USGA tells Bryson DeChambeau’s his compass violates Rule 14-3a

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Bryson DeChambeau’s use of a compass (in conjunction with his yardage book to find “true hole locations”) at last month’s Travelers Championship was initially a source of amusement in the social media sphere.

Then, the situation became anything but funny for DeChambeau himself, as the PGA Tour and USGA began a discussion about potential rules being broken and whether he ought to be able to continue to to use the device.

The PGA Tour had temporarily given DeChambeau permission to use the device while putting the ball in the USGA’s court. Yesterday, the USGA announced DeChambeau’s compass use is a violation of Rule 14-3a.

The USGA released a statement to GolfChannel.com: “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.”

According to Golf Digest’s Joel Beall writes, John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of rules, competitions and equipment standards, spoke with DeChambeau for 45 minutes on July 3.

“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.”

The text of states

14-3. Artificial Devices and Unusual Equipment; Abnormal Use of Equipment

Rule 14-3 governs the use of equipment and devices (including electronic devices) that might assist a player in making a specific stroke or generally in his play.

Golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the judgement, skills and abilities of the player. This principle guides the USGA in determining whether the use of any item is in breach of Rule 14-3.

Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an abnormal manner:

a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play

This is DeChambeau’s second run-in with U.S. golf’s governing body. In 2017, the USGA ruled DeChambeau’s sidesaddle putter non-conforming.

USGA tells Bryson DeChambeau’s his compass violates Rule 14-3a

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