Bryson DeChambeau and his 3D-printed irons are topping the Masters leaderboard

Bryson DeChambeau moves a sign while preparing to play his second shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the 2024 Masters. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Maddie Meyer via Getty Images

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bryson DeChambeau is tied for the lead at the Masters at the halfway point, and he’s doing it with 3-D printed irons that were just approved for competition on Monday. For any other player, that would be a ridiculous set of borderline-unbelievable circumstances. For DeChambeau, it’s just another week.

Around the turn of the 2020s, DeChambeau’s beefy arms held golf in a headlock. He was part mad scientist experimenting on his own body, part nerd determined to stuff everyone else inside a locker. He came back from the pandemic transformed into Golf Hulk, and his entire course management strategy hinged on the premise of “hit the ball halfway to Saturn and figure it out from there.”

And the wild thing is, for a short time, it actually worked.

In 2020, DeChambeau won the U.S. Open and tied for fourth in the PGA Championship. It seemed, for a moment, like the future of golf was chunky musclebound lads pounding the ball without mercy.

Then, well, things went a bit sideways for DeChambeau. He didn’t place any higher than T26 for six straight majors. He came off as the bad guy — or at least, as the chump — in his ongoing war of words with Brooks Koepka. He stopped winning, joined LIV Golf, filed suit against the PGA Tour, and effectively burned all his goodwill into cinders. Even a newly slim physique and a 58 last year on the LIV tour didn’t do much to repair his image.

But golf’s fans and players are in a can’t-we-all-get-along phase right now — the power brokers are very much another story entirely — and no one is riding those come-on-home feelings quite like DeChambeau.

And here’s the best part: He’s still gloriously weird as hell. On Thursday, there was the hat tip even though he forgot he wasn’t wearing a hat:

Bryson going full-on hatless walk up 18 on a Thursday then forgetting he took his hat off before the imaginary hat tip. SCENES!

— Mark Harris (@itismarkharris) April 12, 2024

And then on Friday, he tried to encourage the grouping ahead of him to get moving off the green:

Watching golf

— Jacob Hallex (@jacob_hallex) April 12, 2024

Later on Friday, he hauled an entire sign out of the ground to give himself a better shot on the 13th hole, because of course he did.

Plus, he’s added a new tech wrinkle — he’s playing 3D-printed irons that the USGA only approved for competition on Monday and fully delivered on Tuesday. That’s cutting it close, and there is no margin for error — DeChambeau has just the one set of these irons made to these specifics. (He does have another traditional set for backup, if needed.)

DeChambeau employed the skills of the small club company Avoda to create exactly the irons he envisioned as far back as 2020. After about six months of development, Avoda and DeChambeau created irons that both matched his specifications and met USGA guidelines. They did so via a 3-D printing method that brought more curvature to the face of the irons.

“The set I’m using are great,” he said Friday evening. “They are fantastic. Not having any issues with them, and looking forward to a good weekend.”

Bryson DeChambeau holding a 3D-printed iron he’s using this week at the Masters. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Andrew Redington via Getty Images

According to Golfweek, the 3-D printing process wasn’t perfect; as a result of the layering process of the printing, the grooves initially were too thin to pass USGA specifications. So members of DeChambeau’s team ground the irons until they met the USGA’s guidelines. Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

“Last week, we found out literally Thursday afternoon that they were non-conforming from the USGA,” DeChambeau said. “And then we worked on them all over the weekend, and finally Tuesday morning we got them to where they were in a place where they were conforming and was ready to go.”

Ready enough to take a one-stroke lead on Thursday night and stay at the top of the leaderboard on Friday. Ready enough to win The Masters? We’ll see soon enough.

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