Bryson DeChambeau plans to bask in the glory of being a major champion. But not for too long. He already has his sights set on his next equipment experiment.
Less than an hour after the final putt had dropped at Winged Foot, DeChambeau was asked if the biggest win of his career validated all of the changes he’d made to his swing, physique and equipment during quarantine.
“Absolutely,” he said. “And I’m not going to stop.”
What’s terrifying (if you’re one of DeChambeau’s playing competitors) is he appears more than willing to make good on that promise — starting this week. DeChambeau has admitted on numerous occasions that he still has something left in the tank. He wants to get bigger and find another gear when it comes to the hurt he unleashes on the golf ball.
Getting bigger is a distinct possibility. So, too, is making additional adjustments to the Cobra King SpeedZone driver he used to gain five strokes on the field during the U.S. Open. The club gives DeChambeau a significant advantage over the field. But if DeChambeau has it his way, the distance advantage will become more pronounced with the help of a 48-inch shaft.
“How amazing would it be to rein that in?” DeChambeau asked aloud in 2019. The quote is in reference to DeChambeau’s dream of combining long-drive speed with tour-level accuracy. It’s the closest thing to a cheat code in pro golf. Phil Mickelson and a handful of others have tried and failed to go longer in shaft length and keep it on the map.
Even with a history of failed attempts, DeChambeau believes it’s still worth pushing forward to see if he can swing it like long-drive champions Kyle Berkshire and Justin James.
“[T]hey all inspired me to try and go harder at it,” DeChambeau said of the long-drive specialists. “They are the ones breaking the barriers. I can see what is possible.”
According to DeChambeau, the plan is to test Cobra drivers featuring a custom 48-inch LA Golf prototype shaft that was recently produced. DeChambeau also hinted he’ll likely make some adjustments to the “face to account for the new speed that I’m going at.”
“We’re going to be messing with some head designs and do some amazing things with Cobra to make it feasible to hit these drives maybe 360 [yards], 370, maybe even farther,” he revealed. “I don’t know.”
DeChambeau is talking about head-spinning numbers, but the bigger question is whether he’ll be able to do what Phil and other before him were unable to accomplish and keep the ball in play on a consistent basis. Generating additional speed shouldn’t be a problem for DeChambeau with the longer shaft. That said, there’s no question the timing will take some getting used to.
DeChambeau’s current driver is built at 45.75 inches, which means he’ll be testing a club that’s 2.25 inches longer than what he’s accustomed to playing. For those wondering how the additional shaft weight (due to the length) will affect the overall weight of the club, DeChambeau’s feathery Cobra driver head is already equipped with two 2-gram weights, which mean he won’t have to sweat the extra mass.
The goal of the project is to maximize the additional clubhead speed being produced by the 48-inch shaft. While it sounds simple enough, going longer typically magnifies the misses and makes it more difficult to square the face on a regular basis, thus increasing the chances of a wayward tee shot.
There’s a reason why most tour players use driver shafts that hover around 45 inches; it’s easier to control and rely on in a pressure situation. Then again, DeChambeau has never done anything by the book with his gear. More often than not, the unconventional gear has paid off — whether it be a driver with 5.5 degrees of loft, prototype 2-woods, single-length irons or an entire set of graphite-shafted clubs, putter included.
“I think I’m definitely changing the way people think about the game,” DeChambeau said on Sunday. “I hope that inspires people to say, ‘Hey, look, maybe there is a different way to do it.’ Not everybody has to do it my way. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying in general that there are different ways to do things. If you can find your own way, find your passion—like Arnie said, swing your swing. That’s what I do.”
In other words, don’t bet against DeChambeau finding a way to make a 48-inch driver shaft work.