The R&A, golf’s world governance and development body and organiser of The Open Championship, will put rules officials from thirty countries* to the test this week on golf course features purpose built for the occasion in a hotel ballroom. Greenkeepers from the St Andrews Bay Golf Resort & Spa have brought a green, a bunker and a water hazard indoors so international referees school delegates can be coached in comfort by The R&A’s rules experts.
Over eighty men and women, nominated from the 127 golf playing nations affiliated to The R&A, are attending this year’s residential school in St Andrews, travelling from countries as far flung as Pakistan and Puerto Rico, China and Canada. The R&A sets an examination for referees during the course and this, the fourteenth referees school, will see the 1000th candidate sit the test in St Andrews. Since 1990 over 5000 referees have attended R&A run schools on the rules of golf around the world.
Commenting on the school’s move indoors R&A Director of Rules and Equipment Standards David Rickman said, “This is the best time to hold this international school and we can‘t let the weather disrupt our programme. Typically delegates have travelled thousands of miles to come to St Andrews and we want to make full use of our three days together. We are delighted that so many people have come so far for the school and this must be good news for the game, which needs refereeing to be consistent and of a high standard throughout the world.”
The programme for the school involves lectures, group discussions on televised rules incidents; practical demonstrations and individual performance appraisal on role-play rulings.
Greenkeepers took a week to create an indoor simulation of various golf course features in the ballroom of the St Andrews Bay Hotel, which now contains a bunker, a putting green, a water hazard, ground under repair and areas of casual water. Next month The R&A will conduct similar training events on the rules for referees in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador.
In October 2003 The R&A started the worldwide distribution of four million copies of the most revised edition of the Rules of Golf for twenty years. Sponsored by Rolex, the 2004 Rules of Golf is available free of charge from golf clubs or from The R&A by visiting www.randa.org.
*Countries sending referees to the 2004 international referees school in St Andrews include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, The Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Germany, Chinese Taipei, Ireland, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Wales.