Will Bryson Break Augusta?

Can the big hitting American take on Augusta National? Or does the famous Georgia course still have the capability of defending itself...

Bryson Break Augusta
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Will Bryson Break Augusta?

It’s an interesting question given all that the American has done in recent years to take his game, and golf itself, to another dimension. His transformation of both body and swing speed have rivalled even the disruption from Covid-19 for headline space in this extraordinary period for golf.

His stunning drives at the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational transcended the game itself and his victory at the technical Bay Hill showed his all-round game is as good as his driving. As the 2022 Masters fast approaches, there is again talk of whether Bryson can break Augusta as he did at Winged Foot in 2020. 

In 2020, he declared that he sees at Augusta as a par 67. The eventual a T34th finished position left the American wounded and probably regretting his words. Wherever you sit on the distance issue in golf, Bryson's new-found distance has sparked a paradigm shift in his status within the game. He has gone from slightly wacky scientist to serious contender, despite much scorn from some for doing things the Bryson way.

Will Bryson Break Augusta

Will the bulked-up Bryson bring Augusta to its knees as he did to Winged Foot in September's US Open? (Photo: Getty Images)

He has been reducing many holes to mere shadows of their former selves. Going in to 2020’s hugely disrupted season, DeChambeau was ranked 14th in the world and he arrived in 6th place ahead of the 2020 Masters. After an injury-plagued start to the 2022 season, Bryson has slipped back down to 14th in the world rankings and has very little golf under his belt so far this year. 

Will Bryson Break Augusta

 (Photo: Getty Images)

It was at 2020's U.S Open where Bryson's power really broke the back of a notoriously tough course and got people starting to ask whether he could do it to Augusta National. He overpowered the notoriously difficult Winged Foot course with an imperious display. He finished six clear and was the only man against whom the course’s fearsome par of 70 was unable to defend itself. So, is there any chance Augusta National could be next in his sights 

Before we even get on to his injury doubts, it's important to note that Augusta boasts very different defences to Winged Foot, or any other golf course Bryson has dismantled through his length. There is none of the cloying, thick rough that lined Winged Foot’s fairways, and Tiger has proved in the past that you can spray it around a bit and still get the job done.  The problem with this is that, while you may not lose your ball, being out of position is more of a problem than at many courses. The ultra-fast, sloping greens are Augusta’s ingenious last line of defence. It is often imperative that you find the right part of the green with your approach shot.

To do that, you must first put your drive in the right place. If you're out of position, it may well be impossible to hit the right part of the green, or indeed any part of it. Then you’re relying on the brilliance of your putting and short game, which Tiger, of course, possessed in abundance – 2005’s 16th hole chip-in being the prime example.

Bryson Dechambeau putting at Augusta Natioanl

Can Bryson get his head fully round Augusta's fabled greens this year? (Photo: Getty Images)

Add to this the fact that he has been struggling with a left wrist injury pretty much all of this calendar year, and you've got an even smaller likelihood he'll 'break' Augusta. We especially saw how much the wrist injury was affecting his driving during the WGC Matchplay event in Austin a few weeks ago. His driving accuracy was all over the place

One thing that the injury shouldn't effect is his putting, and Bryson is no slouch on the greens – he finished 10th in strokes gained putting in 2019.  But the Augusta stats for the last three years show that he has struggled more than many on the course’s idiosyncratic putting surfaces. And, perhaps crucially, Augusta National does not permit the very detailed green-reading books that many players – Bryson, of course, included - used to use elsewhere. Of course, green books have been banned altogether now, but we're yet to see how Bryson has developed without them. 

Will Bryson Break Augusta

Players are not allowed to use their most detailed green-reading books at Augusta (Photo: Getty Images)

Bryson may have dented Winged Foot’s pride in 2020, but I don’t think he will do the same to Augusta National, with the record score to par this century coming from a player at the opposite end of golf's power spectrum to DeChambeau – Jordan Spieth. Spieth was a wizard on the greens en route to his 18-under tally in 2015, rolling in a record 28 birdies for the week.

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. 

Dan is currently playing: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°, Ping G425 Max 21°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Cobra King Tec Utility, Ping i230 (5-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x