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Masters 2024: How Bryson DeChambeau's 3D-printed irons got the OK for tournament play

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Nothing is ever simple in Bryson DeChambeau’s universe. It’s been an article of faith throughout his professional career—from Bulked Up Bryson to YouTube content creator to LIV Golf posterboy—that has been repeatedly confirmed throughout the week at the 2024 Masters, most notably when the former U.S. Open champion was seen carrying an Augusta National signpost over his shoulder during Friday’s second round. Just when you think you’ve seen it all …

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Ben Walton

Then there was Saturday’s third round, when DeChambeau has a share of the lead at six under par through 10 holes, only to make three bogeys and a double before holing out from the fairway for an improbably birdie on the 18th to finish off a roller-coaster 75.

DeChambeau’s wild odyssey in his eighth Masters start had him just four shots back entering Sunday’s final round, close enough to 54-hole leader Scottie Scheffler to make him a person of interest. Should DeChambeau pull off the comeback it will be a triumphant story made all the more improbable by the fact that the irons he is using this week were considered non-conforming by the USGA as recently as Monday.

According to various reports, DeChambeau has been working with officials at Avoda Golf since last fall on the idea of one-of-a-kind set of clubs that incorporate ports in the toe area and bulge in the face.

“I designed them with someone from back home, and they have just got a different curvature on the face than other equipment,” DeChambeau said this week at Augusta. “Most equipment is flat. These have a different curvature on the face that allows me to have my mis-hits to go a little straighter sometimes.”

The irons’ unique characteristics meant making multiple subtle tweaks along the way was more expeditious using a 3D rapid prototyping process rather than continually having to create dozens of unique molds and a time-consuming finishing step for each forged head.

DeChambeau said he had his set—he’s using a 4-iron through PW—ready last week, presumably with the hope that he could put them in play during the LIV Golf event at Doral (replacing the Ping i230 irons he had been using) for a test run prior to competing in the Masters. But after checking with the USGA last Thursday, the clubs were considered non-conforming. Specifically, according to DeChambeau, the groove edges on the irons were considered too sharp as compared to requirements in the Rules of Golf.

DeChambeau said he and his team were in touch with Carter Rich, USGA senior director, equipment rules and conformance, over the weekend in an attempt to modify the clubs so that they could be fall within the Rules of Golf guidelines. It wasn’t until Tuesday that DeChambeau says the clubs were finally approved for competition.

“We didn’t really think it was going to be non-conforming, but they were, just the groove edge was just too sharp,” DeChambeau said. “Carter Rich was super helpful, and I have to thank him for getting those approved and going through the right process.”

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Ben Walton

Rich was onsite at Augusta, working as a marshal. According to the USGA, he used a GrooveScan testing kit to confirm that the irons met with the technical standards as listed in the rules, The GrooveScan incorporates a high-tech version of silly putty that takes a reverse impression of the grooves. A common flatbed scanner and software program then measures that to determine the groove dimensions.

According to a Golfweek story, DeChambeau’s team buffed and grinded the grooves until they were deemed conforming.

DeChambeau used them in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, saying he felt comfortable with them and had no issues. “But I had been practicing with them quite a while before that,” he said.

The irons all use the same single-length shafts, currently made by LA Golf, that DeChambeau has employed throughout his professional career.

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