Participants in an event are keenly conscious of the spirit in which it is conducted. Competitors truly appreciate a well-run championship, and there is no more certain way to hurt the reputation of an event (and in turn the association in charge of conducting the event) than by lackadaisical management. It may be difficult and unpleasant to be totally precise in enforcement of Rules, but it is a rare golfer who does not prefer to compete in a first class event. Authority should be exercised for the sole purpose of helping to ensure that an event will be fairly played under sporting conditions.
Officials should remember that, as members of the Committee, their primary role is to lend assistance and offer counsel so as to help contestants avoid unnecessary penalties and to obtain relief when entitled under the Rules. Officials are cautioned not to use their position simply to watch play; this can be distracting and quickly recognized by the players and fellow officials.
With that said, another goal of the CSGA and its Competitions Committee is to provide an enjoyable experience for all participants in its event, including the volunteers. You are encouraged to keenly observe and enjoy the great (and sometimes not so great) shots throughout the day. Although talking with players is discouraged, there are times that light hearted humor or casual conversation is appropriate. In these cases, always make sure you are fully aware of the situation and most importantly the individual player(s) involved. Make sure to always remember that you are more than a spectator and represent the Committee and CSGA each time you volunteer.
- Apply the Rules of Golf
- Decide questions of fact
- Facilitate fair play under sporting conditions
- Maintain decorum and the spirit of the game
- Prevent breaches of the Rules whenever possible
- Be conspicuously inconspicuous - “Players are quick to recognize the referee or official who makes use of his position to better enjoy the play or to inflate his own sense of importance.”
- Be diplomatic and respectful - “A brusque or officious handling of a situation can, by upsetting the player, magnify the effect of a penalty far beyond the extent of the penalty itself.”
Many officiating styles are somewhat arbitrary, in that no official should operate entirely in one mode all the time. Officiating is very much governed by context, which means that you must adapt your approach to the type of game being played and the situation in which you find yourself. By knowing how to change your style, you can adapt to fit the circumstances. In fact, the key to successful officiating is flexibility in adapting your style to the situation.
Even though officiating styles call for flexibility, the CSGA requests that all volunteers practice “preventative officiating”. Preventative officiating simply put is the attempt to avoid problems before they arise. Preventative officiating takes two forms and are fairly similar but are most likely done at different times throughout a round.
Helping players avoid violations - An example of this would be a starter making sure that all players have counted their clubs and marked their golf balls. The simple act of reminding a player to mark his golf ball may save a player one or more strokes later in their round.
Notifying a player not to commit a violation - An example of this would be a Rules official telling a player to not clean the golf ball when it is lifted to determine if it is unfit for play. In this example the official is making sure the player (whether aware of the Rules or not) does not violate this procedure.
How aggressive or passive an official should be depends on:
- Experience of the player field
Junior Competitors – more aggressive to prevent Rules breaches
Experienced Competitors – take a more passive officiating approach
- Number of Officials available
- Experience level of the officiating crew
- The individual’s officiating experience
- Guidelines established by the Committee or Official in Charge
You should always politely draw attention to potential infractions you see and lend reasonable assistance to the player to reinforce fair play and sporting conditions.
Do your part to help all of us avoid the two greatest sources of officiating error:
“Fear of embarrassment” which does not allow an official to seek outside help when he is legitimately uncertain as to how to handle a situation.
“Time pressure” which an official places on himself in the mistaken belief that he is expected to make a Rules decision instantaneously and without the use of backup material.
“Be firm and positive and take plenty of time”
- Richard Tufts