Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Bryson DeChambeau: What makes 'The Scientist' tick?

Major winner and regular contender, physics graduate DeChambeau is the biggest hitter on the PGA Tour. Find out about his approach to golf, and his feud with Brooks Koepka.
By Rory Jiwani

Bryson DeChambeau is not your average golfer.

Known as 'The Scientist' for his analytical approach to golf, DeChambeau has become the longest driver on the PGA Tour thanks to an intensive weight-gain and muscle-building programme.

While he is yet to add to his one major success at the 2020 U.S. Open, the 27-year-old did win March's Arnold Palmer Invitational and is a firm fixture in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings.

DeChambeau was set to go to the Olympic Games after Dustin Johnson declined his invitation, but a positive Covid test ruled him out of Tokyo.

Now he is gearing up for his second Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits where he will bid to make amends for his disappointing debut in Paris three years ago.

The rookie did not even manage a half in his three matches, suffering heavy foursome defeats in partnership with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods respectively, before going down on the final hole in the last singles rubber against Alex Noren.

He will be hoping for much better in Wisconsin, but he and Brooks Koepka have had to try and diffuse their long-running feud ahead of the sport's most high-profile team competition.

Read on for five things you should know about Bryson DeChambeau.

Bryson DeChambeau during round two of the 2021 TOUR Championship
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

1. Bryson DeChambeau the maths prodigy

Bryson James Aldrich DeChambeau was born on 16 September 1993 in Modesto, California to John Howard Aldrich DeChambeau and Janet Louise Drufell.

At six, DeChambeau was something of a child genius having mastered mental arithmetic and started learning algebra.

That love of numbers stayed with him and he majored in physics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He was also a high-achiever in golf at high school, winning the 2010 California State Junior Championship before making the move to Texas.

DeChambeau continued his progress while at college, shooting a tournament and course record 61 to help lead the United States to the 2014 World Amateur Team title in Karuizawa, Japan.

The following year, he won the NCAA Championship men's title by one stroke from subsequent Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist CT Pan.

That saw him became just the fifth golfer to win the U.S. Amateur and NCAA titles in the same years joining Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004).

2. Why is Bryson DeChambeau known as 'The Scientist'?

DeChambeau's physics degree is only part of the basis for his nickname which has sometimes been changed to 'The Mad Scientist'.

The main reason is his painstaking approach to the game, sparked by being gifted Homer Kelley's book 'The Golfing Machine' by his instructor Mike Schy.

His obsessive attention to detail has seen him make all his irons the same length as his favourite 7-iron, so he can more easily replicate the same swing, and put thick grips on all his clubs.

When the rules changed to allow players to leave the pin in the hole for putts, DeChambeau set out to assess the relative merits of the flagsticks.

He told golf.com in October 2020, "In U.S. Opens, I’ll take it out, and every other Tour event, when it’s fibreglass, I’ll leave it in and bounce that ball against the flagstick if I need to."

In the past, his innovations have put him at odds with the United States Golf Association.

In 2017, he experimented with 'side-saddle' putting - standing almost behind the ball and using something akin to a croquet stroke - which Sam Snead employed near the end of his career.

DeChambeau putts 2017 Sony Open
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

After two months, he abandoned it saying, "The USGA essentially doesn’t like me doing it. I’m pretty much done with it. They’re not a good organization, and you can quote me on that."

He later retracted those comments.

The following year, he incurred the USGA's wrath again when using a drawing compass on course to help work out where to land the ball on the green.

DeChambeau, who was spotted with it at the 2018 Travelers Championship, admitted he had done so for a couple of years but had to stop when the USGA ruled it illegal.

Bryson DeChambeau holding a drawing compass at the 2018 Travelers Championship
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

His current locked-arm putting method has also sparked debate with the likes of Rory McIlroy saying it should be banned.

Dechambeau told golf.com, "My first experiment with the arm-lock method came in 2017 when I tried a side-saddle technique. Just because the technique didn’t stick, that experiment wasn’t a failure.

"Going through that process allowed me to learn from it and develop the technique that I use today. Standing a little closer to the ball, with the putter shaft more upright, will reduce the arc the putterhead traces. It’ll swing more straight back and straight through."

With his endless quest for perfection, expect more innovations as the years go by.

"My goal in playing golf and playing this game is to try and figure it out. I'm just trying to figure out this very complex, multivariable game, and multidimensional game as well. It's very, very difficult. It's a fun journey for me."

Bryson DeChambeau putts during the 2021 TOUR Championship
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

3. Bigger, stronger, faster

DeChambeau has bulked up drastically in recent years in order to hit the ball further.

And, in trademark fashion, there are no half-measures to his approach.

In July 2020, he said, "In the mornings I usually have four eggs, five pieces of bacon, some toast and two protein shakes – two Orgain protein shakes. And then throughout the course of the day I’ll have a GoMacro bar here and there, I’ll have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"I’ll have another protein drink, I’ll have at least two protein drinks on the golf course. So every six holes, so 6, 12 and then after the round I’ll have one.

