Back9′s Top-10 Stories of 2015: No. 9, The Emergence of Bryson DeChambeau

With less than 10 days remaining in 2015, is counting down the top-10 golf stories of 2015, one per day until New Years Eve. The stories’ place on this list are a result of a criteria set forth by the writer based upon the impact each had on the golf world this year. Here, at No. 9, is The Emergence of Bryson DeChambeau. 

There is no cookie-cutter prototype that guarantees a golfer can reach an elite level within the game, but there do tend to be various factors that are common among the majority of the best players in the world. However, a case study of former Southern Methodist University golfer Bryson DeChambeau proves that there are multiple avenues for finding success.

A strong amateur golfer coming into his junior season at SMU, DeChambeau burst onto the national golf scene during the spring and summer of 2015 by winning the NCAA Individual title and the U.S. Amateur within the span of a few weeks, becoming just the fifth player to ever win both titles in the same year.

The others? Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004).

What ramped up DeChambeau’s amazing summer to a full-blown spectacle was the unorthodox nature he brings to the game. DeChambeau dons a Ben Hogan driving cap, uses a push cart and plays irons that are all the same length — 37½ inch clubs, the equivalent length of a 7-iron, for his 3-iron through 60-degree wedge. On the greens, DeChambeau employs Vector Putting, an approach that puts his physics major to the test wherein he takes into account the length of the putt, slope and speed of the green to determine his aim. He also uses a torque-balanced putter to keep his stroke square to his plane. 

Great players emerge from the college ranks on a yearly basis, but few have had the impact of DeChambeau. 

DeChambeau’s high-profile summer continued at the Walker Cup in September, where he won 2½ of a possible 3 points for a U.S. squad that was otherwise easily handled, losing 16½-9½ to Great Britain & Ireland.

Raising his profile further was the sanctions levied by the NCAA against SMU at the end of September for unethical conduct and recruiting. While DeChambeau and his teammates were cleared of wrongdoing — the penalty was a result of former head coach Josh Gregory’s indiscretions — they were affected as SMU was banned from postseason participation in 2016, meaning DeChambeau would not have been able to defend his NCAA Individual title.

As a result, DeChambeau announced that he would not be playing for the Mustangs in 2015-16, instead focusing on his career in the run up to the Masters and U.S. Open, tournaments that he received entry into because of his win at the U.S. Amateur with the caveat that he would not turn pro. 

Earning sponsors exemptions to professional events this fall, DeChambeau has continued to play well. His best finish was a tie for second place at the Australian Masters in November. He has also accepted an invitation to play in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February of 2016.


Back9′s Top-10 Stories of 2015:

No. 10: The Patrick Reed Saga