Ryan Gregg’s Travel Blog
Ryan Gregg, Director of Education and Rules, has been invited to be a walking Rules Official at the 33rd U.S. Senior Open Championship at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Michigan and the 65th U.S. Junior Championship at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham, New Hampshire July 11-19. Read below to follow his progress as he officiates at these two historic national championships.
JULY 10 & 11 – TRAVEL DAY /COURSE PREVIEW
I took the Red Eye out of San Jose to Los Angeles and then onto Detroit, arrived at 7:30 a.m. EST (an hour later than originally scheduled due to an oxygen issue) on Wednesday. The airport is about an hour south of the hotel. I dropped off my bags at the hotel and then went to Indianwood GCC to walk the course prior to the Rules Meeting.
I found the USGA Office (located in the Women’s Locker Room) and picked up the Hole by Hole Rule Descriptions and Local Rules. I then headed downstairs to get a locker to use during my stay. This was pretty cool because we share the same locker room as the players.
On to the course…The Hole by Hole Descriptions is a four-page document outlining anything Rules related that you may see on that hole. The first page of it is full of definitions like how the out of bounds is defined (perimeter fencing, white stakes, etc.), what is considered a movable obstruction (roping, staking, TV microphones, beverage coolers, etc.), immovable obstructions (irrigation control boxes, weather stations, wooden steps and paths, etc.) and temporary immovable obstructions (concession tents, generators, TV towers, grandstands, etc.). The following pages read as follows:
Hole 17, Par 3 (197) (3 DZ)
TV Camera Platform behind TG – TIO – LR (Teeing Ground – Temporary Movable Obstruction – Local Rule)
LB/TB (Leader Board/Thru Board) Right of FW (Fairway) – TIO – DZ (Drop Zone) This tells us that if the player has interference from the Leader Board located to the right of the fairway, they may use the drop zone that has been provided.
Flanker Camera right of PG (Putting Green) – MO (Movable Obstruction)
RF Equipment/GS/TV Tower/GS/Flagpoles/Flags behind PG-Single TIO – 2DZ – SS – ES
I think you get the idea…
The course is in great shape considering that they received 3 inches of rain last week along with 100 degree temperatures. It should be a great test for the players. For additional information about the Indianwood GCC click here and watch the video.
18th hole – putting green and clubhouse
Overlooking several holes on the front nine
I was also able to pick up my assignments for Thursday and Friday from the USGA Office. On Thursday, I will walk with the 2 p.m. off #10 – Billy Tuten from Sugar Land, Texas, Brian Fogt of Wildwood, Mo. and Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas. Friday I am walking with Russ Cochran of Paducah, Ky., Roger Chapman from England and Defending Champion Olin Brown of Tequesta, Fla.
This is my first opportunity to work the U.S. Senior Open and my 5th U.S. Junior Amateur. I have also had the privilege to work the 2010 U.S. Open, the 2009 & 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2007 and 2009 U.S. Mid-Am Championships. I have been a member of the Junior Amateur Committee since 2008. Other Junior Amateur Committee members from Northern California include Jim Moriarty from San Francisco (he is also working the Senior Open) and Karl Rodefer from Columbia. Both are Rules Certified Tournament Officials with the NCGA.
Thursday, July 12 – FIRST ROUND
There was a nice surprise when I arrived at the golf course today. Billy Tuten had withdrawn and been replaced with Dan Bieber from Alamo, Calif. I have known Dan for about 15 years and was really happy to see that he got in. He was the first alternate from the Green Valley qualifying and was the last player to get into the field. Unfortunately, Dan did not get to the course in time to have a practice round. He really had a tough day and is currently in last place after shooting an 88. He actually had a great attitude about the whole thing and was just happy to get the opportunity to play in the U.S. Senior Open. Robert Thompson finished at even par after having gotten it to 2-under after 14 holes and Brian Fogt shot 73.
