It’s hardly breaking news that Bryson DeChambeau does things differently than other PGA Tour players. Much of the time, that’s a good thing — clearly, his outside-the-box thinking has paid dividends on the golf course. But his on-course intensity, his stream-of-consciousness monologues and, well, stuff like the ant incident have made DeChambeau a lightning rod for criticism, too.
DeChambeau reads your comments. They don’t make him happy. And he’s trying to make some changes as a result.
On this week’s Drop Zone podcast (listen here!), DeChambeau joined me for over an hour to cover a wide variety of topics — including how he handles negative feedback.
“I just want people to realize that I’m trying to do good for the game,” he said. He emphasized several times that he wants his own transformation to inspire people to make changes in their own lives, and that he hopes his own approach can add fun, excitement and even simplicity to the game — even if he gets pretty in the weeds to track down any “simple” answers.
On social media, DeChambeau doesn’t hide behind agents or management teams. He will scroll his own Instagram page; he’ll respond to fans and critics himself. As a result, he knows when the congratulations are rolling in and he knows when the critiques are, too.
“So whenever people are saying things, I’m sad!” he said. “I’m really sad because I want people to know that I’m trying to do my best for the game of golf, and there’s going to be people who say that I’m doing the worst thing for the game. And I understand that. But they come from a different perspective, and I respect that. I have no issue with that.”
So how do you filter through a sea of notifications? How does a big-time professional athlete make any sense of his mentions?
“I personally think this is an opportunity for someone like myself to learn from somebody else’s perspective, to see their perspective and go, ‘Okay, I see why you’re saying that. Let me try and help. Let me try and help see that viewpoint a little better, make some changes in my own life that will give you a better perspective on what I’m trying to do. So it’s an opportuntiy for me to grow as well; when I see these comments I go, ‘Okay, why are they saying this? How can I make that change so they can appreciate what I’m doing, not hate what I’m doing?'”
Yeah, you heard that right: DeChambeau actually wants to learn something from internet commenters. It may be his biggest challenge yet.
I asked him for specifics. Has he made any concrete changes based off feedback? He nodded.
“Whenever I make these frustrated comments, like, ‘Gosh, dang it!’ or ‘Come on, Tim!’ or something like that, it’s never about Tim’s [his caddie’s] fault. It’s never about blaming somebody else. It’s the frustration of, ‘Man, I put so much effort into this and I didn’t get the result that I want. Gosh dang it.’ That’s really what it is. But to other people it looks like I’m whining.
“And it looks like it’s, ‘Oh, he’s a crybaby,’ all this stuff, and when I heard that, when I saw that — and this is before the PGA, that’s when things started changing for me, my attitude – I said, y’know what? I’m going to make a change. I’m going to make people realize that I do care about the game, but there’s more to it than just reacting in that fashion. So I have made some changes and I really appreciate the fans and the people that are doing that, because it helps refine me as a human being, too.”
You can see the rest of the interview below. (DeChambeau’s remarks on criticism come at the 19:30 mark.)