Inaugural R&A and IGU joint Rules school
Indian golf, much like the country’s economy, has experience unprecedented growth over recent years. This vast country now has around 300 courses and 125,000 registered golfers. However, we have only seen the beginning of the sport’s growth with the Indian Golf Union (IGU) setting an ambitious target of increasing the number of golfers to half a million over the next five years.
This expected increase, and with the IGU already running 37 events a year, clearly comes with a requirement to boost the number of qualified referees. That is why last year The R&A and the IGU established a joint Rules programme. It consists of a Level 1 Introductory School conducted by the IGU, a Level 2 Rules School jointly conducted by The R&A and the IGU with the top two performers at the Level 2 School being selected by the IGU to attend next month’s St Andrews Level 3 Tournament Administrators and Referees School.
To qualify for the Level 2 School, participants needed to score 70 per cent in the Level 1 exam. As it was, many achieved this and the top 60 were taken for the Level 2 School.
The Level 2 School, held at the National Golf Academy of India in Chandigarh, consisted of presentations on the principal Rules, review of televised incidents and an on course practical demonstration. This was followed by a written exam with those who achieved 75 per cent moving on to take a practical refereeing test with the others being given on course guidance on refereeing.
Ultimately, 11 people qualified with an "A" qualification having passed the practical exam. Neha Majithia and Suresh Ganesan were the two selected for the St Andrews school.
Instructors from The R&A included Chris Hilton, Chairman of the Rules of Golf Committee, and Director of Rules, Grant Moir. Representing the IGU were Shalini Malik, Hari Achanta, Jayan Santagopal and Ishwar Achanta, Chairman of the IGU Rules Committee, R&A Rules of Golf Committee advisory member and driving force behind the programme.
The School coincided with the All India Amateur Championship at the adjoining Chandigarh Golf Club, which was being followed by the IGU's Annual Awards ceremony hosted by Rolex. This meant that some of the country’s top amateurs attended the practical sessions.
Chandigarh is also the home of Jeev Milkha Singh, the first Indian member of the European Tour, who was practising at the facility alongside other pros, amateurs and juniors. Jeev popped into the school to pass on his encouragement to attendees and confirmed how important the Rules are to the game. He relayed a story from last year's Avanta Indian Masters when a failure to read the Local Rules cost him two strokes.
Among those taking part in the course were Aditi Ashok, India's 13 year-old women’s amateur champion, and IGU referee panel member Nalini Singh, who is currently playing on the Women’s Indian Golf Tour (WGAI).
Singh explained: “This was my second R&A Referee School and it was an eclectic mix of young and old of both genders from across the country.
“One of the things that I enjoyed most about the class was the simplicity and clarity with which the Rules and revisions of Rules were explained both in classroom sessions and in the practical demonstrations.
“I believe that good or better refereeing comes with experience on course and I look forward to doing the Referee school again in 2013 and hope that my time management on the exam will be better than this year!”