Ask the Referee: David Rickman

In the first of a short series with some of the top referees and officials in the game David Rickman, The R&A’s Executive Director – Rules and Equipment Standards, takes the hot seat to answer some questions.

In the May edition of the Rules Newsletter, readers were invited to send in their questions to David about the Rules and refereeing. In the next edition it will be the turn of John Paramor (Chief Referee on the European Tour) to share his knowledge and experience.

However, in this edition we put David in the “hot seat”…

Editor: So David, the first question to cover is, as a Rules official how do you avoid not becoming complacent about Rules knowledge and, in addition to Conditions, Local Rules and familiarising yourself with the course or your zone, what should you review before partaking in any Championship event? Christine Beauchamp, Puerto Rico

David: In anticipation of an event I will carefully survey the golf course, by walking or driving around it a number of times. I will assess the type of situation that can arise, for example if there’s a lot of water hazards I will pay particular attention to not just the water hazard Rule but Decisions under Rules 13-4 and 26 as well. So I think the questioner is right to be wary of complacency and all that I can suggest is to prepare thoroughly and continually test yourself during the event itself.

Editor: Ok. Second question, why do professional golfers constantly request rulings when the answers should be known by all golfers competing in competitions? Terry Devonald

David: I think there’s an element of an “insurance policy” being taken out, if I can put it that way. As soon as the professional golfer gets a ruling from a referee, even if that advice proves to be incorrect (which would be very rare) the player would not be penalised.

Editor: I’m 12 years old and studying to be a Level 3 official and will take the test soon. I was wondering if you have any tips you have collected over the years that would help me on the golf course and also if you had any advice for a young official trying to get into this as a profession? Timmy Yorke, Pei, Canada

David: I’m very impressed that you’re getting into this detail at such an early age. I was barely playing golf by the time I was 12 let alone knowing anything about the Rules! I think all I would suggest is to continue to work hard and take as many opportunities as you can to help at events. As the years pass you will have opportunities to referee at Club level perhaps, then at district or state level and t