The Rules of Golf definition:
A referee is one who is appointed by the Committee to accompany players to decide questions of fact and to apply the Rules of Golf. He or she must act on any breach of a Rule that he or she observes or is reported to him or her.

Spirit of officiating

Participants in an event are keenly conscious of the spirit in which it is conducted. There is no more certain way to hurt the reputation of a tournament than by lackluster management. It may be difficult and unpleasant to be precise in enforcement of Rules, but it is a rare golfer who does not prefer to compete in a well-run event. Authority should be exercised for the sole purpose of helping to ensure that an event will be fairly played under sporting conditions.

Officials should remember that, as members of the Committee, their primary role is to lend assistance and to offer counsel so as to help contestants avoid unnecessary penalties and to obtain relief when entitled under the Rules. Officials are cautioned not to use their position simply to watch play; this is distracting and quickly recognized by the players and fellow officials.

The two greatest sources of officiating error are as follows: “Fear of Embarrassment,” which does not allow an Official to seek outside help when he or she is legitimately uncertain as to how to handle a situation; “Time Pressure,” which an Official feels in the mistaken belief that he or she is expected to make a Rules decision instantaneously and without the use of backup material.

Officiating guidelines

“Be firm and positive and take plenty of time.”

P.J. Boatwright
  • Know the Rule involved.
  • Resolve questions of fact.
  • If in doubt, get help.
  • Be kind and non-confrontational.
  • Try not to let things drag out.

When to tell players of a violation

  • Intervene immediately to prevent a violation.
  • Intervene immediately to stop a violation from getting worse.
  • If a violation can’t get worse inform the player before the next stroke.

Day of event

  • Review GAP Hard Card for conditions and policies.
  • Review notices emailed prior to tournament.
  • Be familiar with venue, anticipated conditions, format and Rules of Golf.
  • Please come prepared. Bring with you appropriate clothing/umbrella for the day.
  • Check in with Official in Charge/GAP staff member in scoring area upon arrival. Pick up prepared materials and radio.
  • Review Local Rules established for the day and ask questions if any.
  • Official in Charge/GAP staff member will direct you to cover either the front nine or the back nine.

Setting tees

  • GAP staff will either provide yardages to reference or will have painted marks on the tees.
  • Be sure to move all other club tee markers off to the side or in an inconspicuous area (the only tee markers on the course should be GAP tee markers during GAP events).
  • Make sure tee markers are pointing toward the hitting area and that GAP logos are facing the teeing ground.
  • Tee markers should not be positioned any wider than 5-7 paces.
  • Position hole signs within a yard of the tee markers so that players won’t accidentally get between a marker and the sign rather than the two markers and facing the direction players will be approaching.
  • Give thought to the positioning. Sometimes GAP staff will have picked a location based on prime weather conditions, and conditions have changed. Sometimes the location may have been picked based on yardage on a scorecard, and GAP staff didn’t know there were tree branches interfering with play. If there is any doubt to the situation, call the Official in Charge to discuss. Players will need to be informed of the change.
  • Make sure divot boxes, ball washers, etc. are positioned properly if possible.
  • If tee markers are already positioned by the grounds crew, then it will be necessary to check their work. Walk onto each teeing ground and make sure there are no mistakes. Go through the above steps.

Checking the course

  • Is out of bounds properly defined? Be sure you can see from one white stake to the next.
  • Are penalty areas properly marked? Stakes should be visible, and there should be a line on the ground connecting all the stakes.
  • Is there ground under repair that needs to be marked? If there is something that needs to be marked, then coordinate with the Official in Charge.
  • Are there any maintenance issues? Look for leaking sprinkler heads, bunkers that aren’t raked, and ensure that rakes are outside of the bunkers.
  • Locate any ball drop areas to ensure they have been painted and that you are aware of their location for future rulings.
  • Make sure that any mowing/golf course preparation will not interfere with play (e.g. is the staff far enough ahead?). Coordinate this information with the Official in Charge.
  • Make mental notes as you drive the front nine/back nine as to where there might be possible issues (blind penalty areas, blind tee shots, blind out of bounds, possible pace of play problems). Pick the best spot to position yourself.
  • Coordinate this with the Official in Charge when you have completed your review.

The Putting Green

  • Position the reflector on top of the flagstick upon arrival. If possible, some flagsticks do not fit GAP reflectors, and some courses use their own.
  • Check the exact hole location to ensure it the same as what GAP issued.
  • Roll a couple balls to each hole location from several directions to see if the hole location is puttable.
  • Make sure there is zero damage to the hole/around the hole and that liner is set at least 1 inch below the lip of the hole, if possible.

Pace of play

  • Know and understand the Pace of Play Policy.
  • Keep good notes when the starters indicate that their tee is delayed.
  • On-course Committee should be on the lookout for slow play.
  • The most obvious indication of slow play is when there is more than one hole open ahead of a playing group.
  • Before making contact with a group that appears to be playing slowly, advise the Official in Charge of the situation. Determine whether the group in question started play on time and check its elapsed time.
  • GAP is obligated to actively work on resolving pace of play issues. Take a proactive approach to solve the problem. If GAP staff/volunteers wait and take a reactive approach, then the battle is already lost.


  • Provided as a courtesy by the host club.
  • Follow cart rules for the day, unless there is an emergency.
  • Do not drive in restricted areas.
  • Do not transport spectators or contestants.
  • Limit movement to a bare minimum.
  • Do not roam from your assigned holes.
  • Do not leave cart keys in an unattended cart.
  • Fasten your Committee sign to the front of the cart.


  • Use the earphones.
  • Unnecessary comments should be withheld. Please be aware that the club staff has a radio.
  • Do not leave the radio in an unattended cart.
  • Radio transmission should be kept as brief as possible.
  • Rules questions should be discussed with the Official in Charge.
  • When inclement weather threatens, keep off the air. If you can help the situation, (e.g. if you see lightning), then inform the Official in Charge and await directions. The Official in Charge must have access to the radio frequency during weather situations.
  • Report radios that are not in good working order to GAP staff.


  • Arrangements have been made with the host club to attribute all purchases to GAP.
  • The halfway house is accessible when needed.
  • Lunch shifts begin at approximately 11 a.m.
  • Please go to lunch individually and not as a team. GAP operates with limited resources during the time that lunch begins (i.e. the second wave of starting times is set to begin; the golf course is full of contestants).
  • Officials who arrive first will be given the first opportunity for lunch.
  • Please limit your lunch break to 30 to 45 minutes. Remember there is another official waiting to eat.
  • Coordinate with Official in Charge for golf course coverage while you are gone.

When play is finishing, coordinate with GAP staff on picking up GAP equipment (i.e. tee markers, hole signs, reflectors, stakes). In regards to cellphones, GAP understands that there will be times in which you will need to make a call or to return a call. Please coordinate with the Official in Charge if this occurs.


  • The GAP Uniform consists of khaki pants or shorts and a tournament shirt with GAP Logo.
  • You should bring appropriate clothing to cope with harsh weather (hat, sunglasses, umbrella, etc.). Only hats with a GAP Logo may be worn. GAP volunteer hats are available at the Golf Office and are free of charge to volunteers.