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The Ruling Class
John Garrity
June 23, 1997
Working the Open is the ultimate assignment for golf's rules gurus
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June 23, 1997

The Ruling Class

Working the Open is the ultimate assignment for golf's rules gurus

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"I was stunned," says Galyean. "It was like being at an Islanders game."

To keep stress levels manageable, officials constantly review the 145-page Rules of Golf and the more compelling, 600-page Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Really tricky stuff, like the virtual TIO that tripped up Holland, goes to the 18-member rules committee for interpretation and revision. On the Wednesday afternoon before this year's Open, Holland summoned his officials to an outdoor TIO seminar conducted by Rules of Golf manager Jeff Hall and women's competitions director Kendra Graham. Using real golf clubs, real balls and real tents, the officials practiced those situations that produce real headaches.

The preparation pays off: Congressional produces nothing that stumps the experts. Sunday's final round is almost placid, ruleswise. Maggert gets relief from a grandstand on the 16th but gains no real advantage and makes bogey. Tom Lehman, a stroke off the lead in the 17th fairway, hooks his approach into the water and has to take a drop as his fortunes droop. The most intriguing rules skirmish involves Clarence Rose, who pitches across the 6th green into a small pond. Facing three choices—stroke and distance, playing from the bank of the pond opposite where the ball went in or playing from a designated drop area calling for a short water carry—Rose chooses the drop area. He then plops another ball in the think and goes on to make a 10. "I thought the stroke and distance option gave him a safer shot," says Dudley, the walking official, "but it's not our role to give out advice."

If the rules officials regret the lack of fireworks, they keep it to themselves. On Friday one of the rovers, John Paramor, the director of operations and chief referee on the European tour, looks contemplative as he smokes a cigarette in a cart by the 8th fairway. "Colin Montgomerie's group was just barely out of position when they went through here," he says. "But there was a backup on 9, so I stopped timing them. We're not going to race anyone into a traffic jam."

Not that Paramor would hesitate to light a fire under Montgomerie or any other star. Three years ago. in the Volvo Masters, Paramor was the official on the scene when Seve Ballesteros came to the 72nd hole tied for the lead. He drove under a tree and found his ball in front of a large hole, which he thought entitled him to relief under Rule 25-1a, "Interference by...a hole, cast or runway made by a burrowing animal."

"I looked at it a considerable amount of time," Paramor recalls, "but I had to rule that it didn't look like the hole was made by an animal." Unhappy with the decision, Ballesteros played his ball as it lay, made bogey and coughed up a hundred thousand dollars to Bernhard Langer, the leader in the clubhouse.

"I think he's forgiven me now," says Paramor, mixing a smile with a grimace.

Oh, yes. Our Rules Quiz!

When we last saw Steve Elkington, he was in a bunker at the 4th, raking his footprints before hitting his shot. He turns in his scorecard after Thursday's round to a welcoming committee of Meeks and USGA vice president Buzz Taylor. Was Elkington peeved?

"He was a little perturbed that we would question his integrity," Meeks says, "but he handled it well."

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