Those waiting for Bryson DeChambeau to rail against the governing bodies for wanting to limit the length of driver shafts will be sorely disappointed.
“I think it’s a really cool thought process,” DeChambeau told reporters Wednesday at the European Tour’s Saudi International. “It’s a little flattering in a sense, because I did talk about that 48-inch driver for so long, and it just didn’t work for me the way I wanted it to. As it’s played out, I think it’s really cool to see that there’s some change off of the conversations that I’ve had, and it’s just pretty interesting to me.”
DeChambeau reached out to the USGA’s John Bodenhamer and Jason Gore following the release Tuesday of three proposed changes by the governing bodies that will look to curb distance at the elite level. One of those changes, a reduction in maximum shaft length from 48 inches to 46, seemed to be a direct result of DeChambeau’s boundary-pushing distance, after he overhauled his body and game in late 2019. Though he has experimented at home with a 48-inch driver – he wanted to put it in play for the 2020 Masters, but wasn’t ready – he couldn’t find the proper clubhead and is sticking with his 45 ½-inch model.
Averaging more than 329 yards off the tee, DeChambeau currently leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, just as he did last season (322.1).
After speaking with the USGA, DeChambeau was heartened to hear that the governing bodies have no intention of “taking out the human element” as they try to protect the integrity of the game.
“If someone was trying to go for the 48 for them, they could gain six, seven miles an hour pretty quickly, and now it’s not a possibility,” he said. “I think it’s going to be more difficult for people to gain speed easily. They are going to have to work really hard, just like I have. For me right now, I feel like it’s a pretty good advantage from the way I look at it.”
Though the proposed change might not affect DeChambeau's current equipment setup, it would lead to a change for Phil Mickelson, who put a 47 1/2-inch driver in play late last year. Mickelson hadn't heard about the rules announcement until a reporter asked him about it in his pre-tournament press conference Wednesday.
"I want to read about it and know it is that they are proposing before I comment," he said.