The Bryson DeChambeau side-saddle putting experiment is no more. But DeChambeau vs. the U.S. Golf Association only appears to be heating up.
The 23-year-old spoke with Golf Digest following a missed cut at the Honda Classic. This marks his fifth consecutive early exit, as DeChambeau’s missed the cut in four of those starts and withdrew through 28 holes in the other. (That would be at last week’s Genesis Open, a premature departure that had other PGA Tour pros coming at DeChambeau on Twitter).
After another tough week, he didn’t have many fond words to say to the USGA. DeChambeau had been employing a side-saddle stroke on the greens in previous months. But matters started to unravel last month when the day before the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, the model of putter DeChambeau was using that week was declared non-conforming by the USGA.
A week later at the Farmers Insurance Open, DeChambeau was still putting side-saddle but with a different, conforming model and voiced his frustration.
But he abandoned side-saddle altogether last week at the Genesis Open and hasn’t gone back to it at the Honda Classic. The side-saddle days, for now, are done and DeChambeau didn’t hesitate to point the blame for that at the USGA.
“The USGA essentially doesn’t like me (putting side-saddle),” DeChambeau told Golf Digest.
“I’m pretty much done with it,” he added. “They’re not a good organization, and you can quote me on that. I’m part of their family and as family it’s very frustrating to see them stunt the growth of the game.”
Golf Digest got in contact with USGA spokesman Janeen Driscoll, who relayed that the organization “talked to Bryson in mid-January to discuss both his putter and his method of stroke.” Driscoll further noted that the USGA then confirmed to DeChambeau that the side-saddle stroke itself was compliant with the rules.
The short experiment (which officially started in PGA Tour competition at this year’s Sony Open) didn’t pay much in dividends. The series of missed cuts speak to that, but DeChambeau’s putting stats are especially difficult to look at. The 23-year-old is currently 194th on the Tour this season in strokes gained: putting (losing .653 strokes per round to the field).
It’s worth noting that putting may be the weakest part of DeChambeau’s game. In limited PGA Tour starts last year, he lost .302 strokes per round. If he had played enough rounds to qualify, DeChambeau would’ve ranked 159th on Tour in strokes gained: putting for 2015-16. That would still mean we’ve seen a drop in 2016-17, but remember some of this season’s recorded rounds have come after he was forced to switch from a comfortable putter model to one he felt stilted with. Also, a couple months of use with side-saddle putting leaves us a small sample size.
So it’s impossible to say whether this experiment would’ve ultimately led DeChambeau down a prosperous path on the greens. But for now, his side-saddle days are done, and his friction with the USGA doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon.