Rules School Diary: 24 January 2010 Bogotá, Colombia

By Kevin Barker:Assistant Director - Rules of Golf

Two Schools down, one to go.

Our first ever Rules School in Colombia finished yesterday. Feeling a bit tired.

In the course of a year we conduct an average of six Rules and Referees Schools around the world and it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job with The R&A. They are a great opportunity to visit new places and meet new people, try the local food and drink, play the odd game of golf and learn more about golf in different places and to teach the principles of the game and officiating.

The venue was Lagartos Country Club - two golf courses, tennis, squash, swimming pool, restaurants. Lovely - if only there had been time to sit by the pool.

It was quite different to the Costa Rican School. We had approximately 60 delegates and many of them were very knowledgeable and experienced Rules officials already - a real credit to the Colombian Golf Federation and Pedro Cárdenas, who is responsible for the Federation's officials. As they were more experienced, the questions were noticeably tougher and there was a greater interest in refereeing, not just in knowing the Rules.

The final afternoon of our Rules Schools - after the delegates had recovered from the pleasure of sitting the Rules of Golf Examination - focuses on refereeing and what it takes to be a good Rules official. We give some tips on refereeing, discuss good and bad practices, and, in a role-play session, each delegate is given the chance to act as an official with The R&A's instructors acting as the players (mostly well-behaved, but not always!). Unfortunately the first rain to fall in many weeks in Bogotá meant that we had to curtail the role-play session and concentrate on additional video footage of referees at work.

Aside from conducting the School, we had an opportunity to learn about golf in Colombia, what the Federation was doing to grow the game and how The R&A could help. We had a very informative visit to the Federation's driving range and pitch-and-putt facility in the centre of Bogotá. It was a hive of activity, full of people hitting balls and practising. It was absolutely great to see children as young as five years old being given tuition as part of the Federation's initiative to develop golf. They were having such fun. A future Open Champion from within the ranks?