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Bryson DeChambeau and long-time caddy Tim Tucker are parting ways just days before the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. The split comes on the heels of DeChambeau’s U.S. Open collapse in which he carded a disastrous +8 44 on the back nine.
One caddie, who wished to remain anonymous, said that carrying Bryson’s bag will have a lot of interest because of the money to be made, but that everyone knows it’s the toughest job out there.
DeChambeau is a well-known perfectionist who seems to push the envelope past meticulous and into difficult. Tucker is also known for his own strong work ethic and attention to detail, but he has a calm temperament as well, which seemed to help Bryson keep a level head. In other words, they made a good team, and replacing Tucker, especially on such short notice, won’t be easy.
Just a few weeks ago, DeChambeau was singing his caddie’s praises: “Whatever I say [to Tucker], it doesn’t bother him at all.” Now, the young golfer is hanging out in the wind, looking for a replacement who can understand his unique swing.
It is Bryson’s unique single plane swing that requires such specialized understanding of golf mechanics.
Most tour players set up on two distinct planes: shoulder to clubhead plane resting above club shaft plane due to lowered hands. As a result of the two planes needing to eventually intersect to hit the ball, the golfer must raise his hands during the downswing while simultaneously lowering his center of gravity. This complex move ensures good ball-first contact.
It’s a tricky motion that has its advantages when mastered, but Bryson takes a completely different approach that actually aims to simplify the entire process. Moe Norman, the greatest ball striker who ever lived, raised his hands at address, and thereby introduced a whole new motion to the mainstream decades ago. This version of the swing exists on one plane that runs from clubhead to hands to shoulders, like a robot, and never deviates from it.
Much like Bryson, Moe was also ridiculed for his strange approach, even though his move produces incredible consistency and relieves a lot of lower back pressure during the swing. The problem isn’t the swing itself—its effectiveness isn’t up for debate—it’s that very few people learn the details of single plane golf within the industry. And as such, DeChambeau will be fishing from a very limited knowledge pool in his search for a replacement caddie.
Add in DeChambeau’s strong personality, and you have a recipe for difficulty ahead. He’s already gaining a reputation as a hard case, even though he has the potential to win a staggering amount of money on tour in his lifetime. I believe his instincts are correct; the single plane swing really does set him apart. But to translate good instincts into a great career, he’ll need the help of others.