A pull cart, pouting and ‘striping’: What it was like to recruit Bryson DeChambeau

Josh Gregory had just been hired at SMU, the Mustangs’ cupboard was bare, and he jumped on this tip from a friend. Doing something he says he had never done as a college golf coach, Gregory offered this kid from California a full ride over the phone. “Sight unseen,” he said. 

And when he ‘sight-saw’ Bryson DeChambeau the next day?

“So I go out there and I see this kid with a pull cart — now nobody’s got pull carts at this time; this is 2011,” Gregory said. “… He’s got his Payne Stewart hat on. He’s got all the irons the same length. At this time, he’s swinging zero-shift plane — I think it’s what he was calling it because the club never — anyway, it wasn’t even one plane; it was wacko. 

“But he’s striping. He didn’t hit it anywhere, but he absolutely striped it. And when I say the worst attitude I’ve ever seen, I mean the worst attitude I’ve ever seen — banging clubs, swearing, pouting, looks like the biggest 3-year-old you’ve ever seen.

“But I don’t care. Because you know what, I can fix that.” 

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Before he won an NCAA title at SMU, and before he won the U.S. Amateur later that summer, and before he won the U.S. Open and before the bulk-up and Bryson and Brooks, DeChambeau was a talented junior from the Fresno area. And this week on GOLF’s Subpar podcast, Gregory described how he landed him over a few of college golf’s heavyweights. 

“[My friend] said, hey, there’s this kid in California you ought to check out,” Gregory said. “He said he’s different, but he’s not probably well liked, he’s a little different cat, he’s got a bad attitude, all these things, but he said he’s probably right up your alley. And I said all right, give me his name. So he told me Bryson DeChambeau. I looked up his results; they were really good. 

“So I did something I’ve never done in my entire life — I picked up the phone, I called Bryson and I said, hey, Bryson, my name is Josh Gregory, you don’t know me, I don’t know you, I just won two national championships at Augusta, I’m going to SMU and I’m going to rebuild this program as fast as I can. And I said I’m going to offer you a full scholarship over the phone, sight unseen. 

“And the kid almost starts crying because he didn’t come from any money, he was being recruited by UCLA, Stanford, Washington, everybody on the West Coast, and his dream was to go to Stanford. And I knew the only way I could beat Stanford was to get in early. They have the ultimate trump card — they have Tiger Woods, they have one of the best universities, and it’s maybe the greatest place to play college golf; it’s awesome; best facility; it’s incredible. So I said I’m flying out to the Junior World tomorrow to watch you at Torrey Pines, I’m only coming out there to watch you, and that’s it. I have no idea what I’m getting.”

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And then he quickly did. But why did Gregory stick with DeChambeau after the initial “3-year-old” assessment?

“Because you know what, I can fix that,” Gregory said. “First of all, he can play, but I can coach that; I can fix that. I can’t coach 76 into 68. But I can coach 68 into 65 with having a good attitude and learning how to play the game. 

“So I’ll never forget I had a coach who I won’t mention who said, why are you taking that kid? I said, what are you talking about? Why wouldn’t I? He has a 4.0 in the classroom, and he shoots 68 every time he tees it up. All I got to do is keep him out of trouble and get him to the tee on time, and he’ll be just fine. So there’s nothing wrong with that. I have no trouble with bad attitudes and that. That’s stuff that you can work and you can coach. 

“At least it shows he cares.”

For the complete Subpar interview with Gregory, please click below.   

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.