The USGA has ruled Bryson DeChambeau’s use of a compass — the kind that draws circles, not measures direction — is against the Rules of Golf and will be illegal moving forward.
DeChambeau has used a compass several times throughout the 2018 season, but he caught the attention of the PGA Tour and USGA officials when he was shown on CBS cameras using it at the Travelers Championship, the week after the US Open.
The PGA Tour deferred to the USGA, who was tasked to figure out what the Rules of Golf would say about using a compass (or a protractor, depending on who you ask) as DeChambeau does, which was to place the actual location of pin placements from the PGA Tour-supplied pin sheet onto his green book to measure greens and how shots would react on and off the green.
After a brief investigation of the question, which seemed destined to work against DeChambeau as the compass was effectively used as a distance-measuring device, the USGA came to its ruling, first reported by Golf Channel. However, the USGA told the PGA Tour specifically the compass wasn’t necessarily considered a distance-measuring device so much as a piece of equipment which could help him score better.
“The USGA has ruled that the use of a protractor (also known as a drawing compass) during a stipulated round is a violation of Rule 14-3a of the Rules of Golf,” read a PGA Tour statement to players notifying them of the ruling. “It is considered ‘unusual equipment that might assist him in making a stroke or in his play.’”
The end result is DeChambeau can’t use a compass moving forward in tournament competition.