Rules Column: Russ Wing

If you are a rules official, always have the right things

Just as players need equipment to play golf, Rules Officials need equipment to officiate events. So for a change of pace, let’s take a look at some typical Rules Official equipment.

Accompanying this article is a photo of the major items of equipment in my Rules bag. Starting at the upper left corner and proceeding clockwise, let me briefly discuss each item.

As a Rules Official, the Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf are mandatory items. I also have the USGA Rules of Golf app on my iPhone, which includes both the Rules and the Decisions.

Rules Officials always have event-related paperwork (Hard Card, Local Rules, pairings sheet, pace of play worksheet, etc) that needs to be managed and ready for quick reference. I use a clipboard for that purpose, while other Officials use three-ring notebooks.

The stopwatch is used to time ball searches. My stopwatch is also my backup watch for knowing the correct time when monitoring pace of play. The pace of play worksheets that we use tell us the projected finish time for every hole for every group.

The next item is a two-way radio headset. Rules Officials use commercial grade two-way radios, and the headset allows incoming communication to go directly into the Official’s ear without disturbing others. Because different brands of these radios use different plugs, I carry at least two different headsets.

Binoculars are useful for monitoring play from a distance. Rules Officials are always on the lookout for players who might need help with a ball search, a relief procedure, or anything else. I always carry a ball mark repair tool and five long tees in my pocket. The tees are used to help players with relief procedures – e.g., for defining an area where a ball must be dropped. I use long orange tees because they are easy to see.

The long string is used to help determine if a ball is in bounds or out of bounds, or if it is in or out of a water hazard when the water hazard is not painted. The string is pulled tight between the two nearest stakes to define the appropriate line.

The first aid kit is in my bag to help players who might need a band aid for a cut or a blister.

So that’s a quick tour of the major items of equipment in my Rules bag.