PGA Tour: 'No clear precedent' for DeChambeau's compass usage, decision now in USGA's hands

PGA Tour: ‘No clear precedent’ for DeChambeau’s compass usage, decision now in USGA’s hands

There are thousands of decisions in the Rules of Golf covering seemingly every conceivable scenario, from what to do if a squirrel chews up your ball (you’re free to swap it out) to how to proceed should your shot bound into the clubhouse (you’re allowed to open a window and play away).

Leave it to Bryson DeChambeau to conjure up a rules situation no one had ever considered.

In case you missed it, DeChambeau has been employing a handheld elementary school-style compass to help him more accurately map hole locations. Can we get a ruling? Um…no, actually. Not even two days after DeChambeau’s charting technique came to light.

“There is no clear precedent,” the PGA Tour said in a statement to reporters Monday evening. “The USGA is reviewing the matter, with our feedback, and is expected to make a ruling on its conformity with the Rules soon.” 

When reached by Monday, USGA officials declined to comment specifically on DeChambeau’s case. But Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director for the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, did say in an e-mail that this type of situation is covered under Rule 14-3, which says that a player may not “use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an abnormal manner.”   

The key word in DeChambeau’s case is “abnormal,” as in was he using the compass in an abnormal manner that might give him an unfair advantage?

Said Pagel, “A good example is a bottle of water; by itself, no problem, but a player could not use the bottle of water as a level.”

It’s unclear when the USGA will announce its decision to the Tour, but don’t be surprised if golf soon has a “DeChambeau Decision.” 

Here’s the full statement from the Tour:

Bryson DeChambeau’s use of a compass to make notations on exact hole location in his greens book came to light during Saturday’s round at the Travelers Championship, and PGA TOUR Rules Officials met with Bryson after the round. After consulting with the USGA, there is no clear precedent on the use of a compass in this manner and it is not currently prohibited under the Rules of Golf. The USGA is reviewing the matter, with our feedback, and is expected to make a ruling on its conformity with the Rules soon.

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