I had only one incident to report on my Rules Card. On the fourth hole, Brian hit his tee shot into the lateral water hazard on the right side of the hole. We did the best to determine where he last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard and he chose to drop the ball within two club-lengths from that spot. Rule 26-1c (i) is the applicable Rule. His next shot came to rest on the green and he lipped out a 40-foot putt that would have been a great par. Brian also had an interesting thing occur on our final hole. His second shot, from out of the rough, hit the front of the green and rolled all the way to the back of the green where it came to rest in the fringe. It stayed at rest there until we reached the green and - on its own - rolled down from there towards the hole. It left him with about a 10-foot putt for birdie. Unfortunately, he missed the putt. Several spectators thought he was going to be required to replace it. However, since neither an outside agency nor the player or his caddie caused the ball to move, the ball is to be played as it lies. Other than that, the guys kept the ball in play and away from the need for rulings. I hope for a bit more of the same tomorrow.
The day was not without interesting rulings for all groups. See the following link for those rulings. Rules Corner
The group I am walking with tomorrow shot the following scores in round one: Russ Cochran-68, Roger Chapman-68, and Defending Champion Olin Brown-69.
Dan Bieber putting for birdie on the par-3 13th hole
Players looking over thier putts on the 18th hole
July 13 – SECOND ROUND
There was a slight change of assignments. I was switched from the 10th tee to the first tee. No problem, my group now consisted of Jeff Sluman, Loren Roberts and Tom Lehman. Good group. I could tell from the first tee shots that these were a different caliber of player than those I walked with the previous day. It was one good shot after another and the only difference between these three is whether or not they would make the putt. Lehman made the putts and Sluman couldn’t buy a made-putt.
It wasn’t until the fifth hole until I had my first ruling with this group. It is a 205-yard par 3. Tom’s ball was at rest on the putting green and Jeff’s tee shot rolled down the slope and hit Tom’s ball. Rule 18-5 applies to Tom’s ball and the ball must be replaced. Rule 19-5 applied to Jeff’s ball and it was required to be played as it lied. The colliding of the balls was reported to us by a marshal and several spectators as we approached the green. The interesting thing is Jeff’s ball now occupied the original location of Tom’s ball. Now that the balls are considered to lie in the same spot, who plays first? So Tom says to Jeff, “Let’s flip to see who goes first.” Jeff agrees and calls “tails” prior to Tom flipping the coin. This is where it gets interesting and a bit confusing. The coin comes up heads and Jeff’s says “you won, you go first.” Huh? It seems to me that the winner of the coin toss would want to go second so that he could get a read of the putt. However, Tom agrees and plays first and I stayed out of it. The only other ruling I had was on the 10th hole when, once again, Tom’s ball that was at rest on the putting green was moved by Loren’s second shot from the fairway. With the help of the surrounding marshals and spectators we determined the original location of Tom’s ball and replaced it.
Pace of play was the talk of the day. There were many groups in the morning wave that were being put on the clock, but no penalties were assessed. Most of the delays were because of lost ball searches in the high rough. My group was one or two minutes under their scheduled time through the first 13 holes and pretty much in position with the group in front of them. However, on the par-3 13th hole there was a backup. We were delayed 14 minutes and never made up the time. Our scheduled time to finish was 4 hours and 29 minutes. We finished 31 minutes over.
Tom played really well and finished with an unfortunate bogey on the last hole to shoot 4-under and was just one off the lead when we were done. Loren played steady and shot 1-under. Jeff played well from tee to green but the putts wouldn’t drop and he finished with a round of 71. The three of them would easily make the cut.
