The evolution of Bryson DeChambeau’s driver at the World Long Drive

The 4.5-degree sticker affixed to Bryson DeChambeau’s Cobra Radspeed driver would look out of place on a PGA Tour range in a sea of 9- and 10.5-degree heads. But on this particular week, he’s just another long drive basher with a sub-5-degree head and aspirations of taking home the World Long Drive title in Mesquite, Nevada.

For the moment, DeChambeau’s dream is still alive after advancing to Day 2 of qualifying at the event. He even managed to touch 214 mph ball speed during warmups, a number that puts him in the conversation to make some noise and possibly crack the top 10 against some of the longest hitters in the world, including former champion — and fellow Cobra staffer — Kyle Berkshire.

“It was amazing — hitting it over 400 a couple times,” DeChambeau told GOLF.com. “I felt like I just won something — like I won a big PGA tournament — even though I only qualified for the next day, because that was my first time. I’d never hit on that grid, that was my first time going out there and hitting.”

If DeChambeau is going to contend the rest of the way, he’ll need his Cobra driver to produce some gargantuan numbers. As you’d expect, the driver he’s wielding this week is a modified version of the head he typically uses on a week-to-week basis on tour. The most obvious modification is a decrease in loft from 5.5 to 4.5 degrees to keep DeChambeau’s spin rate in check.

Bryson DeChambeau hold finish after drive at 2021 Tour Championship
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“Using a driver with less than 5 degrees is fairly common on the long drive circuit,” said Tom Olsavsky, Cobra’s VP of research and design. “The longer shaft is going to increase launch, so you’re trying to do whatever it takes to keep the ball flight playable at those speeds because spin is not your friend.”

Of course, decreasing loft isn’t the only modification.

When you’re dealing with one of the most exacting players in the sport, there’s more to building a custom long drive club than simply reducing loft. According to Cobra’s Mike Yagley, who worked directly with DeChambeau on the driver for this week, the bulge on the face was moved to 13 and a slight tweak was made to the tail-weighting to help stabilize the head and optimize launch conditions.

Cobra also chose to remove the standard titanium face found on the retail Radspeed product and replace it with a sturdy 15-3-3-3 Beta Titanium alloy to handle repeated blows over 140 mph.

James Colgan/GOLF

“It’s a durability play,” Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin told GOLF.com. “It feels different at tremendous speeds. It’s not a good or bad feel, just different. These guys can notice, but I’m not sure the average golfer could pick up on the difference.”

So far, the prototype driver has held up under the pressure. DeChambeau did switch heads midway through his set on Day 1, but it was only to get comfortable with the fresh head going nto today’s session.

Along with breaking in a new long drive-specific head, DeChambeau added a 48-inch LA Golf prototype shaft — he calls the 240 CPM product a “beast” — that’s considerably softer than what he currently plays to achieve a whip effect.

“The shaft won’t be as accurate,” DeChambeau told GOLF.com during the Tour Championship, “but that’s not the priority. What’s important is the shaft won’t change my spin rates, which could equate to a distance loss. It’s all about creating more effortless speed.”

Effortless speed hasn’t been a problem for DeChambeau to this point. He’ll need to have more of that in the tank — and then some — if he hopes the make the finals.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.