Sunday, May 17, 2015

Women's Amateur Four-Ball Wrap-Up: Great Week at Pac Dunes

                I realize this comes a bit late, especially in an instant gratification kind of world, but the end result of my whirlwind of assignments at the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball was a nasty cold that took a few days to get over, all the while preparing for tomorrow’s Women’s Open Sectional.  That said, from a Rules perspective, I didn’t have a terribly exciting set of matches.  From the Referee’s perspective…that’s a good thing.
Outside Agencies
                I forgot to post a little picture of this guy who visited us on the 11th tee during the second round of stroke play.  All the while we were watching whales in the distance.
This guy was not afraid of us...He'd been fed before...

Thank You
                I say it a lot to our own volunteers, and I hear it a lot when working a USGA Championship, but I also want to say thank you to a few people that made the Championship a wonderful experience. First to the SIC Rachel Graves, thank you for the invite and the trust to give me such great assignments.  Great first championship!  To David Staebler for the bits of wisdom during setup and elsewhere along the way, always a pleasure working with you. To Shannon, Tracy and Pam it was fun working with you, sorry you had to spend so much time watching my groups (you too David).  To Ken Dunphy who had to put up with me sending him extra stuff to look at during a championship and Peg, the true magician making sure everything was in its right place.  To the rest of the USGA staff on site, you all did a wonderful job.
                To Bandon Dunes, I’m just going to name Jeff Simonds although I know he’s the leader of the pack of a whole bunch of well-trained staff that assisted in making the experience great.  I’ll be back there soon enough!
My Assignments
                My assignments did change slightly since the initial post.  I was the referee for the medalists in round 1 of match play.  The medalists won, and I was then asked to step-in to be the referee for the second round as well as the original referee had to cancel. I went around again in the afternoon as an observer with the medalists again, but that time they lost. I finished off the week with the semi-final match between O’Sullivan/Ree and Herr/Walker which ended on the 16th hole. So for the week I walked 36 holes in stroke play (plus 9 holes setup), 14 holes as referee in the round of 32, 18 holes as referee in the round of 16, 15 holes as an observer in the quarter finals and 16 holes as referee in the semi-finals.  All in all 108 holes in 5 days and at Pacific Dunes -  I’d gladly do 108 more.
13th Green during the Quarter-Finals with the camera boom in the back

The Rulings
                I really had very, very few rulings of note. I will discuss three (2 ½ really).
Three Rules for One Sprinkler Head:
On the second hole a player’s ball came to rest on a sprinkler head. The nearest point of relief was clear and she measured the one club-length from there.  She dropped within the one club-length and Rule 24-2 was done.  The ball rolled closer to the hole than the nearest point of relief so Rule 20-2c took over and she re-dropped.  The re-drop rolled closer to the hole and so 20-2c required a place.  When the ball was placed it would not stay at rest, so Rule 20-3d took over and the ball was replaced where it finally came to rest and the ball was properly in play. It felt good running the rules through my head as I was working with the player in this situation.
Collision Course (x3):
                Typically, golf balls colliding is a fairly rare ruling to get.  I had 3 during my 108 holes.  Two of which, occurred in the first four holes of the semi-final match. On the very first hole, Walker’s approach from the fairway one hopped directly onto her partner’s ball that was at rest on the putting green.  It was actually unfortunate because without the collision the side would’ve had two chances at birdie from about 10 feet, and instead had one shot at birdie and a really difficult pitch.  I called the observer who had a good eye on the spot where Herr’s ball was moved from and the ruling was fairly simple.  Rule 18-5 requires the ball that was moved to be replaced.  Rule 19-5 requires the other ball to be played as it lay.
                Three holes later, Herr’s approach was short and at rest below the slope on the 4th putting green when Walker’s pitch failed to reach to the top of the slope and the ball slowly started rolling back down and sure enough collided once again with Herr’s ball.  We had just been through this and their opponent was very near the collision and able to point to the spot.  Moved ball replaced, other ball played from its final spot.  Rule 18-5 and 19-5 tend to trip people up on exams, but in reality the rulings were quite easy and quick. (The third collision was on the final hole of stroke play when Lila Barton’s ball after a pitch collided with a member of the other side’s ball on the putting green. I had the spot and again the replacement was quick and easy).
The Lessons
Pace of Play:
While I didn’t have many rulings I did get to learn a lot about match play pace of play.  All three of the matches I refereed were on the clock at some point in time.  Truth be told, none of the players were particularly slow themselves.  Their routines were normal. What killed their pace was not being ready to play.  I remember watching one side take more than the permitted 40 seconds just trying to decide which partner would play first!  We only run one championship where match play pace of play really comes into effect and we haven’t had any issues that required timing recently so seeing it in action was fabulous (except that it was my group on the clock…) 
The lesson learned was the proper application because of the subjectivity of timing.  The group was informed they had a hole to regain position. When they did not, they were timed. Everything was included in the given 40 seconds – caddie discussion, club decisions, routines, partner discussion.  It didn’t matter, they had 40 seconds to play. The warnings were issued immediately and in most cases the timing worked.  The groups regained position or at least played more quickly (my first match was on the clock from the 7th hole to its conclusion without a warning issued).  One of the most interesting aspects of this process was the four-ball impact.  Even though it is four-ball, individuals are timed and individuals are issued warnings.  This means that two individuals one the same side could both receive a warning.  If, however, only one member of the side receives a second bad time, the side loses the hole.  So a side as a whole might actually get 3 total bad times before losing a hole, but an individual still only gets the one warning before costing the side a hole in the match.
Who’s Away:
                I carry a Gotcha. For luck (thanks JVB I still carry the one you gave me). Unless you’re within several feet of the hole it is generally a waste of time to use the Gotcha. I was complimented on my quick determinations of who was away when asked.  I say this not because I took the job lightly: order of play is important in match play and can play a huge role in a match.  I say this in part because of what you saw above…pace of play is important too.  If I need to pace off to make a call, I will.  If I’m within 5 feet and need the Gotcha, I’ll use it.  But my first call is to stand halfway between the golf balls in question, face the hole and see which ball is farther. I don’t say, “I think you’re away,” or “it looks like you’re away,” I point and say, “That ball is away.” If the player asks for a measurement I’ll give it to them, but it’s usually not necessary.
                This came into play when the TV cameras started rolling.  One reminder we tell players when match play begins is that it is their show, not ours.  We stay out of the way as referees.  We don’t go on the putting green unless asked, we stay only close enough to be reached if needed and we don’t stand in the camera shot whenever possible.  The player is the focus, not the referee.  So if I’m called in to make a determination and the camera is rolling, I want to take only as much time as is necessary to make the proper call and get back out of the show.
Long Drive:
                The final lesson is that 11 hours is a long drive when you’re fighting a cold…
Because, well... Just because

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