It keeps happening to Bryson – the broken club

It seems that Bryson Dechambeau just can not stay out of the limelight. The shaft of his driver broke on the 7th hole – probably not surprising given the violent speed of his new swing (watch the video below if you haven’t seen the incident). The breakage was most definitely accidental and not done in anger. He was allowed to replace the shaft – but why?

Under the standard Rules of Golf, Bryson would not have been allowed to put a new club into play as he already had 14 in the bag. Rule 4.1b(3) states “No Replacing Lost or Damaged Clubs”. The only exception to this is if the player (or their caddy) did not cause the damage (e.g. if someone else drove a golf buggy over their bag). However he would have been allowed to continue playing with it (even though it had become non-conforming) or he could have repaired it using the original grip, shaft, and clubhead – Rule 4.1(2).

So did the Rules Official get it wrong? We need to look at Item 9a in the 2020 PGA Tour Local Rules Hard Card (see the images below).

As it happens the PGA Tour have incorporated Model Local Rule G-9 into their hard card for 2020 (If a player’s club is “broken or significantly damaged” during the round by the player or caddie, except in the case of abuse, the player may replace the club with any club under Rule 4.1b(4)).

He was therefore allowed to replace (not repair) the club. He dispatched someone to his car where he had a spare shaft and was able to fit it before he next needed to hit a driver. His interview after the round is below.

Interestingly they seemed set on making sure that the new club was exactly the same spec / set up as the broken one. While this may be best for the player it is not a requirement under this rule – “…the player may replace the club with any club…” (so could have replaced the driver with e.g. a putter if he wanted to).

But here is a teaser for those who like a debate on the fine detail and letter of the rules.

  • Should he have been allowed to continue to use the original driver head?
  • By using it did it then constitute a repair when he was actually only allowed to replace?
  • Rule 4.1b(4) expressly forbids building a club from parts carried by anyone for the player during the round. While the shaft has not been carried (it was fetched from the car park) surely the driver head was being carried during the round.

I have to say that I would be disappointed if a penalty were to be incurred in this situation as my feeling would be that the new shaft (& grip) attached to the old head would constitute a new club. However as the rules are currently written I think there was a technical infringement.

Fellow Refs – let me know your thoughts……..

2 thoughts on “It keeps happening to Bryson – the broken club

    1. That’s an interesting reference Nigel. It looked to me like Bryson kept the driver head with him and fitted the new shaft himself once it had been brought to him. Which makes it a similar situation to Harold Varner’s. Differences might be that in 2019 MLR G-9 to allow replacement of a damaged club was not on the PGA Tour hard card. Also, Harold Varner had presumably been carrying the offending driver head as a “part” from the beginning of his round.

      If Bryson had been penalised for this it would not feel to be a “fair” penalty, and he did discuss with the rules official whether he could repair/replace so he might have been told it was OK to put a new shaft on that head in which case he was acting under instruction so no penalty anyway.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s