We know Bryson DeChambeau is in training. We know he decided not to play any golf between the Shriners two weeks ago and the Masters two weeks from now. And we know that, according to the photo he posted on Instagram a couple days ago, he just flew the ball 400 yards. Flew. In the air.
Now we have a slightly better sense of what that might look like on the golf course.
In a video posted by DeChambeau’s coach Mike Schy to Instagram, DeChambeau is posted up on a tee box, what looks like a right-to-left dogleg, holding driver.
“208!” he yells, then motions to one of the cameramen behind him.
“I don’t wanna kill ya,” he says, to laughter. “Don’t get sucked into the vortex!”
At least, that’s my best guess at what DeChambeau says. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC is blaring in the background, so it’s hard to know for sure.
Then he swings, and whoa. It’s different. It doesn’t look like how you expect a pro golfer’s driver swing to look. It’s faster, and stronger, and has a far bigger grunt associated with it. He yells something else, which might have been, “Beat that!” but might not have been — you judge for yourself. Check it out:
But the scene is familiar. It’s reminiscent of a World Long Drive event, with the music and the crowd and the absolute maxed-out throttling of the golf ball. There’s serious powerlifter energy in the air, too, and DeChambeau is there to put on a show — the whir of a flying drone plus the camera crew and audio guys confirm that.
Presumably DeChambeau’s scream of “208!” is referring to miles per hour ball speed, which is a number certainly well in range of the top Long Drive competitors. For reference, average ball speed on the PGA Tour is just under 170 mph, while last year’s leader, Cameron Champ, averaged 189. DeChambeau averaged 184.7, although he had the top number recorded when he hit 197.6 in a Tour event.
It’s impossible to know what to expect from DeChambeau when he returns at the Masters because we’ve never seen someone prepare for a professional golf tournament quite like this. We’re watching DeChambeau change his game in real time, challenge the status quo, experiment and take risks even as he enters as a tournament favorite.
“This is also how Hogan prepared for the Masters,” writer Brendan Porath quipped on Twitter.
“This is amazing. Is Triple H going to caddie for him?” Eddie Pepperrell responded. That about summed up social media’s reaction.
So what do we know for sure? We know Augusta National rewards distance, and we know there are places on the course where there’s room to miss with driver. We know that new 13th tee won’t be in play yet this year, and that even if it was, DeChambeau would have a very short club left for his second shot (if he can find the fairway). We know November is supposed to be slightly colder and wetter than typical April Masters weather, and that Fred Couples and Tiger Woods have talked about hitting 3-wood approaches into par-4s. We know that DeChambeau will only hit a 3-wood into a par-4 if he’s driving the green, or if his tee shot has just hit a tree and ricochets backwards. We know that DeChambeau just won his last major championship start by six shots.
And we know that we don’t quite know what’s coming next.