This past week, I had the opportunity and privilege of attending one of the many PGA of America and United States Golf Association’s Rules of Golf workshops with my colleague Justine Decock at the St. Louis Marriott West in St. Louis, Missouri.
The PGA/USGA workshop is held over a four day period, containing three full days of seminar instruction accompanied by presentations and a very specific breakdown of each rule of golf, followed by a three-and-a-half-hour 100-question multiple choice exam (50 questions closed book, 50 questions open book).
Each seminar has two instructors representing the USGA and PGA, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had two of the games’ best. Bernie Loehr, Director of Amateur Status and Rules at the USGA, has worked and served on the Joint Rules Committee (JRC), and has officiated numerous U.S. Opens, the PGA Championship, and our own National Open. Accompanying him was Jesse Barge, who is a PGA Master Professional, and the Head Golf Professional at the Links of Kokopelli in Illinois. Jesse has officiated 14 PGA Championships as well as two Masters Tournaments. From their resumes, you can tell that I was in good hands as a ‘first timer’.
Bernie and Jesse made the rules accessible for all levels of experience. Using their own experiences to accompany an explanation of a rule or decision was extremely helpful for someone who has only studied the rules for about a year. Coming away from the seminar, I finally have a grasp on understanding substituted ball, wrong ball and wrong place. For the rest of my rules career, I will never forget the meaning of ‘small object’ under the definition of ‘Equipment’ and when it’s not okay to re-drop – all thanks to Bernie and Jesse.
Justine and I made a great friend by the name of Woody Johnson who was one of the 50 or so participants that attended the workshop. After sparking up a conversation with our new friend and telling him that Justine and I were Canadian, our chat quickly turned from the rules of golf to hockey, and more specifically, the St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins game that was being held at the Scottrade Centre that same Friday night. Woody made a call to his good friend Jerry Scull, who generously opened up their hospitality and treated Justine and I, along with ten or so others, to the game in box-club seats! Thanks again guys!
During the game, Justine and I learned that Jerry’s daughter is actively involved with the ‘Aid Through Trade’ program, which aims to increase equality, fair income, and opportunity for artisans in Nepal. It also promotes awareness on how the actions and support of those who have given to ‘Aid Through Trade’ have impacted and improved the lives of many artisans in Nepal. If you would like to find out more information on ‘Aid Through Trade’ please visit aidthroughtrade.com.
The rest of the trip was great! Justine and I drove twenty minutes to St. Charles so she could show me a few of her old hangout spots while she attended Lindenwood University. The people were extremely friendly in St. Louis and made you feel at home, no matter what you were doing.
The last component of the workshop was writing the exam. Let me be the first to tell you that the three-and-a-half hour time limit to write and complete the questions flies by so quickly. I was pleased with my result on the exam (79 per cent) and with it being my first time at the workshop, I learned a lot from the experience. For those of you just starting your Rules Education careers, the PGA/USGA Rules of Golf Workshop is open to anyone interested in pursuing the Rules and understanding them in more detail – there are no pre-requisites to attend a workshop. Details on workshop locations are usually confirmed in the fall before registration opens in October.
Overall, it was a great experience that I will never forget. I hope to attend another seminar and to see our friends Woody and Jerry in the near future.