To any passer-by, the two-storey brick exterior looks like any other on the street.
But, step inside this Dallas home and you’ll quickly discover that what’s inside is actually quite extraordinary.
The house belongs to Chris Como, coach to Bryson DeChambeau. Behind that unassuming exterior, Como has built a home-made laboratory that is helping fuel a transformation that has captivated the world of golf.
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Golf in lockdown
With the world careering towards a lockdown in March, Como was at the Players Championship in Florida, working with DeChambeau and another of his pupils, Emiliano Grillo, when news of the tournament’s cancellation came.
Boarding a hastily arranged flight back to his base in Dallas, Como began to stew on an idea that had been incubating in his mind for years.
“I always thought it would be really cool to take some technology that I’d used in grad school and do a deep measurement of what the body is doing during the golf swing by creating a kind of, multi-sport lab for research at home.”
By the time Como touched down in Dallas, his mind was made up.
“I went to my apartment, gave my notice to vacate, called up a realtor and I’m like: ‘Help me find a place with a really tall ceiling.’
“We found a place with some high ceilings so we could shoot some basketball three-point shots … We then basically built a biomechanics lab, in my living room – which is badass.
“I’m clearly not married because I’m not sure if the theoretical wife would have let me put this together,” Como joked with CNN Living Golf’s Shane O’Donoghue.
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Living room laboratory
The beating heart of Como’s “living room lab” is a Gears 3D motion capture system – a sophisticated set of cameras circling the room which records every movement of the user, and generates a 3D computer model of the action. It allows Como to analyze the smallest imperfection or change in motion and correct or plan accordingly.
To supplement the data collected by the Gears system, Como also has GASP force plates – to measure the force being applied through each foot during a swing – and a K-Vest, a lightweight, portable device that provides additional data on the movement of the upper body during an action.
With the lockdown limiting access to golf clubs and practice facilities during the spring, Como’s lab became the base for DeChambeau to work on his game.
“He would come over here and we would evolve the swing and just kept ramping up the club speed during that downtime.
“Once things started getting going again, he was physically very different … his golf swing as well was, I wouldn’t say it was different from the swing that he developed with his childhood coach Mike Schy, but it was much more explosive,” Como explains.
It’s not just DeChambeau taking advantage of the data on offer in Como’s living room.
Dallas Mavericks star Seth Curry and Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn also took the opportunity presented by lockdown to have their respective jump and slap shots analyzed by Como – both players have since had a key role in post-lockdown playoff runs.
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Having studied physics at university, it’s perhaps no surprise that DeChambeau has adopted, with the help of Como, a very analytical approach to the game of golf.
“His philosophy is to leave no stone unturned and to take some risks to try and improve,” his coach says.
It’s that risk-reward approach that has made DeChambeau’s transformation so captivating, putting on 40-pounds in weight and becoming the longest driver on the PGA Tour, averaging an incredible 325-yards per drive.
It’s not been plain sailing for the 26-year-old since the lockdown, however, despite some scintillating golf and a PGA Tour win, there have been plenty of erratic performances and missed cuts highlighted by a calamitous five-over-par; 10-stroke ordeal on the par-5 15th hole at The Memorial Tournament in July, a hole that included three drops and resulted in a missed cut.
“The thing that’s interesting about making changes with your golf swing, especially if you’re already one of the best players in the world, there’s risk,’ Como says.
“There have been people before who have tried to get better at the game but have actually lost their game, this is one of the things that we talked really in depth about was like: ‘OK, you’re taking a certain level of risk, but how can we be intelligent about that?’”
Como, who was born and raised in the leafy Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, served an apprenticeship under some of the top golf instructors in the US before settling in Dallas and attending grad school, where he studied biomechanics.
It’s this mix of practical experience coupled with theoretical insight that caught the eye of Tiger Woods who hired Como from 2014-2017 to replace Sean Foley.
Whilst Woods spent much of that time injured, the California-born coach saw first-hand the qualities that make Tiger one of the game’s all-time greats.
“Tiger was very curious, he loved to understand things, he loved trying to figure out his body and how to hit certain shots,” Como said.
“When I was working with him he was going through a lot with the injuries but he just had this constant approach to the game of: How do I get better?’”
It’s an approach to the game that is almost identical to Como’s latest star pupil.
“Bryson’s a very curious person, he loves trying to understand things and he works incredibly hard … He’s just driven to be the best so he’s a lot of fun to work with.”
Too much data?
Two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw once said: “Golf is the hardest game in the world. There is no way you can ever get it. Just when you think you do, the game jumps up and puts you in your place.”
So, how close does Como think the data and the lab can get to unlocking the mystery of the golf swing?
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“Honestly, I don’t think the mystery will ever cease to exist in our lifetime,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this game, even with all of this technology we’re only measuring a small amount of what’s actually happening in the swing.
“That’s part of what makes golf so much fun, it is one of the great mysteries out there.”