At the recent Travellers Championship, cameras spotted Bryson DeChambeau using a geometric compass during his third round at TPC River Highlands. The next day, DeChambeau informed reporters that the US PGA Tour was probing whether he was breaking the Rules of Golf by using the instrument.
“They said we just want to let you know we’re investigating this device and seeing if it’s allowable or not,” DeChambeau said after firing a final-round 68. “It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened,” the two-time US Tour winner and former US Amateur champion said, referring to a ruling the USGA made against a centre-shafted putter he used in early 2017.
Overnight, Golf Digest confirmed what Golf Channel initially reported, that the USGA has come to a verdict. And for the second time in as many years, it’s one DeChambeau will not like.
After initially giving DeChambeau the go-ahead, the US PGA Tour and USGA have changed their minds, deciding the compass is against the rules.
“The USGA has ruled that the use of a protractor (also known as a drawing compass) during a stipulated round is a violation of Rule 14-3a of the Rules of Golf,” read the statement. “It is considered ‘unusual equipment that might assist him in making a stroke or in his play’.”
John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of rules, competitions and equipment standards, told Golf Digest that he had a 45-minute conversation with DeChambeau on Tuesday explaining the association’s decision-making process regarding the use of the compass. In the end, Bodenhamer said, it was determined that the compass had the potential to “compromise a player’s skill and judgement”.
“With some of these sorts of devices, it can be difficult lines to draw on what’s permissible and what is not permissible,” Bodenhamer said. “But here, we drew the line there with Rule 14-3 [that the compass did not conform].
“I’ve got to be honest with you, Bryson is amazing. We had a great discussion. We applaud his innovation. He always is on the cutting edge. And I think we need to be talking with him more often to get a sense of how technology can be used by players. I think we’ll see him continue to push things to make himself better and we applaud that.”
DeChambeau told reporters in Connecticut that he used the tool to double-check hole locations.
“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”
According to Golf Channel, DeChambeau declined comment. In 2017, the USGA ruled his putter used for a side-saddle stroke to be non-conforming.
– with additional reporting from Ryan Herrington