Winning an Oscar
“I just won the Oscar for a rules official” Ryan Gregg said to his wife Lori. He had just received a letter from the United States Golf Association inviting him to serve as a rules official at the U.S. Amateur Championship in August at The Olympic Club.
As an assistant director of rules and competitions for the NCGA, Ryan was a candidate for this honor because of his exceptional expertise in the Rules of Golf and his attendance at numerous PGA/USGA Rules Workshops. The USGA requires a 92% or better score on its test to officiate at U.S. Opens or U.S. Amateurs; on his most recent test he scored 98. Ryan has enjoyed extensive tournament experience including conducting USGA Qualifiers and refereeing for the NCGA Amateur. In 2001 he was a rules official at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in Fresno.
It is USGA policy to afford local officials at regional golf associations the opportunity to officiate in the region where championships are held. Roger Val, NCGA director of rules and competitions, also officiated at The Olympic Club. Roger has worked a number of U.S. Amateurs including the 99th at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the 100th Amateur at Baltusrol in New Jersey. Other NCGA officials (also serving on USGA Committees) who officiated at the August championship include Jim Moriarty, Junior Committee; Sheri Erskine, Handicap and Course Rating; Pat Newmark, Senior Women’s Amateur; Lon Haskew, Mid-Amateur; and Gail Rogers, Women’s Committee.
While Ryan Gregg did not have any unusual rulings with his groups of players or matches, Newmark had the unpleasant duty of informing a player he had just incurred a two-stroke penalty. During the second day of stroke-play qualifying on the 15th hole at the Ocean Course, a player, knowing he had hit a ball into the deep rough during a practice round and it was easy for a ball to be lost even with spotters, had his caddie go forward to watch his tee shot. His caddie stood behind a tree, watching to see where the ball would land. Unfortunately the player’s ball hit high into the Cypress tree where the caddie was standing, bounced from limb to limb and eventually came free, striking the caddie before it hit the ground. Under Rule 19-2b, in stroke play the player incurs a two-stroke penalty and the ball is played as it lies.
It was Newmark’s training and experience that allowed her to apply the correct ruling. What about you? If “winning an Oscar” sounds interesting, and you would love to walk the fairways as a referee at a USGA Championship just as the seven NCGA officials did, here is how to get the necessary training and experince:
The first step is to volunteer at your club or course. Serving as the rules or tournament chairman for a year or two will give you a great understanding of the details of tournament administration and provide a variety of opportunities to learn. If you love the rules, consider attending an NCGA Rules Seminar. See the NCGA website; under the “Other Services” link click on “Education” for the seminar dates for February – April of 2008. As you continue to master the rules, the next step is to attend a USGA Rules of Golf Workshop.
If you are still intrigued, have the time to volunteer and the type of personality that wants to help players avoid getting a penalty, ask for an application from your regional golf association to become a tournament official. The Northern California Golf Association, Pacific Women’s Golf Association and the Women’s Golf Association of Northern California are always looking for members to be part of their tournament/rules committees.
As your skills grow, continue to volunteer at the highest level. Before long you will reach the range of 92 – 100% on the USGA Rules test. One day you’ll open an envelope inviting you to officiate a major USGA event. Winning the Oscar for a Rules Official can happen. Just ask Ryan.
Photo Caption: Jim Moriarty, Pat Newmark, Gail Rogers, Lon Haskew and Ryan Gregg