March 30, 2024

As is frequently the case, Bryson DeChambeau’s problem is that he is partially correct. Which regrettably implies that he is somewhat mistaken. I may be alluding to a number of the most intriguing and perceptive things done over the career of the most fascinating guy in golf (single-length irons, sidesaddle putting, expanding the game by joining LIV).


Even DeChambeau admits as much, admitting that his obsession with bulking up and drinking eight protein shakes a day was a bad idea that made him three times more likely to have a heart attack than live to be 100 years old.


However, his most recent video on his YouTube channel, in which he plays nine holes with a rolled back golf ball, illustrates the difficulties he believes he would have when forced to practice his craft at a reduced distance.


Haskell Wexler is not a golfer, but the 26-minute exercise in golfing cinema verite is notable for DeChambeau’s signature explosive shotmaking. The guy may have lost a little weight, but he still makes contact with the ball in the same manner as Dalton did when it came down to close out at the Double Deuce.


Playing the front nine from Dallas National Golf Club’s back tees (3,635 yards) with an unidentified Nike One Tour ball is DeChambeau’s quasi-scientific theory. The idea is to demonstrate how difficult it will be for him to play with a ball that, in his opinion, complies with the regulations even after the new overall distance standard test is modified.

The USGA’s equipment technical team thinks that this modification, which raises the club head speed from 120 mph to 125 mph, will cause the fastest swingers in the game to lose 15 yards of distance.



High tech can be used to begin ball fits, but the true solutions are always found on the course.


Although it’s unclear from the video which version of the Nike One Tour Bryson is using, the balls Tiger Woods used in his prime were thought to be spinnier in response to his requests.


It’s also probably true that the ball Bryson plays with now, the Titleist Pro V1x (“Left Dash”), has a lower compression (softer) than any Nike One model. That ball has one of the greatest compression levels among tour-level balls in the game, and in general, the best way to maximize distance is to combine higher compression with extremely fast swing speeds. On the other hand, a very high swing speed combined with a relatively low compression is not the best combination for distance.

A long drive guy teed up a much, much softer compression ball (more like in the 50s or 60s in terms of a number), according to a story I had heard. The ball appeared to have been deflated after three swings.


Rob Carr Bryanson didn’t really see this kind of thing. He was still hitting the ball at a healthy 187 mph, which is roughly 14 mph quicker than the PGA Tour average right now. He claims that he can generate greater ball speed with his present ball, and he shows ball speeds in the 190s in the video.


In contrast to the findings of the USGA scientists, DeChambeau’s video appeared to indicate that he was losing 20 yards or more when using the outdated Nike ball. Even so, a 5 mph drop in ball speed might result in at least 12 to 15 yards.


He was also generating less spin on many of his iron strokes and tee shots than ideal, according to his GC Quad launch monitor, which accompanied him on every shot.


More than 3,000 rpm for a driver (DeChambeau’s speed is probably optimal in the low 2,000s) and more than 7,000 rpm for a 7-iron (Bryson claims this is excessive for him, but it’s actually around where current PGA Tour averages sit).


More spin from the golf ball at really high speeds can typically also shorten the overall distance. By decreasing the outermost layers’ density or specific gravity, new balls could be made to spin faster. As a result, the ball could become less stable and spin more erratically during full strokes. Whether this is the case with the old Nike ball in Bryson’s “test” is unclear.


What huge catastrophe did Bryson encounter during his dead-ball experience? Is he failing to make lengthy par fours in two shots? Does he have a par 5? Is he not able to carry par-3s over deep ravines? No. No.


Furthermore, no. Although Bryson refers to the use of the rolled back ball as “ridiculous” following another drive of more than 300 yards, it is important to note that he reached the two par 5s (552 and 554 yards) fairly easily, drove a par four (340 yards), and the longest iron he used into a par 4 was an 8-iron that was sawed off, or “10 o’clock” in his words, on the 475-yard eighth hole. He did, however, hit a 7-iron to 15 feet on the 225-yard sixth hole. How pitiful humanity is!


The rolled back ball will undoubtedly play shorter. What is unclear is how engineers of golf balls and clubs may address this power shortage, something that Bryson’s Mr. Science film does not even attempt to explain, comprehend, or even entertain.


It’s possible that a golf ball from the 2008 generation was designed so shoddily that it still met the rolled back criterion. (I really doubt it, but there’s a discussion for another day, considering that it was created by one of the two or three most significant and accomplished golf ball technologists in contemporary history, the ever inventive Rock Ishii.


Let’s just add this, though, while we’re at it: Bryson’s ball may not even be short enough to meet the new requirement. His assessment of the old and new balls’ speeds reveals a 5–6 mph difference in ball speed. Actually, the new balls could lose at least 7-8 mph more. He’s Mr. Science, not me, though.)


Apart from that, it’s also important to note that the detrimental effects of higher spin are less pronounced at average golfer swing speeds (low 90s).


For this reason, the USGA’s research indicates that the impact on recreational players will be negligible, possibly only five yards on the driver, especially if the new designs targeted at less-than-elite players only slightly soften the core’s resilience.


Even the USGA scientists are of the opinion that very little will happen to most of the other clubs in your bag.


Furthermore—a point that Bryson doesn’t appear to understand completely—it’s probably preferable to dumb down the aerodynamics of the rolled back ball so that it loses efficiency later in flight. It will impact all the clubs in the bag if you decide to shorten a ball by merely weakening the rubber core, and it will be more challenging to assist a player in learning how to get greater distance out of the ball.


As a result, it’s feasible that the new balls won’t have as much of an adverse influence on ball speed, as Bryson’s testing at Dallas National partially demonstrated. Or perhaps more accurately said, less of a negative impact if you are able to produce ultra-elite level swing speed, like Bryson does.


To put it briefly, the “restrictor plate” golf ball will encourage golfers to acquire stratospheric swing speeds more than all the new drivers produced over the last three decades combined—a finding originally made public many months ago by renowned biomechanist Sasho Mackenzie.


Still, there are a few unanswered concerns in his made-for-YouTube fiasco that appear to be more unproven than the paid mid-swing promotion of the AG1 supplement he currently consumes with relative impunity.


For example, I’m curious whether he’s thought about the potential that he wasn’t suited for this specific golf ball or that he didn’t match this specific golf ball to his existing driver setup, which includes loft, CG position, shaft, etc.


Furthermore, it doesn’t appear that the Mad Scientist has given any thought to the possibility that a 15-year-old golf ball may have lost some of its resilience over time—that is, that it would have degraded slower than it was in its pristine state—unless it had been hermetically sealed and maintained in a temperature-controlled and climate-controlled environment for every second.


Ultimately, even though it was evidently not his intention (“Do you believe we should roll the golf ball back? DeChambeau’s video may have done more to tip the scales in favor of a rollback than any comment made by the game’s regulating bodies in the previous 25 years.



“Everything I saw today, from my perspective, I personally wouldn’t want it.” The USGA and R&A ought to simply click “Like” and “Subscribe” and stop talking.

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