Saturday, May 2, 2015

1st US Amateur Four-Ball Round 1 Notes

     For those who follow the blog and have been curious about my championship schedule this year - the real fun started today.  I have been lucky enough to be invited to work both of the inaugural US Amateur Four-Ball championships, starting with the men at Olympic Club.  What has made this event so special is not just the fact that it is the first of an era and an incredible venue, but that I have been able to share it with so many fellow NCGA volunteers and staff.  It has also been a slight blast from the past as former NCGA employees John van Der Borght and Ryan Magee are on site USGA staff for the championship, both of whom have had a significant impact on my development as an official and Rules instructor (sorry for implicating you guys).
   My assignment for this championship is the Checkpoint Official for hole #9 on the Lake course.  So, yeah, I'm not complaining about where I have to spend my days.  The USGA uses the four check-point system and has begun utilizing tablets to coordinate check-point information.  Without tablets, the four check-point system requires regimented radio communication between the check-point that frequently sounds like, "Checkpoint 9 copies - This is Checkpoint 13, could you repeat please? - Checkpoint 18 did you copy?"  The tablet not only simplifies the communication by tracking all warnings and potential penalties, but also simplifies the timing process itself by turning the job into a simple push of the button.  When the flagstick goes into the hole, simply push the 'Hole Completed' button and all the stats for the group show including the script for any messages that need to be given to the group if necessary.
    For me, it was a relatively uneventful day as there were only two groups that missed my checkpoint.  One of them, however, was a second miss and they were liable to a one-stroke penalty.  It was clear to see the miss was coming and I watched them play the hole to see if anything notable occurred.  Nothing of note, they neither appeared to play the hole slowly nor with any extra effort.  I will find out tomorrow how the appeal resulted, but I suspect the penalty stood.
    Since there wasn't much on the Rules front to report (my job is the checkpoint, other officials had hole assignments in the area), I'd like to add some notes on successful checkpoint officiating that I noted today:

-  Stick to the script like glue.  There is a reason checkpoint officials are provided a script, there is no reason to deviate from it, no matter how well you know the policy.
-  Only radio the necessary information/radio announcements.  Calling in more information than  than is asked for only clutters up the airwaves and will likely result in some details being missed or overlooked.  SIC's (Staff In Charge) like to call unnecessary extraneous information "weather reports," and while frequently it is decent information, we'll call you for it if we need it.
-  Hold on to that extra information, because the Rovers or SIC will come to you for it.
-  Have someone designated to cover checkpoint timer breaks specifically.  The only thing worse than someone stepping in for a timer who isn't prepared for the task is a timer who misses a group because they had to go to the restroom.
-  Inform the following group when a group misses a checkpoint.  The group that missed will take off and leave them in the dust otherwise.  In NCGA Championships we ask that you inform the two groups following.
-  Inform groups when the "barely" make a checkpoint.  In this championship, "barely" means that they were behind pace and in their final 59 seconds of allowance for their interval (14 minutes behind the group in front of them).

   The only other interesting note I have from today can only be told from what was heard on the radio (triple emphasis that the radio as used appropriately and at the right time by one of our own):  Karl Rodefer was heard dealing with a wrong ball situation.  When the player played the wrong ball he altered the original lie.  The owner of the wrong ball had to place a ball in the nearest lie most similar within one club-length of the original spot and not nearer the hole in accordance with Rule 20-3b.  Meanwhile, the player who played the wrong ball incurred a two-stroke penalty and had to correct the error by going to play his own original ball.  I don't have the specifics, but in the event that the wrong ball was his partner's ball (this is four-ball after all), the partner would not incur a penalty even if the act in some way assisted his play (Rule 31-5 and Decision 30-3c/1 for reference). Nice one Karl!  I did not hear of much else but fairly benign days from other officials, but I will be sure to pass on anything if I hear it.
    To come on FarbTalk: I have one more day at the Olympic Club, a few days helping to prepare for the NCGA's own Four-Ball Championship, and then I will make my way to Oregon and my favorite course in the world - Pacific Dunes - for the inaugural US Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship where I have a slew of wonderful assignments that I am very much looking forward to.
    For those looking for comments on Keegan Bradley/MAJ or other WGC incidents, I haven't seen the video so I have very little to say.  I've been informed of what appear to be some incorrect rulings given, including Rory receiving a re-drop due to interference by area of intended swing for a wrong putting green (interference under Rule 25-3 is for the lie of ball only, swing and stance are not included), but again, I did not witness it and have not seen the video so I cannot officially comment (that said, from the sounds of it, the Bradley ruling was correct and simply a situation where TIO relief subsequently led to obstruction relief).

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