Andrew Coltart assists with Rules education in St Andrews

Two-time European Tour winner and 1999 Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart was in St Andrews recently to assist with The R&A’s Referees Panel Training Day at the Old Course Hotel.

Coltart, who has retired from competitive golf after playing as a professional since 1991, was on hand to participate in a number of Rules sessions with a group of 26 R&A Referees. He worked alongside R&A Rules staff to help demonstrate different on-course Rulings and provide his own insight from a player’s perspective.

“It was great fun, further education for me really,” said Coltart.  “The R&A are stewards of the game and know the Rule book from beginning to end.  It was a great opportunity for me to learn, but also a great opportunity for me as a player to put a bit of pressure on the referees to simulate some of the experiences they will come across when they are out there in tournament conditions.”

The session was timed to coincide with the beginning of the competitive golf season, giving the Referees a chance to refresh their Rules knowledge before officiating at R&A Championships and The Open.

Coltart also spent time with the group watching video of past Rulings from a number of Tour events and discussing the outcomes with the Referees.

With a total of 491 starts on the European Tour over two decades, the 44-year-old shared some pointers on the best way to approach a player in need of a Ruling.

“Body language is huge and choice of vocabulary is important convey confidence and 100 per cent knowledge in the Ruling that you’re giving. Leave the player in no doubt that they are certain of the Rule.

“To a degree, the referee is entering the player’s office so you need to respect that when you are called to a situation.  Then once the ruling is done, leave the office as soon as possible so the player can get on with his work.

“It’s very difficult, and can be a very stressful situation. Nonetheless you’ve got to get on with it and respect one another and recognize that the job has to be done,” he added.

Coltart, originally from Dumfries, won the Scottish Boys Amateur and Scottish Amateur Strokeplay before embarking on a professional career that saw him win the European Tour’s Qatar Masters in 1998 and the 2001 Great North Open. In 1995, he was part of the Scottish side that won the Alfred Dunhill Cup, and he represented Europe in the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline.

He officially retired from competitive golf in 2012 but hasn’t strayed far from the game. He is currently works with corporate golf experience company TPEGS, and as a golf analyst for Sky Sports. He has also provided coverage for Radio 5 Live at The Open and the Ryder Cup.

“I get to work with a great bunch of people as part of a team environment at Sky Sports, which wasn’t the case when I was playing since you’re out there as an individual. When I was getting to the end of my playing career it was pretty frustrating with lots of downs and not very many ups, so I’m delighted to have put that to bed and moved onto other things.

“I miss the camaraderie of the Tour but I don’t miss attempting to compete and not doing a very good job of it. So I’m quite happy that bit’s past me.”

Asked if he would consider becoming a Referee on Tour himself, Coltart said he’d prefer to share his insights from a player’s perspective.

“That’s far too difficult a job,” he laughed.  “I’m quite happy in my current capacities outside of playing. It was good to participate here because everything was done in a friendly atmosphere.

“It’s important to demonstrate that we’re all in this together, the players, the Referees, and the people that make the Rules. It can sometimes seem that the players are on one side and the Rules Officials are on the other. Bringing the groups together is good for everyone.”