WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Mike Schy has never been – well, shy – in predicting big things for Bryson DeChambeau.
The 2020 U.S. Open champion was Schy’s prized student, who won the NCAA men’s golf title and U.S. Amateur under his watchful eye at his performance institute – “we’re on our third tent,” he once told me – at Dragonfly Golf Club (formerly Riverbend Country Club) in Madera, California.
But the two took a break much like Ross and Rachel in the TV show “Friends,” during which DeChambeau bulked up and reached new heights with Chris Como. But last year, Schy and DeChambeau reunited, although as Schy explains, “he’ll never admit it,” and to that extent DeChambeau also counts on Dana Dahlquist for swing help.
Speaking at the PGA Merchandise Show’s Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Club, Schy is borderline giddy when the topic of DeChambeau’s prospects for 2024 are raised. Schy tired of Tour life and traveling as part of DeChambeau’s entourage early in his pro career, but he says, “I want to be at a major this year, maybe the Masters, because he’s going to win a major this year. He’s going to win more than one more major, I’m just not calling multiples this year.”
Why is Schy so sure that DeChambeau is on the verge of taking his game to another level this year? To explain, he circles back to October when he went to Miami to see DeChambeau, who defected to LIV in June 2022, play. Schy was curious to see what a LIV event looked like and he got a lot more than he anticipated.
“So, I’m out there at the pro-am on Thursday, and he’s not hitting it well. His driver flattened a bit in Saudi Arabia and he was hooking it again. He got that figured out but he’s clearly not happy with the way he’s hitting it. You know how he gets,” Schy says. “I don’t say anything unless he asks. He called Dana (Dahlquist) at one point and hung up on him. He called me over from 60 yards away and said, ‘Mike, why am I hitting it bad?’ I said, ‘Well…’ I determined his ball position was too far back. He said, ‘You think it’s that simple?’ I said, ‘All day you’ve been saying it should be simple. What’s simpler than changing ball position?’ This is right after he hit it fat in the water. He hits a couple and it’s better. He says, ‘It feels like I have more turn.’”
One day later, Schy continues, he’s in the lockerroom conversing with DeChambeau about his old swing and DeChambeau commented that what he used to do was wrong.
“That really bugged me. I didn’t sleep that night. I even texted him some stuff that Homer (Kelley, famous for The Golf Machine) had said about ball position,” Schy recalls. “I walked into the locker room and it’s just him and I, and I said, ‘You know, dude, you were the consummate hitter. Now you’ve worked on this long drive thing and your right arm has moved into the front. You’ve gone from more of a hitting motion to more of a swinging motion. You can’t have the ball back in your stance in a swinging motion. Of course, he says, ‘I’ll have to think about that.’ ”
Schy notes that DeChambeau played well in Miami as DeChambeau’s Crushers won the Team Championship. A couple weeks later, DeChambeau gets back to Schy and tells him, “I figured it out. It’s all geometry.”
“I was laughing so hard,” Schy said. “He’s got to figure it out on his own. He can never give me any credit. I knew one thing, he’s always hated the ball forward. He’s always defaulted to moving it back.”
Schy’s story gives a window into the mind of DeChambeau but he’s just getting to why he’s predicting more majors in the future for DeChambeau. To do so, he backtracks to July.
“Do you know what bulge and roll are?” Schy asks. When I nod along, he purses his lips and says, “Sure, you do,” and then proceeds to give a lesson on how bulge is the curvature of the face from its heel to its toe, while roll is the curvature of the face from the crown to the sole. Schy continues pontificating for some time but as the announcers sometimes say, we’ll skip ahead in the action. On Friday night after making the cut at the British Open at Liverpool in July, DeChambeau phoned Schy and asked, “What do you think about bulge and roll?”
DeChambeau’s search for the perfect driver eventually aggravated his equipment sponsor Cobra — “he’s looking for a magic bullet,” Cobra’s Ben Schomin said a year ago — to the point that they parted ways with him. Being an equipment free agent freed up DeChambeau to go down more rabbit holes. The problem with his quest, as former long-drive champion Jason Zuback once said is, “the faster you move it, the more precise you need to be.”
Schy knew from experience that DeChambeau wouldn’t quit searching and he had his latest theory he wanted to test out.
“Bryson always wants to go to the super extreme and work his way back,” Schy said.
He told DeChambeau that Crank Golf, which specializes in drivers for long drive, had a model, the Formula Fire, with nine inches of bulge. DeChambeau said that wasn’t enough.
“I told him, that’s more than what you’re playing now,” Schy recalled.
Schy emailed Lance Reader at Crank at 6 a.m. that morning. Soon they were doing a group call with DeChambeau in England. “What do you have?” DeChambeau asked. “Well, what do you want?” Reader responded.
Crank sent DeChambeau a driver with 8 ½ inches of roll and bulge. A few days later he tested the club and it reduced the amount of curve on the ball. DeChambeau phoned Schy as if he’d just found the cure for cancer and said, “It’s not my swing, I knew it wasn’t my swing.”
The next day, he sent a file of TrackMan data to Schy and didn’t wait long before he phoned him to break it down. “Do you see it?” DeChambeau asked. “I reduced curve by 50 percent.” He added, “This is it.”
Ten days later in early August, DeChambeau shot 61-58 at The Greenbrier, making birdie at the final four holes to become the fourth player to shoot 58 in pro golf. DeChambeau bragged that his driver was a difference maker.
“It’s probably performed the best I’ve ever had in the past five years in professional golf for me, ever since 2018 when I was striping it early in the year,” he told the media.
Just a few weeks after Schy predicted bigger things ahead for DeChambeau, he flirted with the 50s again, settling for 62 at LIV Las Vegas. He closed in 74 on Saturday to drop to T-9, but Schy’s point is clear: armed with a driver he believes in, DeChambeau is primed to do damage and it’s why Schy is looking at airline reservations to Augusta.
After all, it’s all geometry.