Jun 25th, 2018
Bryson DeChambeau's compass controversy
The Golf Scientist turns Sea Captain...
Words: Tim Southwell
He's known as The Golf Scientist but maybe he should rebrand himself the sea captain after revealing that the PGA Tour was investigating the validity of him using a compass in play at tournaments.
Bryson says he uses the compass to figure out "true pin locations." "The pin locations are a little bit off every once in a while," he said on Sunday. "So I'm making sure they're in the exact right spot."
So is he actually allowed to use a compass in tournaments?
Rule 14-3 does state that a player may not "use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an abnormal manner."
Thomas Pagel, the USGA's senior director for the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status told Golf.com: "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." The rule informs us of the specific instances when equipment usage is illicit:
a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play;
or b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play;
or c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:
(i) gloves may be worn provided that they are plain gloves (gardening gloves are not advised);
(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used (threatening your playing partner with a gun full of gunpowder is not, however, encouraged);
and (iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip."
Mr. DeChambeau could be in violation of b) or the section of the Appendix that governs "recommendations that might assist the player in making a stroke or in his play." But it is not clear how the Tour might choose to interpret these stipulations in his case. He is not using equipment to generate his own data about the course; he is using it to interpret data that is available to everyone. DeChambeau said he expects a decision from the PGA Tour sometime this week.
In the meantime, Bryson's plans to use a sextant to calculate the distance between the horizon and celestial bodies, like stars and planets regarding the true course of a tricky downhill four-foot putt... have been put on hold while the PGA figure out what to do with him...