Bryson DeChambeau on compass ban: Unfortunate, but talks with USGA have been great

Jun 23, 2018; Cromwell, CT, USA; Bryson DeChambeau checks his note pad on the 2nd hole during the third round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bryson DeChambeau on compass ban: Unfortunate, but talks with USGA have been great

PGA Tour

Bryson DeChambeau on compass ban: Unfortunate, but talks with USGA have been great

Bryson DeChambeau has now spoken on the compass controversy, and it’s clear he’s disappointed. But he’s also taken a thoughtful, mature stance on the matter.

The defending John Deere Classic champion had his pre-tournament press conference for the event Wednesday, and of course the U.S. Golf Association and R&A decision to disallow his use of a compass (the type used in geometry, not the directional kind) was going to come up.

A question was asked, as were some follow-ups. Here was DeChambeau’s main response in full:

“Yeah, look, I’ll say one thing on that, and I will say it’s unfortunate. It’s just a referencing tool. I talked to John Bodenhamer (USGA senior managing director of championships and governance) about it quite a bit, a couple hours, and we had a great conversation. The USGA has been really responsive and we’ve had fantastic talks. I’m honestly looking forward to working with them on helping make the rules better, more clear. That was never my intention, to skirt by the rules or anything like that. It was just a device that I thought had been used for a long time in different fields and I thought, ‘This shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not a distance-measuring device, it’s just a referencing tool.’ And so they obviously didn’t think it was legal and that’s fine. But at the same point and time, there’s a lot of different ways to go about referencing things. I could use my finger or things like that, so they’re working on that to clarify the rules in that regard as well. … On the compass issue, we’re working on it and hopefully we’ll come to a better resolution in the end.”

On one of the follow-up questions, DeChambeau clarified his intentions with his eccentric methods:

“I’m not trying to push the game in any direction. I’m trying to utilize every tool in my brain to be able to reference information and get information in a way that I can utilize it to the best of my ability. Whether it’s referencing a pin location – getting more precise pin locations – or knowing what the wind is a little more precisely, that’s what we’re talking about: What information can we gather and what’s the resolution on that information? It’s not going to deter, it’s going to help make what we can do more precise under the rules. I don’t want to ever be doing anything outside the rules. Obviously, nobody does. We want to see what’s allowable and what type of information can we gather and how much resolution can we have under that type of information.”

As for getting to chat one-on-one with the USGA, DeChambeau emphasized the importance of that:

“I think it was a big step for me to be able to talk with (the USGA) one-on-one, not necessarily going through the (PGA) Tour or anything like that, albeit it’s a great way as well. Nothing against the Tour, but just being able to talk to (the USGA) directly is very, very nice, so that we can have a personal relationship first off and be mutually beneficial.”

So if you were looking for another DeChambeau-USGA battle like the one that formed and then fizzled over the putter he was using with a side-saddle stroke, you’re out of luck.

It’ll be interesting to see what potential further clarification of the rules can come of this.

Regardless, DeChambeau has now spoken and appears happy to collaborate even if he doesn’t agree on the compass decision.

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