Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur - Round of 64

            Today was the first round of match play at the US Junior Amateur. I also had my first match play assignment as the observer for Ryan Gregg (who is now my boss as Director of Rules and Competitions at the NCGA).  Our match had two quality players, Alvaro Ortiz and Brad Dalke. 
            The observer’s job is actually more complete than simply spotting.  I am responsible for forward crowd control in case spectators from the match in front are lagging behind, noting any potential rules situations that may arise for the referee and to determine which player is away.  At the first green, Ryan held me back and we developed a signal for me to tell him who was away on each shot.
            As an observer you don’t get to follow the match you’re with very well because once the balls are around the putting green, you have to get into position on the next hole for the tee shots.  So I never knew how the match was going except for checking the scores online on my phone.  As an observer you do, however, get to watch the match in front of you quite well:

John Augenstein in the first match hits his approach to #1.  Match Play was underway!

            The  “who’s away” signal turned out to be pretty cool for the players, because they didn’t know it was happening.  Ryan told me afterward he kept telling them who was away after their drives and approaches from long distances and into blind greens and they couldn’t figure out how he did it! Truthfully, our players made it quite easy on me because they were rarely in any trouble and almost always in the fairway.  In fact, the only time there was any real spotting to do I nearly got hit as Alvaro’s tee shot on the ninth hole drove right through the empty space previously occupied by my head as I ran back from the wayward shot.  It bounced off the cart path and I was able to spot it as it rattled around the woods into a playable (albeit not toward the hole) position.
            Being an observer can be a great workout though, because in order to get into position to spot for hazards, there were times I had to move very quickly.  Ryan got a great shot of me running on the 13th hole so that I could get into position to spot a ball in the hazard without disrupting play.

Now that's effort! I run to get into position as the preceding match walks off the green.

            The one disappointing thing was that there were no rulings to write about.  The closest thing to a ruling came on the final hole.  Alvaro’s ball laid on the putting green, but part on the fringe as well.  His feet were very close if not standing on a sprinkler head next to the green.  Had he asked for relief, or even asked if his ball was on the green, there was the potential for a relief situation where the ball could be placed off the putting green. But he never asked.
            The best part of the match was that it ended on the 15th hole.  Which meant that I didn’t have to run up the hill to the 16th green or even worse up to the 17th hole.  Those walks are two of the three toughest hills on the course.  In the end Dalke won 4 & 3, shooting -2 thru 15 holes. 
            Tomorrow I will be the observer in the final match of the day in the round of 16.  

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