Jan 12, 2024

Renowned Rules Expert David Staebler joins GAP Staff

GAP is adding renowned rules expert David Staebler to its staff to lead its Rules of Golf Education in a newly-created position.

Staebler has been at the forefront of Rules of Golf Education since joining the USGA in 2007. He is the primary author of the PGA/USGA Rules of Golf workshop presentations. He’s taught the workshops since 2008. He retired from the USGA in August 2023.

He is a leading presenter for Rules of Golf Seminars offered by GAP. Staebler helps the organization’s volunteers, rules officials and staff better learn and understand the Rules of Golf.

“We are excited to add David to our team,” GAP Executive Director Mark Peterson said. “He has been a lifelong GAP member, skilled tournament player, volunteer and rules official. We welcome his rules expertise and educational values as we elevate our staff skill set, volunteer training processes and advance future golf leaders through our Boatwright Internship Program.”

Staebler’s foray into rules and officiating began in 1988 when he was competing in the now defunct U.S. Amateur Public Links. Staebler played in a total of three USGA championships. He competed in two U.S. Mid-Amateurs (1992, 1995).

“I always looked at golf-course marking and where hole locations were,” Staebler, 70, of Flourtown, Pa., said. “That’s how I got interested in officiating. I saw all of the USGA officials and wondered how I could get one of those armbands and hats.”

From that point forward, he used Rules of Golf Workshops to mold his knowledge. He dedicated himself to gaining a complete understanding of the rules. In his first attempt taking the Rules of Golf Exam, he scored 98 out of 100.  

“My test results seemed to be good and I understood the Rules,” Staebler said. “Through that result, I got the attention of the USGA. By the time the mid-1990s came around I was more interested in officiating than I was in playing golf. I was devoting the time I used for competitive golf to officiating. I devoted a lot of time to learning the rules. I wanted to give back.”

Staebler’s GAP journey began in 1989 with a trip to the Philadelphia Amateur Final in his first appearance at Wilmington Country Club (South). He lost 2&1 in the Final to Charles Dowds, III of North Hills Country Club.

After that run to the Philadelphia Amateur Final, Staebler gave GAP Executive Director Jim Sykes and GAP Tournament Director Fred Christman a call and offered to volunteer. 

“I think giving back to golf is the right thing to do,” Staebler, a three-time Rolling Green men’s champion, said. “When I play in events there are people who are helping the players out and making it possible for them to play well. As I look at golf, it has given me a lot more than I have given through volunteering or teaching. That’s something about the nature of golf. It has allowed me to have friends and acquaintances that I would have no business knowing. Being around those captains of industry has been awesome. I still feel like I owe golf.”

Staebler officiated each of the USGA’s Championships including the Public Links. The only one he hasn’t is the newly-created U.S. Adaptive Open. He officiated the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup as well. GAP Staff, volunteers and members will have access to Rules Education on a level no other association has.

“It comes down to how we can make the staff and the core volunteers better,” Staebler said. “It is all about improvement. There is no shortage of thirst for information and knowledge. GAP is my home Allied Golf Association. It is amazing the amount of growth GAP has had since I started playing and volunteering with the Association. I look forward to helping GAP improve the knowledge of the Rules across all aspects of the Association.”

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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