My group on the ninth green
The 12th green at Indianwood Golf and Country Club
Now that my assignments were done at the U.S. Senior Open it was off to the airport. I had arranged for the courtesy shuttles to take me to the airport at 2 p.m. However, when I was having lunch, a fellow Junior Amateur Committee member said that he too was headed to the airport on the same flight and offered me a ride. So I canceled my ride with the shuttle and hitched a ride with Brian Lewis. The travel was smooth and we arrived in New Hampshire at 9 p.m. I met up with Karl Rodefer at the airport and we rode together to the hotel in Portsmouth which was about an hour away. Tomorrow we will visit the Golf Course of New England, the site of the 2012 U.S. Junior Championship.
July 14 – JUNIOR AMATEUR COURSE PREVIEW
I went to the course this morning to stop by the USGA Headquarters to pick up my credentials and paperwork prior to walking the course. I made it to the course with only one wrong turn! However, I parked my car in a place that prohibited the caterers from setting up for tonight’s welcome dinner so they had to come out and get me off the course to move my car. In my defense, I did ask for permission prior to parking there.
On to the course review. One thing immediately stuck out on the Hole by Hole descriptions. HORSE FLY TRAPS (HFT). The HFT’s are considered moveable obstructions (Rule 24-1) and are on every hole (See picture below). After being on the course for a short while I understood the need for the HFT’s. Horse flies are very agressive and will bite. Besides that, The Golf Club of New England is a fabulous golf course with just about one water hazard or lateral water hazard on every hole, and the course does not have a single adjacent fairway which means it covers a lot of acreage. We better make sure we have a good pair of walking shoes and a good understanding of Rule 26-1. For additional information about the course, watch the video on the Junior Championship website.
HFT’s Movable Obstructions
Players practicing on hole No. 2
One of the evacuation locations throughout the golf course (I hope we don’t need them)
Water Hazard and Lateral Water Hazard transition.
The 209-yard par-3 eighth hole. The orange tarp is to keep the players from taking divots on the teeing grounds in the areas they are planning to use during the competition.
The 572-yard par-5 15th hole (and the cart that came to pick me up)
July 15 – COMMITTEE GOLF OUTING, RULES MEETING and PLAYERS’ DINNER
The Committee Golf Outing was held at Lake Winnipesaukee Golf Club. I have a history of playing well in the event, but not today. The course was very beautiful with dramatic elevation changes and views. The format of the event is the two net balls of four and each player is playing match play against every other player in the field. One of our members designed a program to figure out the math.
The Rules Meeting was held at the host hotel and in attendance were the committee members, USGA staff and invited officials. The invited officials included local members of other USGA Committees like Regional Affairs, Mid-Am, Public Links, etc. The USGA staff presented a PowerPoint slideshow of situations on the course that need further clarification. With so many hazards on the course, the presentation focused on the areas where they have provided drop zones as an additional option for taking relief under Rule 26-1. Once again, pace of play was discussed.
The Players’ Dinner was held in an airplane hanger at Peas Airforce Base. The players had an opportunity to get a tour of one of the large military planes (KC 135 – an air re-fueling tanker). The guest speaker was Dean Beman. He spoke about his illustrious career and wished the players good luck. They also handed out awards to six players that are competing in their 4th Junior Amateur Championship which is an incredible feat. I sat with the future site members from Martis Camp and we discussed many of the aspects of hosting a national championship of this magnitude. There is no doubt they are fully capable of putting on a wonderfully memorable championship for the players and their families.
After the night concluded I headed to the airport to pick up our fellow committee member, Jim Moriarty. Unfortunately, because of the bad weather on the East Coast, his flight was delayed and I didn’t get back to my hotel until about 12:30 a.m. However, my assignment isn’t until 12:10 p.m. tomorrow so I should be able to catch up on some sleep.
