‘I need a ruling!’ That’s a common cry at golf championships everywhere – and England Golf’s referees are ready to respond.
As the playing season gets underway, 50 of the country’s leading referees have been attending an England Golf seminar to sharpen their skills and update them on championship policy for 2016.
It’s the first time the seminar has taken place and the two-day event at Woodhall Spa – the home of England Golf – included practical sessions, a refresher on changes to the rules, an introduction to the new pace of play policy and the R&A’s Level 3 exam.
“We’ve been delighted by the response of the referees and the number who have attended the seminar,” said Toby Thorne, England Golf’s Deputy Championship Director. “It’s a great opportunity to get together at the start of the season and ensure a consistent approach throughout all our events.”
Feedback on England Golf championships frequently focusses on pace of play issues and this season there will be positive action to keep play moving smoothly and more quickly.
Toby Thorne said: “We will be taking a proactive stance, with positive action to speed up the pace of play and keep the field flowing. While we don’t want to start penalising players it is more likely that we will see players on the clock.
“This is a big step forward and keeps us in line with other golfing bodies and with the R&A’s new policy.”
A new refereeing system, with each championship team led by a Tournament Director, will co-ordinate the policy and ensure consistency at all England golf events.
The seminar also focussed on rules changes introduced this year, including one which affects players signing for a wrong score in stroke play (Rule 6-6d); the anchoring of clubs which will affect players using long-handled putters (Rule 14-1); and the use of artificial devices (Rule 14-3).
It also looked at relief from ‘temporary immovable obstructions’ such as on-course scoreboards, which has become increasing relevant with the growing use of branding at championships.
The referees were asked to sit the R&A Level 3 exam if they had not taken it in the last four years. This will support England Golf’s decision to introduce The R&A Rules Education Programme in 2016, offering the opportunity to graduate through three tiers of Rules tutoring and learning. “We would like to be able to use our referees as tutors but they have to be R&A qualified,” explained Toby.
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