USGA, R&A disallow Bryson DeChambeau's use of compass

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

USGA, R&A disallow Bryson DeChambeau's use of compass

PGA Tour

USGA, R&A disallow Bryson DeChambeau's use of compass

It looks like the compass controversy has not ended in Bryson DeChambeau’s favor.

Per a report from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, the PGA Tour has informed players that the U.S. Golf Association has stipulated using a compass (the type wielded in geometry) during play is no longer allowed.

“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,” according to a statement sent to players, per Golf Channel. “It is considered ‘unusual equipment that might assist him in making a stroke or in his play.’”

The USGA has confirmed the ruling, offering to Golfweek its own statement clarifying why DeChambeau’s use would be deemed a violation going forward:

At the request of the PGA Tour, the USGA and The R&A reviewed Bryson DeChambeau’s stated use of a drawing compass to assist him in determining “true” hole locations, and jointly determined that his specific usage would be in breach of Rule 14-3, if used in a future round. The Rule prohibits a player, during a stipulated round, from using any artificial device or unusual equipment, or using any equipment in an abnormal manner, that “might assist him in making a stroke or in his play.” Because a compass is not a usual piece of equipment in golf, and Bryson clearly stated that he had used the device to assist him, the USGA, R&A and the PGA Tour agreed it was in the best interest of the game to share this determination with Bryson immediately. In doing so before his next round, we have made every effort to assist Bryson in avoiding possible disqualification and provide clarity to the PGA Tour and other players in the field. Anyone who may have questions regarding use of any unusual equipment can contact the USGA Rules Department at rules@usga.org, knowing each issue is different and needs to be reviewed independently. 

The storm began on this issue when DeChambeau was spotted using a compass during the Travelers Championship last month. It led to the PGA Tour investigating DeChambeau’s use of this type of compass in golf.

The Tour released a statement shortly after the tournament that there was no clear precedent and that the USGA would be reviewing that matter with its feedback.

Clearly the USGA and R&A jointly decided to take a course to disallow after the review.

This is now the second time DeChambeau has seen the Rules of Golf prevent him from incorporating his methods. He previously went to battle with the USGA after the organization ruled the putter he was using with a side-saddle stroke to be non-conforming. DeChambeau later apologized for his comments.

This time, it’s not a club but a device. DeChambeau said he used the compass to determine true pin locations and had put the device into use in Tour events as far back as October 2016. This ruling does not affect DeChambeau’s results retroactively.

Here is the rule that now deems using a compass that “might assist” in making a stroke or in one’s play is a violation (with a breach resulting in a two-stroke penalty and any subsequent offense offering a DQ):

To be clear, this does not affect whether players can implement a directional compass (the kind used to gauge wind direction). It is spelled out in decision 14-3/4 of the Rules of Golf that because this type of compass only provides directional information and “does not gauge or measure variable conditions or assist the player in his play,” it is allowable during play.

Once again, the Rules of Golf have spoken.

Correction: This story previously stated the USGA, not the PGA Tour, informed players of the ruling.

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