Lake Winnipesaukee’s 16th hole
Players touring the KC – 135
The Junior Amateur Players’ Dinner
July 16 – First Round of the 65th U.S. Junior Championship
I walked with was the 12:10 p.m. group off the 10th tee. The players were Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley, Calif., Jake Judkins of San Antonio and George Cunningham of Tucson, Ariz. When I introduced myself to the players prior to the round, Maverick reminded me that I walked with his group two years ago at the Junior Amateur qualifying at Stanford. He didn’t qualify that year, but I did remember him. As a 16-year-old, Maverick is playing in his first championship outside the state of California. He is obviously a really good golfer, but also is an incredible student-athlete that will be attending Stanford after he finishes his senior year. I talked to his future collegiate coach, Conrad Ray, after the round and he told me that Maverick is probably one of the smartest players that has ever been on his team. He said that Maverick had almost a perfect score on the SAT. Maverick is also an avid hockey player and is the captain of the San Jose Sharks junior team that has won two state championships.
I don’t know if I had the longest hitters in the field but to start the round on the 521-yard uphill par 5, Maverick and George hit 3-woods and Jake an iron off the tee. All three players went for the green in two; Maverick hit it to the back of the green with an iron and the other two were just a bit short and offline. George actually ended up in the trees where he had interference on his line of play with two sprinkler control boxes that are immovable obstructions. He asked if he got relief, but I think he knew the answer when I explained that he Rule 24-2 only allows relief for interference for the lie of the ball, stance and area of intended swing. He had to punch out away from the green and ended up making a bogey. On the 18th hole George hit his tee shot into the lateral water hazard on the right side of the hole and we determined where it last crossed the margin and he chose to drop behind the hazard at a place that got him into the fairway. Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better on the hole as he made a triple bogey. On the next hole, Maverick hooked his tee shot into the trees and we searched for five minutes until we deemed the ball was lost. He didn’t play a provisional ball so he had to return to the tee. His uncle was his caddie (The Junior Amateur does not permit parents to caddie) and asked what would happen if we found the ball after five minutes. I explained that there are three actions that make a ball lost:
- If the ball is not found within 5 minutes
- If the player puts another ball into play under stroke and distance
- If the player plays a stroke at a provisional ball that is closer to the hole than where the original is likely to be
Maverick made a triple bogey. The rest of the way around the course there were no issues as the players kept the ball in the fairway and in play. Maverick finished with a 74 thanks to the help of his five birdies, Jake shot 76 with his triple bogey coming on his final hole and George shot 78. The top 64 players will qualify for match play. Three over is currently the 64th score. The theory for guessing the cut is to double the first round score and add one. So the predicted cut line is seven over – 151. Let’s see how the theory holds up.
After the conclusion of the first round, the USGA hosts a dinner for the Junior Amateur Committee, invited officials, future site hosts and a few other guests. The dinner was scheduled to be held at the golf course, but the water pump at the clubhouse was broken and they had to move the dinner to the host hotel. I commend the USGA staff for being able to put this together with very little notice. The dinner was a great way to catch up with all the other officials and share the stories from their groups. That night we honored our fellow committee member, Stan Grossman, who won the Joe Dey Award last year for his many years of volunteering with the USGA and the game of golf. Stan has been a member of the Junior Amateur since 1982 and is a terrific man. This dinner was also when awards were announced from our golf outing. Mostly it is the organizer, Derrel Curry, ribbing the winners (sandbaggers) and his opportunity to tell a few funny stories. Tonight I did not receive any grief about my golf game but rather the fact that I, last year, went to my position as a checkpoint timer without a radio and had to contact the rover and have them radio back to the office to retrieve one for me. It was pretty embarrassing. Thank you Derrel for reminding us!
The 187-yard par-3 17th hole
The 165-yard par-3 sixth hole
July 17 – ROUND TWO
I had another Northern California player in my group today. Eddie Lai from San Jose had a rough day. He is only 14 years old and the course seemed a little long for him. He shot 78 yesterday and followed it up with a 79 today. The other players in the group were Jack Vandenburg from Lubbock, Texas, who shot 79-79 and Kyle Sterbinski from Yardley, Penn., who shot 79-76. All three players missed the cut. The cut was at 9-over-par 153, so the theory did not work for this event. I believe it had much to do with the fact that there was a lot of wind during the afternoon rounds. Even though it was nice to have the breeze there to cool us off (around 94 degrees and a lot of humidity) it made for tough playing conditions. The USGA will have seven players playing off for one spot tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. They decided to postpone the playoff because of a thunderstorm coming in. It did come in and dropped a lot of rain in a short period of time along with a few lighting strikes. Good choice.
I didn’t have any rulings of note, but had a situation come up that I thought was interesting. On the par-4 477-yard 4th hole, Jack hit his tee shot left into the trees. Way into the trees. He hammered a provisional ball down the middle of the fairway. When we got up to where his original ball was likely to be, the marshals asked him if he would like them to search for it. He looked at me and said, “Why do they not want to search?” I explained that if they found his ball, his provisional is out of play and he would have to continue with his original. I further explained that if he found it and it was unplayable his options were not favorable. As stated in Rule 28, he would have had three options if the ball was found and unplayable – return to the tee and play a ball under stroke and distance, drop a ball on an imaginary line from the hole and the ball and go back as far as he would like (deeper in the trees), or drop a ball within two club-lengths from where the ball lies (still in the trees). He decided it would be best to not look for the ball and proceed with his provisional (good idea).
Tomorrow I have the 11:48 a.m. match - Richard Hattori from Honolulu vs. Khaled Attieh from Saudi Arabia.
The 388-yard par-4 13th hole
The 572-yard par-5 5th hole
July 18 – MATCH PLAY – ROUND OF 64
Now that the stroke play qualifying is over. Match play rounds begin. Since match play is so much different than stroke play, we have a brief meeting with the players prior to the start of their match to remind them of some specific Rules that they need to be aware of. Clyde Luther, Jr., Amateur Committee member for 31 years and Joe Dey Award recipient, customarily runs what is called the “putting clock”. He covers things like order of play (Rule 10), concessions (Rule 2-4), claims (Rule 2-5), information as to strokes taken (Rule 9-2) and few other things to make sure they understand the differences prior to starting their match.
Richard Hattori won the match 3 and 2. He played really well and putted lights out. He shot 32 on the front nine with five birdies and one bogey. He made the turn 3 up and closed out the match with an easy two-putt par on the 16th hole to finish off the match.
Ruling of note: On the 10th hole, Khaled’s second shot went into the trees. We found his ball. However, he wasn’t able to play towards the green because of a three-foot weed that was right in the line of his backswing. He asked if he could step on the weed to move it out of the way. Decision 13-2/1 describes taking the stance in the least intrusive manner as possible. I asked him to attempt to demonstrate an address position without moving the weed. It was obvious that he could address the ball without having to disrupt the weed. Now that he realized that he was not going to be able to move the weed, he elected to declare the ball unplayable and proceed under Rule 28-1(b) and dropped the ball on an imaginary line between the hole and the ball and went back about 10 yards and played to the green. His fifth shot was not close the hole. He conceded the hole as his opponent, Richard, had a three-foot putt for birdie.
There were no other rulings during the match, but the meteorologist had a busy day following a couple of large storms that were forming north and south of the course. We lucked out and they stayed away long enough for us to get all of the matches in. Many calls came through the radio informing us of the status of the storms as the skies darkened around us and thunder rumbled. At one point, we were told to tell the spectators to leave the course and return to the clubhouse. If we were to evacuate the course, there would not be enough room for the spectators in the evacuation vehicles.
There were eight players from Northern California that made it into match play and five of them made it to the second round, including co-medalist Shintaro Ban. Good luck boys.
My Rules Officiating is over and I am flying home tomorrow. It was fun and I tip my hat to the wonderful job the USGA staff and volunteers did to put on two incredible championships. I am really looking forward to getting home to see my wife and two children. Thank you for reading about my travels.
Clyde Luther running the putting clock with Richard (left) and Khaled
John “The Voice” Reis starts the players