It was a very busy day at Fountaingrove GC Monday for the CGA Amateur Championship Qualifier. It was also a treat for me, as I haven’t been on the course since my wedding day in 1985, when it was just a year or two old.
My assignment was to spot on the 14th hole. Fourteen is a long par five with trouble all around: Out of bounds right, and bushes, trees, long grass, and rattlesnake country all the way down the left side. As it would be a couple of hours before the first groups got there, I was able to take a close look at the course, and follow a few groups through the front side. After looking at the course set up, and considering the stiffening breeze, it looked like it would be a buy day for the Tournament Officials.
I arrived at 14 while the third group was in the 13th fairway—the first two groups were twosomes and had long since flown through. Before long I was searching for balls in the rough on a regular basis. In fact, three TO’s were occupied at one time on the hole. The TO timing at the 13th green also monitored the 14th tee, so I could radio him when players should hit a provisional. The TO who was roving the back nine spent much of the time with me, and there were at least three times when we were both occupied on different parts of the hole with ball searches, drop rulings, etc.
The most interesting moment, and a good one in the education of a rules official, came after a player hit a ball way left into the jungle, hit his provisional OB right, then a second provisional way left. I radioed back that he should hit another, but he was already on his way down the fairway, so it would be find one or say goodbye. After a five-minute search, we had found a lot of balls (I found fifteen myself), but not either of his. I told him time was up, and he said he’d just walk the hole in, and asked if he could continue the round even after WD’ing.
I told him I wasn’t sure (I didn’t think so), and went to consult with the rover. We radioed the rules committee, and the answer was no—because it would raise the possibility that a non-competitor could do something that gave aid to a competitor. I drove up to the green to inform him that he had to leave the course. After signing for the holes he had marked for one of his fellow competitors and re-distributing the score cards, we drove in. It was actually kind of odd. We got some funny looks from the five or six groups we passed. I felt like I’d arrested someone—and the ride was the golf version of a “perp walk!”
I delivered the player to scoring where he explained the circumstances to the rules committee, then went back to follow the final groups in.
I appreciated that a certified rules official gave me, barely past my rookie season, the chance to handle a difficult situation on my own, and then thank me over the radio for doing so. The TO’s are truly a team, and the support is tremendous.