Astute watchers of the game might have seen it coming before the Masters. Even for those that didn’t, when Bryson DeChambeau showed up at the Masters outfitted head to toe in PUMA gear a formal partnership between the man and the brand certainly seemed inevitable.
And so today, surprising nearly no one, the inevitable has become reality as COBRA PUMA has announced a long-term (multi-year) partnership with Bryson DeChambeau. The deal ensures that DeChambeau will be outfitted head to toe in PUMA footwear and apparel and will also carry an unspecified amount of Cobra gear during tournament play.
Who Else Would He Have Signed With?
Seriously? Does this guy fit COBRA PUMA or what?
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but multiple industry insiders familiar with DeChambeau’s asking price have confirmed that it’s a multi-million dollar arrangement, with one source adding “It’s a big number”.
Details of DeChambeau’s equipment commitments weren’t disclosed either, so we don’t know exactly how much Cobra gear he’s contractually obligated to play (either now or in future seasons), but going into this week’s RBC Heritage, the current contents of his bag look like this:
- Driver: Cobra King F6+ Pro 7° | Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited 70X | 45 in” | weight removed
- 3 wood: Cobra King F6 14.5° | Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited 70X | 43 in”
- Utility: KING Utility Iron 18.5° D | Project X HZRDUS Black Hybrid 6.5 105x
- Irons: Edel Prototype (3-P) | KBS Tour C-Taper Lite 115X |37.5 in” | Lofts: 25 (3), 30 (5), 34 (6), 38 (7), 42 (8), 46 (P)
- Wedges: Cobra King V Grind 50°, 55° and 60° | 37.5 in”
Like Rickie Fowler, DeChambeau will occasionally replace the KING Utility with a Baffler 5W based on the course.
Time to Transition?
As you may recall, it took Rickie Fowler a bit of time to make a full transition to Cobra gear, and my assumption is that the same will be true of DeChambeau. The probability is that the Edel irons will eventually be replaced, bringing the most likely total to 13 Cobra clubs in the bag.
Who Is Bryson DeChambeau?
Also announced today: DeChambeau will play the Bridgestone B330-S ball and wear Bridgestone gloves.
Given the attention of late, it’s hard to imagine that many of you aren’t familiar with DeChambeau at this point. That attention, and the hope that it continues, is no doubt what makes a player with nearly no professional resume appealing to COBRA PUMA.
For those are just now getting up to speed, here’s a bit of background.
DeChambeau first received widespread attention last year when he won the NCAA Division 1 Championship while playing for SMU. He followed that up with a win in the U.S. Amateur Championship (which comes with an invite to The Masters).
Winning those two events in the same calendar year is a rare feat that had previously been accomplished by four other golfers; Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Moore.
The company speaks for itself with 3 of the 4 on this list unquestionably qualifying as all-time greats. It’s a limited sample size, and that alone appears to be solid predictor of future success.
Amateur success (and his T21/low amateur finish at The Masters) aside, DeChambeau is best known for his unique clubs. All of his irons and wedges are the same length (37.5″), and have the same lie angle. He relies on loft alone to create the distance gaps between clubs.
And that’s where things get interesting. My assumption is that DeChambeau will eventually switch to Cobra irons, and if that proves to the be the case, it’s also a reasonable assumption that Cobra will become the first mainstream golf company since Tommy Armour to bring single length irons to retail.
The company is going to have to invest R&D into something that might not fly at the consumer level.
DeChambeau is a Gamble
DeChambeau currently has no status on the PGA Tour. He’ll be playing this week at the RBC Heritage on a sponsor’s exemption. It’s basically a given that he’ll pick up the PGA limit of 6 more exemptions before the season is over. None of that offers any sort of guarantee that he can play his way to full-time status in 2017.
If DeChambeau finishes the year without full-time status, Cobra could find itself holding the bag on a contract with very little upside.
Will Bryson DeChambeau prove to be Rickie Fowler, Ty Tryon, or someone in-between? Everybody has an opinion, but nobody knows for sure, which is why this signing amounts to a tremendously bold roll of the dice for a company that needs to win big on this one.
Cobra apparently believes he’s worth the risk. If he wins, Bryson DeChambeau will very quickly give the company something it has desperately needed for several seasons.
More TV Time
Prior to the DeChambeau signing, Cobra’s full-time PGA Tour Staff consisted of Rickie Fowler and Jonas Blixt. That’s it. They have Greg Norman and Jesper Parnevik on the Champions Tour (also known as the Bernhard Langer Show). There’s Lexi Thompson on the LPGA Tour, but even if we throw in Blair O’Neil and Holly Sonders, the reality is that Cobra’s staff is dwarfed by the likes of TaylorMade, Callaway, PING, Titleist, and Nike.
On Tour, COBRA PUMA is nearly a one-man show.
Rickie Fowler is arguably the most marketable golfer since Tiger, but as I’ve written before, Cobra needs more guys. Specifically, Cobra needs more PGA Tour guys who get loads of TV time. DeChambeau is exactly that kind of guy.
As long as he remains golf’s newest, most-fascinating personality, and as long as he’s able to play his way into the story on Sunday, DeChambeau gives Cobra the complement to Rickie Fowler that it has never really had.
With his interesting story, just the right amount of quirkiness, and what-the-hell, his attention-grabbing hat (which I love), DeChambeau has the potential to be the kind of guy who can actually help a brand sell product.
By every account, the asking price was steep, but the upside is high.
For COBRA PUMA Golf, Bryson DeChambeau is absolutely a gamble, but for anyone in golf, he’s also the safest wager on the table right now.