With New 3-D Printed Avoda Irons, The Bryson Experience Returns At The Masters
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With New 3-D Printed Avoda Irons, The Bryson Experience Returns At The Masters

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With New 3-D Printed Avoda Irons, The Bryson Experience Returns At The Masters

We have the makings of a compelling weekend at the 88th Masters.

A possible central character? It could, somehow, be the enigmatic Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau shot a 2-under 65 (if you know, you know) on Thursday to take an unexpected lead at Augusta National, one stroke clear of Scottie Scheffler, the world No. 1 who came into the tournament as an overwhelming favorite and opened the Masters with a firm statement that he is still the man to beat.

But while Scheffler put together a nearly perfect bogey-free round in his march toward a potential second major victory, DeChambeau’s cameo immediately injected an added level of intrigue into the tournament.

And he’s doing so with irons that just hit the USGA conforming list four days ago.

Benching the Ping i230s he used last week during LIV Miami, DeChambeau is now playing a custom set of single-length Avoda irons. The little-known manufacturer had to use 3-D printing in order to produce the two-piece irons quickly—as recently as last week, the grooves were too narrow (a product of the 3-D printing) and had to be buffed in order to qualify for the conforming list.

With the help of his team, DeChambeau designed the irons with bulge and curvature on the face, which you normally see with a driver. They are designed to have more forgiveness at high speeds, returning the ball toward the target on off-center strikes.

Avoda, which is a Hebrew word for precision, touts their iron faces as being “one-of-a-kind.” The company is owned by Tom Bailey, a student of DeChambeau’s longtime instructor Mike Schy.

Speaking to Golf Channel, DeChambeau explained why he added the Avoda irons: “It’s a speed thing… when I mishit on the toe or the heel it seems to fly a lot straighter for me and that’s what has allowed me to be more comfortable over the ball.”

Since parting ways with COBRA at the end of 2022, DeChambeau has gone down nontraditional gear paths rather than partnering with OEMs. He is now employing a six-degree Krank Formula Fire driver, a 10-degree TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver and PING Glide 4.0 wedges in addition to the Avoda prototypes.

He referenced equipment improvements as a primary reason for his play getting better, saying his entire bag has changed in the past eight months.

During a year when PGA Tour ratings are down some 20 percent as professional golf struggles with fan apathy and a lack of player personality, DeChambeau’s sudden thrust back into the spotlight he vacated is the exact type of scenario golf could use this weekend at Augusta National.

His performance was the most surprising development on a day that started with a lengthy rain delay before unveiling a sunny but blustery afternoon. That DeChambeau played several holes before the winds got humming—including a birdie-birdie-birdie start—proved to be a critical difference.

DeChambeau pulled off several impressive shots, including hitting the green in two on the par-5 15th despite his drive ending up in pine straw. He made a birdie there before adding two more circles to his card on 16 and 17.

“It was a little scary of a shot,” DeChambeau said. “I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I took a risk… I was just trying to get to the back right section of the green, and I pushed it a little bit. It clipped the tree. I hit four pine needles rather than five, and it worked out perfectly.”

Maybe not, but it was fun to watch.

Coming into this week, there were valid reasons to doubt the 30-year-old could contend.

He has never recorded a top-20 finish in seven Masters appearances, his best result (T21 in 2016) coming as an amateur who challenged for the lead over the first two days. Since his comments in 2020 about Augusta National being like a par-67 for him, he has gone T34-T46-MC-MC.

Prior to the first round, his best play at the course might have been when he threw a Nerf football on the par-5 13th.

“Only God knows that,” he said when asked why he has such a pedestrian record at Augusta National.

He also has just two top-10 finishes in 11 major starts since winning the 2020 U.S. Open.

And although he won twice on LIV in 2023, DeChambeau has ventured more into YouTube golfer/entertainer status in recent years rather than being the major championship-winning golfer who threatened to revolutionize the game and dominate the game’s biggest tournaments with his prodigious length.

All of that was placed to the side on Thursday as he played inspiring yet measured golf that featured eight birdies and just one dropped shot. He leads the field in Strokes Gained putting—that can sometimes be a sign that success is unsustainable–but DeChambeau was also among the leaders in Strokes Gained off the tee and tee to green.

DeChambeau had been squarely in golf’s conversation, particularly during 2017-2021, as he reached for unimaginable ball speed, drove balls over lakes, fried bacon shirtless and won eight times on the PGA Tour.

His beef with Brooks Koepka—contrived or legitimate—gave everyone something to talk about.

