I am mystified by the USGA’s decision to disallow the use of an elementary compass by any golfer. This simple device (the bane of many middle schoolers’ lives) is a fundamental tool used when studying geometry. There are no major secrets to its use and in the hands of a skilled mathematician, can produce amazing information. However, for most of us it is a simple tool and, in my opinion, there is nothing unusual about it. So why has the USGA decided to ban the compass from the game of golf after Bryson DeChambeau used one at the Travelers Championship?
Many great players use whatever is available to make their best golf shot. Whether it is a long iron, approach shot or putt, the amount of data available to the professional golfer and their caddie far exceeds what an amateur could comprehend. Now, suddenly using an elementary compass offers an advantage that is limited to only a few players. I think that is a bit of a stretch!
The following is a short excerpt from an article written in 2013 by the Augusta Chronicle. It highlights how much information a caddie has at their fingertips with respect to the green and fairways. “PGA Tour caddie Paul Tesori has gleaned detailed information in his Augusta National yardage books that he accumulated in 10 years of caddying in the Masters Tournament.”
“The arrows indicate the direction putts will break, based on Tesori’s past experience at Augusta National Golf Club.”
“Tesori marks the percent of the slope on the 18th green in three areas: 5 percent, 6.5 percent and 4.8 percent.”
“At the bottom right of the green, “R.C.” stands for Rae’s Creek and what Tesori calls the Rae’s Creek Influence on putts at Augusta National. Putts will break toward the portion of Rae’s Creek behind the 11th green, the lowest point on the course.”
Just by looking at the picture, I can tell that the amount of data collected by Tesori is astounding (if you want all the details of the article you can drop by their website). I can see that the USGA would want to ban the elementary compass because of the advantage gained by applying a bit of physics.
The USGA cited Rule 14-3 as the reason DeChambeau or any other golfer cannot use an elementary compass. Golfworld sums up the situation as follows: “The law ostensibly in play is Rule 14-3, which bans the use of any artificial device or unusual equipment for the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play.” So, if this is the case, then it is possible that caddie yardage books would fail the same Rule 14-3 test. The amount of information in the books is far greater than anything an elementary compass can create in a few short minutes.
My take is that the USGA does not really understand how DeChambeau actually uses the compass and how he, because of his physics background, has an advantage over the other professionals. Additionally, I think they are telling all the other professional golfers that they are not bright enough to use a compass, so “We got your back – we banned it”.
The USGA is sending the wrong message to the golfing world. They are “dumbing down” golf in an attempt to level the playing field. This is akin to telling the top professional sprinters to slow down a bit to let the field catch up so they all finish at the same time. From my point of view, the USGA failed and if Bryson DeChambeau can use an elementary compass to ensure the pin sheet is correct, then I say all the power too him!
What do you think? Did Bryson DeChambeau break Rule 14-3 by using an elementary compass at the Travelers Champioship?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!