“After that I’m snacking when I’m practising after. Go back to the hotel, eat a dinner. Steak, potatoes then I’ll have two protein shakes with it there as well."

It all adds up to a daily calorie intake of 3,500, far more than the average man's count of 2,500.

Of course, he has been burning that energy and claimed to have put on 20 pounds (9kg) of muscle just before his first major triumph at the 2020 U.S. Open.

He gives the ball an almighty wallop off the tee and that has translated into a big increase in average driving distance (20 yards up on the previous year) with his logic being that the further you hit the ball off the tee, the easier everything else becomes.

It worked to perfection at Winged Foot where, despite only hitting 23 of 56 fairways during the week, he walked off with his first major. In his favour was that fairways were hard to find even for the shorter hitters, so his approaches from closer in gave him a better chance of making up shots (which he did).

His attempts to overpower Augusta at the Masters backfired, but don't bet against him getting it right in the future. He is nothing if not meticulous.

DeChambeau's dedication to long hitting has seen him sign up the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship in Nevada days after the conclusion of the Ryder Cup.

For that competition, he has asked his club manufacturers to come up with a driver which will sacrifice accuracy for distance.

The practice has taken a toll with DeChambeau showing off calluses on his hands during an interview with golf.com earlier this month.

He said, "My hands are wrecked from it. People don’t realise how difficult a long drive really is.

"How do I train my body in a way where those guys are training the same way and they’re seeing speed gains? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I’ve been inquiring a lot to see what they think."

Bryson DeChambeau at the 2018 Northern Trust Open and the 2021 TOUR Championship
Picture by Getty Images

4. What caused the feud between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka?

DeChambeau's meticulous approach has often resulted in slow play, something which has attracted the ire of his rivals.

At the Northern Trust Open in August 2019, Justin Thomas was clearly annoyed by how long his playing partner took to line up a putt with fellow golfers weighing in to criticise DeChambeau.

Brooks Koepka was one of those which resulted in an exchange of views.

While they later downplayed that incident, Koepka's appearance in the ESPN Body Issue took the beef to a new level with DeChambeau slating his rival's appearance.

On his Twitch gaming stream in January 2020 - username 'thebadone23' - he said, "I don’t know if his genetics even make him look good, to be honest. In that Body Issue, he didn’t have any abs, I can tell you that. I got some abs."

Koepka retaliated by showing off his four major trophies and saying he was "2 short of a 6 pack".

After the occasional jab, the row escalated again at May's PGA Championship where Koepka lost his "train of thought" while being interviewed, apparently annoyed by the sound of DeChambeau's metal golf spikes.

The four-time major winner swore and rolled his eyes dramatically with the video, which was not broadcast, being leaked on social media.

The war of words continued when Koepka apologised to NFL star Aaron Rodgers for DeChambeau being his playing partner in the latest instalment of 'The Match' starring Phil Mickelson and other celebrities.

That sparked this exchange.

That video, of DeChambeau becoming annoyed at a fan calling him "Brooksy", led to copycat incidents with three fans chucked out of June's Memorial Tournament for chanting his rival's name.

Koepka has fanned the flames in recent months, offering free beer via one of his sponsors to anyone who got thrown out of a tournament for shouting "Brooksy", and then trolling DeChambeau over his split with caddie Tim Tucker, and problems with his driver.

United States Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker admitted in June, "It’s not making my job any easier. I haven’t talked to either one of them. I will have to at some point. We’ll see where it goes from there. Hopefully, they can put their differences aside for the week, be big boys and come together as a team."

The pair have agreed a ceasefire for the Ryder Cup, but how long that will last is anyone's guess.

Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau ahead of the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Picture by AR

5. What kind of cap does Bryson DeChambeau wear?

Bryson DeChambeau is one of the few players to wear what is known as a Hogan cap made famous by nine-time major winner and post-war golf hero Ben Hogan.

However, he says he wears it in honour of Payne Stewart who won three major titles before his tragic death in a plane crash in October 1999.

DeChambeau only dons it in competition, employing a baseball cap in practice.

Payne Stewart putts at the 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club
Picture by Jon Ferry/Allsport

Like Stewart, DeChambeau went to Southern Methodist University.

When he won his first PGA Tour title at the John Deere Classic in July 2017, DeChambeau burst into tears when he was told that Stewart had claimed his maiden PGA Tour win in the 1982 edition.

Bryson DeChambeau after winning the 2017 John Deere Classic
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

While DeChambeau has not gone the whole hog by wearing Stewart's trademark plus-four knickerbockers yet, it might happen in the future.

Speaking after that maiden PGA Tour win, he said, "I love the way he looked out there. I was hoping to do some plus fours on tour; I just didn't want to do it too early and have people go, ‘Who is this guy? Why is he wearing these things out here?’ In due time I think that'll happen in the right situation because he's done a lot for the game.

"Payne definitely meant a lot to me in my life, and hopefully I can kind of follow in his footsteps."