Welcome to Play Smart, a new game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Director of Game Improvement content Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bryson DeChambeau has a secret weapon this week, and it has nothing to do with his driver.
He hit it on the 10th hole on Thursday, his first hole of the day, setting-up a five-foot birdie opportunity.
He used it on the 12th hole, too, and then again on the 16th hole, setting up birdie looks on both occasions. For all the hype surrounding Bryson DeChambeau’s driver heading into the tournament, that club spent most of the day getting Bryson into trouble. And when he needed to bail himself out, he turned to his new go-to shot that never failed him.
DeChambeau played exactly zero practice rounds leading into the 2020 Masters following his U.S. Open win in September (excluding his four rounds in competition at the Shriners), in part because he wanted to spend the time perfecting his technique. The shot, is effectively a cross between a low-spinning chip shot and a stinger. A spinger, if you will.
“Professionals have to learn how to control the spin. This shot is the best way I can do that,” Bryson told GOLF.com following his first round.
The biggest difference between Bryson’s spinger and Tiger’s stinger is that Tiger almost exclusively hits his go-to shot with his long irons. It’s a shot designed to chase down the fairway. He moves the ball slightly further back in his stance as a result, but not overly. The ball is pretty much in the middle of his stance — the sweet spot that helps him hit it slightly lower without too much spin.
Bryson’s shot is very much a one best used hitting into greens. He want to hit the ball so it comes out hot, rises fast, then drops to earth suddenly and sticks without excess backspin. It’s why he almost exclusively hits the shot with short irons and wedges, and it’s why he plays the ball incedibly far back in his stance — almost in-line with toe of his trail foot.
“I don’t want my ball ripping backwards after it lands. I want to control the spin.” DeChambeau says. “I put it back in my stance to create a steeper angle of attack and less dynamic loft.”
Once he sets his ball position, he makes two final adjustments: He narrows his stance significantly — “that helps me not to rotate and shift [my weight]” he says — and he shortens his backswing to a three-quarter length. DeChambeau refers to this as his “9:30 backswing,” the position of his hands representing the hands on a clock.
The setup is, basically, exactly how you’d hit a low chip shot, but Bryson uses it for a full shots swings instead. The shot acts as a kind of fail-safe, one Bryson has come to depend on. Try it yourself and you’ll see why; there’s not much that can go wrong with it.
DeChambeau’s driver will grab the headlines this week, good or bad. But if he succeeds at the 2020 Masters, it may well be because of his trusty new shot that makes it all work.
How to hit Bryson’s ‘spinger’
- Ball off trail foot (right foot for right-handers, left for lefties).
- Narrow stance
- Shorten backswing.