Fun science experiments - How has Bryson DeChambeau brought physics to the fore in golf?

Bryson DeChambeau has revolutionised golf by applying the laws of physics, leading to great success, lots of prize money and place in the Ryder Cup!

You may wonder what science lessons we can learn from a simple round of golf? Most would not consider fun science experiments to have a large role in the game, but all golf players use physics as part of their game. Most do this almost naturally without thinking about it, but one revolutionary player has taken it a step further, resulting in huge success and a place in the US Ryder Cup team, which starts next week in Paris. 

Bryson DeChambeau has a Major in Physics and has become known as the “mad scientist” on the golf tour. Unique in his approach, utilising fun science experiments within his game, DeChambeau has used his understanding of physics to become one of the world’s most successful and interesting golf players. DeChambeau himself says: “I loved understanding and figuring out how the golf ball moves through the air, how the dynamic of the golf swing works and how all the different types of motions contribute to the golf swing,” 

Physics is at the heart of everything DeChambeau does – he uses a swing called ‘zero shifting’ which takes the club back on a single plane with no wrist break, unlike almost all golf pros. Many critics feel this would reduce his power, but DeChambeau regularly hits the ball over 300 yards. Secondly, all DeChambeau’s irons are the same length; typically, clubs vary in length and get shorter with an increased loft. In his early years, DeChambeau actually engineered and made his very own clubs based on his understanding of physics! If that's not a fun science experiment, I don't know what is.

His approach hasn’t been without controversy – DeChambeau has tried out the use of a compass to get an exact hole positioning with each shot, and meticulously works out angles, lengths and geometric positioning of each shot to his best advantage. The compass and a strange putting technique he deployed have since been banned, although many argue that DeChambeau has simply outwitted the authorities. 

So, has his approach actually made him successful? Well, if $9,000,000 prize money in his short career is anything to go by, then yes! He has won five major tour events in the past year and is now ranked 7th in the world. Tiger Woods, fascinated by DeChambeau’s approach seems to be looking for some science support. He has even asked to play rounds with him to learn from his game. Tiger Woods is clearly interested in doing some fun science experiments himself.

Bryson DeChambeau is part of the USA Ryder Cup team, with the event being played over the weekend of 28-30th September. The team here at DE are going to be watching DeChambeau with a keen eye - we love physics and enjoy seeing it being used in such a pro-active and enlightening way!

Click on the link below for more detail on DeChambeau’s scientific approach. - Could this be your next science experiments at home?

Paul Usher
Curriculum Director