Bryson DeChambeau's scientific rationale for changing golf balls at the WGC-Mexico Championship
Bryson DeChambeau has rightfully earned the title of “golf scientist” during his brief, but highly successful PGA Tour career. And he had plenty to say on the topic of how a golf ball behaves in thin air, leading to a ball change in Mexico. Others who made changes likely did so for different reasons, but were notable nonetheless, including yet another driver change for Dustin Johnson and a putter switch for Tommy Fleetwood.
Whether you hang on Bryson DeChambeau’s every word, or roll your eyes in disbelief when he uses big, scientific words, it’s almost always interesting. At the WGC-Mexico Championship, DeChambeau waxed on about the effect of atmospheric conditions on a golf ball.
“Spin rate on the golf ball changes dramatically in this type of air,” DeChambeau said in Mexico. “You’ve got this trajectory that keeps on going out there for a long time and it’s very, very interesting. For example, you can have 2,000 [rpms] spin, which is perfectly acceptable at sea level conditions, and 2,000 rpm spin with a lower launch [that] won’t go anywhere here. … Ball’s flying differently through the air because of spin, because of compression, because of a bunch of other things … it’s not just the altitude.”
Which might explain why DeChambeau switched to Bridgestone’s Tour B XS ball—the spinnier version of the company’s tour-caliber models. Of course, with DeChambeau, no change is guaranteed to last long. According to Bridgestone, DeChambeau has spoken about changing balls from round to round, depending on conditions. The change also is part of DeChambeau’s desire to see how different balls react around the greens in different conditions. Interesting, indeed.
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Dustin Johnson has played four PGA Tour events in 2019 and has changed drivers three times—and did so again last week. After starting the year with TaylorMade’s M5 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Johnson went to the company’s more forgiving M6 model at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and continued with that club at the Genesis Open. En route to victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship, however, Johnson went back to the TaylorMade M5, a club with more adjustable features, including two movable weights that Johnson set in a fairly neutral position—up front in the center track and in the rear of the center track. The move worked well for the WGC-Mexico champ, who gained a significant advantage off the tee at the Club de Golf Chapultepec.
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Last season Tommy Fleetwood ranked T-38 in strokes gained/putting, but tumbled to T-163rd entering this week. That prompted Fleetwood to make a putter change in Mexico, switching from one venerable putter to another. Fleetwood benched his Odyssey DFX 2-Ball blade (a model more than a decade old) that he used at the Genesis Open for an Odyssey White Hot Pro 3 blade (a putter introduced in 2013). The move worked, at least for this past week, as Fleetwood finished T-19, ranking 12th in the field in strokes gained/putting for the week.
Click here to shop the Odyssey White Hot Pro putter at Golf Galaxy.