His unorthodox approach to the game had some recreational players reaching for single-length irons.

His equipment has been the subject of debate, including at the 2021 Open Championship when he said his five-degree COBRA Radspeed driver “sucks.”

His rule controversies—such as asking for relief from an imaginary anthill and demanding a second opinion on relief from an out-of-bounds fence—were absurd, yet must-watch, moments.

DeChambeau justifiably made a lot of fans roll their eyes and he took on jeers from them because of it.

But at no point could he be described as boring. In a sport where most professional golfers meld into a faceless amalgamation, DeChambeau made everyone have an opinion. He was a nonstop content machine even if the masses of golf fans thought he was an immature goober trying too hard to be cool.

When he left for LIV, it was probably the biggest loss the PGA Tour suffered at the time. He represented how much personality the Tour lost. He represented how important it is for the audience to have an emotional connection to the product—even if that emotional connection is not always positive.

While he withdrew from the spotlight, DeChambeau quietly seemed to get into a better headspace, finding more consistent feels while dialing back his all-out assault on distance. He focused on just two swing thoughts: Tilt his shoulders and swing in to out.

“It’s been a journey to say the least, one that I have thoroughly enjoyed but also it’s taken a big toll on me,” he said after Thursday’s round. “I’m just in a comfortable place where I’m doing the same thing every single week. So I feel like it’s just ingraining consistently over the course of time. I’m not trying new things, I’m not doing new things.”

“Not doing new things” apparently doesn’t apply to the irons, so we’ll have to see how that develops.

Over the past two years, DeChambeau has made only occasional headlines, mostly because of ridiculous off-course moments. He spoke at length about LIV’s pursuit of Official World Golf Ranking points during a rant that was littered with factually inaccurate remarks; he filmed a video using a rolled-back golf ball, unknowingly making just as good of a case for a rollback than against it; he participated in a long drive championship that might have limited his success in majors while also being harder on his body.

But in all of that, we slowly forgot about DeChambeau the world-class golfer. We forgot about the guy who won the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open while on the path to possibly being a top golfer in the world.

He hasn’t faded nearly as far as some might assume. DeChambeau is No. 21 in the Data Golf rankings, about 200 spots higher than his official world ranking. The talent is still there despite his lurking in the shadows while playing for the Crushers team on LIV.

Golf is better when DeChambeau is front and center. That’s when we get comments like this shot taken by Wyndham Clark.

“Yeah, we’ve got 54 holes (to play),” Clark said. “In LIV Golf, they only play 54, so I like my chances.”

Imagine if DeChambeau challenges (or beats) Scheffler, Clark, Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Joaquin Niemann and other stars this weekend. Imagine if Jon Rahm, one of LIV’s best acquisitions, puts the green jacket on a golfer who recently posted a YouTube video playing the forward tees alongside influencer Paige Spiranac.

Some might not want to see it happen, but it will be must-watch TV if it does.

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Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean is a longtime golf journalist and underachieving 8 handicap who enjoys the game in all forms. If he didn't have an official career writing about golf, Sean would spend most of his free time writing about it anyway. When he isn't playing golf, you can find Sean watching his beloved Florida Panthers hockey team, traveling to a national park or listening to music on his record player. He lives in Nashville with his wife and dog (of course the dog's name is Hogan).

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm





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      Cdub

      1 month ago

      I’m pulling for Bryson. I personally have always liked his approach to the game. He makes it fun. Plus from everything I’ve read, seen, and heard he seems to be a really genuine person that’s good to fans and who loves the game.

      Reply

      James Mack

      1 month ago

      He was 7 under not 2

      Reply

      James Hunt

      1 month ago

      That was a stab at Bryson. Couple years ago he said that Augusta National, to him, is a par 67 (not 72). If that were true, he would only be 2 under after the first round.

      Reply

      Ben

      1 month ago

      Avoda means “work”. Diyuk, which is what is written in Hebrew means “accuracy/precision.”

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      1 month ago

      Lucky for Clark that there are 54 MORE left, because if it was 54 only it would be over, he won’t have those extra 9 or 18 more holes to try to catch up, that’s how fast and hard the scoring is on LIV, if you haven’t gunned it from the beginning and kept the foot down, the weekend is over before you can even reset to take a breath to get a few strokes back into the field

      Reply

      Dok

      1 month ago

      Wyndham got boat raced…maybe he’ll learn to keep his mouth shut. What a jabroni.

      Reply

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