“There’s an old saying that being a Rules Official is hours of boredom interrupted by moments of chaos. However, most of the time, you’re just looking for a nice spot in the shade!”
There’s a lot of truth to that statement. A good day as an official is a day without a single ruling. That could mean that you just spent ten hours on a golf course and the biggest thing you did was eat lunch!
Frankly, being an official can be boring work. However, there are some things you can do to make it much more interesting.
Location, location, location
- Just as being a referee or an umpire in any major sport, you need to be in position to make the call. Position yourself at a spot beyond the landing zone or away from the putting green where you can observe tee balls or approach shots and where they may cross a margin or out of bounds line.
- Try to remain stationary as not to disrupt or interfere with the players. Do not initiate conversation with players.
- You know what a ruling looks like; a player or players pointing, questioning, huddling or searching. Start your watch and make yourself “conspicuously obvious”. That means if they need to look for an official, you’ll be there but not so close as to get into the situation.
- Do not drive down the middle of the fairway during play; stay off to the side and preferably on the cart paths.
Radio, radio, radio
- Confirm any rulings over the radio before making the ruling. That will keep the other officials alert and serve to authorize the ruling. It’s also a great learning experience for all of the officials to hear the rulings over the radio.
- If there are any questions as to the ruling, other officials will have the time to look up applicable Rules or Decisions without a player breathing down their neck. You need to stay with the player.
- Don’t put on a Rules of Golf clinic while you’re making a ruling. The player just wants to get back to playing golf.
- Don’t charge into a ruling. If they need you, they’ll wave you over. Go ahead and make the ruling and get out; don’t linger. Otherwise, stay away.
- If it’s going to be a while in stroke play before it can be sorted out; have the player play two balls under Rule 3-3.
- As long as you’ve got some time on your hands, it may be a good time to do some reading. Recommended reading: Rules of Golf or Decisions on the Rules of Golf -not the local newspaper.
And by the way, don’t forget the sunscreen and the bug spray!