Since the new Rules of Golf came into effect on 1 January 2019, most of the countries in the Asia-Pacific have been actively delivering The R&A’s Rules Education Programmes throughout the region. However, it is a challenge for some of the more “developing” countries in golf to do the same, due to limited resources.
Over the last few years, I’ve been working closely with national governing bodies from countries that need assistance in holding Rules Seminars, and as a result, I can now see those countries becoming more self-sufficient in delivering Rules Seminars nationwide, sending new Rules people to the Level 3 Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar (TARS) and furthermore, sending referees to work at international tournaments.
The National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP) was the first to ask me for some help in holding a Rules Seminar on the new Rules of Golf. Surprisingly, the association had not held a Rules Seminar for five years and needed some assistance in encouraging instructors to take up the mantle again.
I knew that NGAP had qualified instructors and was more than capable of holding quality Seminars, but it seemed like the association needed some practical guidance on the logistics and how to prepare and deliver the programme. Working closely with NGAP and a strong team of instructors, including two referees from the Philippines, we were able to deliver a successful first Level 1 Rules Seminar on the new Rules with 85 delegates attending the Seminar. While 74% of the delegates passed the Level 1 Exam, we agreed to work on a Level 2 Rules Seminar together, but only once the NGAP had held a few more Level 1 Rules Seminars independently.
It did not take long to hear back from the association asking for a date for the Level 2 Seminar, and just a few months later, 41 delegates from all over the country were ready for the next stage. There were some good results with 73% of the delegates passing the Level 2 Exam. The top five delegates who achieved above 90% in the Level 2 Exam were then sent to the Level 3 TARS in Vietnam, which was held later in the year, providing five new instructors and referees for the NGAP.
In between the two Seminars in the Philippines, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Sri Lanka Golf (SLG) on another Level 2 Rules Seminar. Unlike the Philippines, SLG did not have a Rules Committee in place and have not been able to hold Rules Seminars in the past due to the lack of instructors and resources.
For SLG, educating golfers that could potentially become a part of the Rules Committee and driving Rules education amongst golfers was a priority in developing the game in Sri Lanka. As it was, there were 21 delegates willing to attend the Level 2 Rules Seminar after taking the online Rules Academy from the R&A website including the Level 1 Exam.
The Seminar in Sri Lanka was another great success with 77% of the delegates passing the Level 2 Exam, improving Rules knowledge greatly. Three delegates were also sent to the Level 3 TARS in Vietnam. The good news was that this support in running the Seminar also resulted in SLG being able to establish a Rules Committee to help in the development of golf for the first time ever in its 73 year history!
I am now looking at holding another Level 2 Rules Seminar in Bangladesh, and hopefully will be able to carry on helping with more seminars for those countries where The R&A’s assistance is needed to get a Rules programme up and running.
During the Level 3 TARS in Vietnam, I was able to meet a good number of referees that to date have not had a chance to work at an international tournament, as most of those attending the Seminar were still building up their experience. Considering the great performance they showed at the Seminar and their experience from local tournaments, we have now invited five delegates who attended TARS in Vietnam to one of The R&A’s major amateur championships, the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific, which will be held in Pattaya, Thailand this October. They will be able to gain valuable experience and practical skills from working in the field with other international referees and take this experience home to implement at national and regional events.
We will continue in developing new educators and referees from our Rules Education Programmes and will always be open to those countries that need assistance in taking their first steps.
For those national governing bodies in Asia-Pacific that require assistance on holding Rules Seminars, please feel free to contact me via email at JinWooKim@randa.org.