolute brain fade and hit 5 shots out of bounds and then after a 4 putt he stripped of and kept yelling “I am the Smizzle. This can’t happen to the Smizzle”. From there things got really weird as he started coating himself in yogurt and then rolled around in the bunker for 4 hours before finally snapping all his clubs and throwing them in the lake. He still comes to the club everyday and is propped up at the bar telling anyone who will listen about how close he went to winning the club championships.

        • First Person

          Jun 24, 2016 at 12:05 am

          Did he really refer to himself in the Third Person? What a weirdo.

        • M Smoghurt

          Jun 24, 2016 at 6:06 pm

          People started to get suspicious when you were carrying a second golf bag.

  16. larrybud

    Jun 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Iron data is the most telling, to me, and is a result of his single-length club setup. How easy can it be to control a finesse shot like 80 yards when you’re using clubs the length of a 6 iron?

    • Rich Hunt

      Jun 23, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      One should remember that the sample size is small. Furthermore, he switched from Edel to Cobra irons and I think there is a learning curve with that as well. I would not give up on them just yet.

  17. es

    Jun 23, 2016 at 9:22 am

    what is his status on the tour? did he use up all his exemptions for the year yet? he hasn’t qualified from his own merit yet correct?

    • mctrees02

      Jun 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

      So far, DeChambeau has earned the equivalent of 212 FedEx Cup points. He needs to earn 361 points before his 7 sponsors exemptions run out.

      Any event in which he finishes in the Top 10 automatically gets him into next week’s tournament and does not count against his 7 exemptions. As of today, he has the Quicken Loans (received invite as US Amateur champ) + 3 sponsors exemptions left to earn an additional 149 points.

      (below from a Golfchannel article)
      DeChambeau needs 361 points – the equivalent of 150th on last year’s FedEx Cup points list – to earn special temporary status on Tour, which would allow him to receive an unlimited number of sponsor exemptions for the rest of the season.

      If he reaches that threshold, he is playing for points or money equal to or greater than 125th in this year’s standings to earn exempt status for next season. That number is still a moving target, but for the sake of comparison, last year’s No. 125 had 458 points or $747,899 in earnings.

      At the very least, DeChambeau needs to earn enough points to finish inside the top 200 to reach the Web.com Tour Finals at the end of the year. That guarantees at least some status on the developmental circuit next year, with an opportunity, if he plays well, to earn a PGA Tour card.

      • es

        Jun 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm

        wow mctrees02, thank you for the detailed information.
        Looks like he really helped his cause by qualifying and playing well in the US Open. pressure is on to do well in those last 3 exemptions. if he makes it to 361 points i think he’ll make it to no.125

      • Emmizzle

        Jun 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

        thanks

  18. Rich Hunt

    Jun 23, 2016 at 9:08 am

    That tends to be a bit of a learning curve as well. From my experience working with Tour players is that they tend to hit them too hard when they start out. Bryson is very speed conscious and works with Vector Putting (although he was taught AimPoint, first). But his putting from 15-25 feet usually indicates a firm putter of the ball and that may be a bit too firm on short ones.

  19. Forsbrand

    Jun 23, 2016 at 8:54 am

    When he scores well he’s wragged with his putter.

    He used totally different clubs to others and has faith in them, which is great, but I’m yet to see a major difference in his length or scoring with his clubs , ie knocking it closer than those average guys with standard equipment.

    If he wins two majors then I’ll change my mind

    • M.

      Jun 23, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Short irons are too long and long irons are too short?!

    • Concerned Troll

      Jun 24, 2016 at 9:36 am

      If you’re waiting for a definitive answer regarding whether or not single-length irons are “better” or “worse” than standard length irons, you’re not going to get one. They work for him because he likes them and has hit thousands of balls with them. Even if he were “knocking it closer” than the guys with standard equipment, that still doesn’t tell you jack about which set is better. It’s the indian not the arrow.

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Recently, we covered some of the best fans outfits from the 1991 Masters Tournament won by Ian Woosnam (Patron Fashion at the ’91 Masters). Now, it’s time to look back on what many call the height of all golf fashion: the 1970s.

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1974

Dave Stockton wore a beautiful yellow ensemble, which included matching white belt and shoes. If you’re going to go full yellow – this is the way to do it. Take note, 2006 Hoylake Sergio Garcia.

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Tom Weiskopf never won a green jacket, but as far as the Masters is concerned, he could easily go down as one of the best dressed throughout his career. These pants alone belong in the hall of fame.

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1975

Johnny Miller is another man that never won the Masters, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of close calls. He came second in 1975 but his outfit could have been considered the clubhouse leader, thanks to a well-fit solid blue stiff-collar polo that also went well with his flowing blonde locks. Now I know I said I would leave the patrons alone for this, but I have to ask “what the heck is that pink thing on that woman’s head behind Miller on the tee box?” I’m extremely thankful this was broadcast in color.

Thanks to the signature glasses, Hale Irwin is easy to spot, and as mentioned already, green also looks good inside the ropes at Augusta. The long button closure was a telltale sign of the times and few pulled this look off as well as Hale. Also, one more patron to point out: the man in the full yellow pants, jacket, and hat (this is the outfit of the guy she told you not to worry about).

Tom Weiskopf, a towering man from Ohio, made clothing look good. His 1975 final round lilac sweater would have fit very nicely under a green jacket along with the high collar white shirt. This look was as classic then, as it is today.

1976

Raymond Floyd won the green jacket this year and the collar on his shirt could be considered a premonition for the culminating events. Raymond’s pants were also well-tailored to show off his brown and white saddle shoes.

Ben Crenshaw once again made color look good in 1976 with a striped yellow and red shirt to go along with a red belt, and yellow pants. This Texas Longhorn even coordinated his glove for the occasion.

 

*Featured image courtesy of Masters.com, and yes, that’s current ANGC chair and then amateur sensation Fred Ridley strolling the fairway with Jack Nicklaus. 

 

 

 

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