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.
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.
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
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
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.
The 19th Hole Episode 159: Howard University coach Sam Puryear
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The Wedge Guy: The Red Zone
For those of you who are big football fans, we are lost in the off-season, waiting a few more months before we get to watch our favorite pro or college teams duke it out on the gridiron. Living in Texas, of course, football is a very big deal, from the NFL Cowboys and Texans, through our broad college network representing multiple conferences and into the bedrock of Friday nights – high school football, which drives fans and entire towns into a frenzy.
In almost every football conversation on TV, you hear talk about “the red zone”. How a team performs inside the 20-yard line is a real measure of their offensive prowess, and usually a pretty good indicator of their win/loss record, too. It breaks down to what percentage of the time a team scores a touchdown or field goal, and how often they come away empty.
I like to think we golfers have our own “red zone”. It’s that distance from the green where we should be able to go on the offensive and think about pars and birdies, ensure no worse than bogey . . . and rarely put a double or worse on the card. Your own particular set of red zone goals should be based on your handicap. If you are a low single digit, this is your “go zone”, where you feel like you can take it right at the flag and give yourself a decent birdie putt, with bogeys being an unpleasant surprise. For mid-handicap players, it’s where you should feel confident you’ll guarantee a par and rarely make bogey, and for higher handicap players, it’s where you will ensure a bogey at least, give yourself a good chance at par, and maybe even a birdie.
But regardless of your handicap, your own “red zone” should begin when you can put a high loft club in your hands – one with over 40 degrees of loft. Of course, that has changed a lot with the continual strengthening of irons. In my early days that was an eight iron, then it migrated to a nine. But regardless of your handicap or the make and model of irons you play, my contention is that golf is relatively “defensive” with all the other clubs in your bag. With those lower lofted irons, your goal should be to just keep it out of trouble and moving closer to the goal line . . . er, the flag. Even the PGA Tour pros make a very small percentage of their birdies with their middle irons.
When you can put a high loft club in your bag – whether that’s from 150 yards or 105 – that’s when you should feel like you can put your offense into high gear and raise your expectations. It’s no longer about power, because this isn’t about raw distance, but rather distance control and precision. From the red zone, it’s about trusting your technique and your equipment and taking it to the golf course a little bit.
As most of us are in the early stages of the 2021 golf season, one of the best things you can do for your golf improvement is to begin tracking your “red zone” performance. Put the numbers down as to how you are scoring the golf course from your 9-iron range on into the flag. My guess is that you’ll see this is where you can make the most improvement if you’ll give that part of your game some additional time and focus. Any golfer can learn to hit crisp and accurate short range approach shots. And so you should.
Pay attention to your own red zone stats, and work to improve them. I guarantee you that you’ll see your scores come down quickly.
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