Bryson DeChambeau visits Ping while Cobra-Puma sounds off on dysfunctional relationship: ‘He thinks there is a magic bullet’

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Bryson DeChambeau may be banned from playing in the PGA Tour’s WM Phoenix Open but that hasn’t stopped him from being a short drive from TPC Scottsdale this week. According to multiple sources, DeChambeau was in Phoenix on Wednesday at Ping headquarters testing equipment.

Ping spokesman Pete Samuels confirmed the visit with DeChambeau’s swing coach, Chris Como, a Ping brand ambassador, where DeChambeau used the company’s motion-capture lab, F.O.C.A.L, which stands for Fast. Optical. Capture. Analysis. Lab.

“Chris often brings his players into our Lab to analyze swing dynamics from a coaching standpoint,” Samuels said. “Our engineering team also observes and learns from visits like this as we capture useful swing data. That was the primary reason for the visit, but Bryson did test Ping product as well.”

DeChambeau became an equipment free agent at the end of the year when his contract with Cobra-Puma expired. According to sources, the company had been negotiating with DeChambeau and his agent Brett Falkoff, to extend their relationship, which dated from 2016 when the 2020 U.S. Open champion turned pro. A source said that as part of DeChambeau’s LIV Golf contract, the upstart league had to sign off on the equipment deal and allow Cobra to use his likeness from its tournament footage. LIV had a proposal since at least October and had been unresponsive, according to multiple sources.

In the meantime, DeChambeau put a TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus+ driver into play last week at the Asian Tour’s PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia. (Sources say he is testing a lot of different brands.) The use of another brand’s driver during competition was the last straw for Cobra, and DeChambeau was informed ahead of time that there would be repercussions if he opted to play a TaylorMade driver but did so anyway.

Where DeChambeau goes from here with his equipment remains to be seen, especially when his value from a marketing standpoint — given his reduced TV exposure from playing fewer events and receiving less eyeballs — is low.

“I wish him all the best, but it’s going to be a struggle just because of what he wants to do,” said Cobra-Puma’s PGA Tour rep Ben Schomin, who has been at DeChambeau’s beckon call and bended over backwards to accommodate his every request.

Schomin noted that DeChambeau’s recent comments to a reporter regarding what he was searching for in a driver also rubbed Cobra officials, which invested heavily in producing gear especially for DeChambeau, the wrong way.

“It was such an asinine statement, especially for a guy who is perceived to be all-knowing when it comes to science and physics, that he said he needs a driver that can be hit anywhere and everywhere across the face and find the fairway,” Schomin said. “With increased speed, demands increase precision. It’s just like a race car. You’ve got to be a better driver when you’re running at 200 miles per hour than you do at 75 (mph) going down I-95. He doesn’t believe that. He thinks there is a magic bullet out there. He’s looking for a unicorn.”

Cobra’s R&D team and tour staff invested more time and effort with DeChambeau than arguably any brand has for one of its ambassadors. As an executive at one of the ‘Big 4’ competitors said, “We don’t have the manpower to deal with him.”

Cobra hasn’t officially closed the door on its endorsement deal with DeChambeau, but it appears to be a sad ending for a dysfunctional relationship that began with much promise. DeChambeau said he shed tears when the first batch of Cobra single-length irons were presented to him. He put them straight into his bag and commemorated the moment by signing the frosted glass wall in CEO Bob Philion’s office in permanent ink: “The day the game changed, July 13, 2016.”

Less than seven years later, DeChambeau may have the financial resources to hire his own personal equipment rep to dial in his bag or even purchase a boutique equipment maker to address his equipment demands. But Cobra joins the likes of swing coach Mike Schy and caddie Tim Tucker who had enough of DeChambeau’s shenanigans and eventually decided it would be best to part ways with the mercurial talent.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek