Junior Golf: Your New Best Friend

 

In this Wednesday Waggle we will look at increasing your junior golfer’s number of friends. This person is 1 who your daughter may not know very much about, however, in this post I will give a proper introduction. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

I’m talking about rules officials. Virtually all tournaments in the US are governed by the USGA’s Rules of Golf and the book is frequently updated. International tournaments may have a different ruling body, but probably 90%+ of golf rules worldwide are the same. Until your girl gets out of college, she pretty much only needs to concern herself with the USGA rules. Any local exceptions, which usually are ground under repair, or hazards vs out-of-bounds situation, or just unique local/course rules are announced before the start of the 1st round and may be handed to the players in printed material as well.

Your daughter must pay attention to these instructions and she must read and understand any material given out prior to teeing off. Over the last 17 years folks, I assure you that I have seen more kids ignore these rules than pay attention to them. Some just take the printed material and stuff it into their bag without even looking at it. That’s a mistake. S3 and I were told, a long time ago by a rules official, “You’ll win more golf tournaments if you know the rules.” It sounds so simple.

It took getting to college in our part of the world before it seemed that most of the players I was watching actually knew the rules and were interested in seeing them properly applied. S3 and his playing buddies are all pretty familiar with the several rulings you always see in tournaments, the most common of which is relief, as in your daughter taking relief from her ball being on the cart path or some other applicable obstruction. Then there is the old question is this casual water?, and everybody in the group takes a look. And of course is this hazard, native area or rough?

The best advice I have is to encourage your girl to never guess at a rule. The rules officials are on hand to help, not hurt the players. Ask someone to get a rules official, please. Yes, some have more personality than others and some are not much fun, but they should at least want the rules to be properly applied. These men and women are subject to the same integrity requirements as the entrants.

Also in almost every tournament, unless it is specifically forbidden, it is acceptable to play 2 balls. Your daughter must advise her playing partners she is doing so before playing the 2nd ball. This is a great question to ask at the players gathering before the start of the event.

With all due respect to every rules person S3 and I have ever been around, I must say that the rules officials at the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in Port St Lucie, Florida, are especially amazing. Every 1 is a PGA professional and seems to really enjoy his duties. Of the 8 or 10 we’ve been around the past 4 years, every 1 at least gives you a head nod or returns a friendly wave of the hand. Duty comes 1st and they are always ready to quickly get to a hole where they are needed.

imageRight now I want to give a special shoutout to Brian Fahey, PGA professional, and 1 of the rules folks who was on S3’s course for every round this year and I think for the previous 3 years as well. Brian does rules at 3 tournaments this year, the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, the Junior Ryder Cup and the PGA Senior Championship, all while being Tournament Director at Pinehurst! Way to go Brian, great stuff! He always has a smile on his face and will give you a minute or 2 for a visit, but he is listening to his headset for what hole he is going to next. Here’s Brian and me at #6 green on the Ryder Course.

Brian and the whole rules crew are another reason the college players feel like they are treated like royalty when they play in this event at the PGA Village. They are part of the team that actually does treat the tournament like a PGA event. So parents remember, rules people can save your daughter strokes and perhaps keep her from making a misstep that could lead to a dreaded dq, something that should be avoided at all costs.

See you on #1 tee, ready to find a rules official when you need 1… Sam

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