Bryson DeChambeau is trying to bring sidesaddle putting back into the mainstream, switching to the technique at the end of 2016 with the hopes of making more putts from long distance in his first full season on the PGA Tour.
With few people using the sidesaddle technique since Sam Snead popularized it in the 1960s, DeChambeau didn't have a putter ready-made at his disposal for putting sidesaddle. That meant he had to fashion his own putter with the help of his instructor, Mike Schy. However, after using that putter for several tournaments now, DeChambeau has been told last week by the PGA Tour that the USGA has ruled it a non-conforming piece of equipment.
"I was very disappointed with the way they handled it," DeChambeau said Tuesday to Morning Read. "They've said to me, too, that they don't like the way I'm doing it. But it's within the rules, and I don't know why they don't like it. They say I'm potentially taking skill out of the game. Anything that helps shoot lower scores or makes golf more fun and grows the game, that's what I'm all about."
Sidesaddle putting is a unique putting stance in which the player stands to the side, facing the hole with their body, creating a pendulum-like stroke that proponents say is more repeatable than a traditional stroke. It evolved from Snead's experimentation with croquet-style putting, which was ultimately banned by the USGA.
So why is the putter non-conforming? A putter needs to have the shaft enter the head at a minimum angle, and DeChambeau's center-shafted putter -- at least one of several submitted by DeChambeau to the USGA -- apparently doesn't meet that standard. So when DeChambeau played in the CareerBuilder Challenge, he used a putter with a shaft located in the back of the half-circle-shaped head.
However, DeChambeau and Schy maintain that there's been a hassle with the putter each week, with different requests made to get the putter conforming for that week's tournament. DeChambeau, who has said once he figures out the method that it'll "be like cheating," is concerned that the USGA will continue the scrutiny with the hope of getting him to abandon the sidesaddle stroke.
Schy told Morning Read that the issues have only emboldened DeChambeau: "It's probably solidified his desire even more."