Golf Australia

BLOG: Seven rulings on day one


I love a challenge, but I certainly wasn’t expecting seven rulings on my first day at my first National Open! That’s right - it was a decorative beginning to my refereeing journey when I attended my first men’s Emirates Australian Open late last year at the renowned The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

Out of the blocks quickly, I almost had a ruling from the first tee shot of the day with a TIO lingering close to a player’s line of play. On the second (11th – par 3) I had my first, an unplayable ball. Opting to take option ‘b’ it placed us back onto the 12th tee box. With further optional relief from the tee box (TIO) not desirable, the player sensibly decided to flick his 60-degree lob wedge over the tee signage onto the green to a credible two and a half metres. Despite his best efforts, he would settle for a double bogey 5.

Onto hole 2, the 11th in our case, and golf proved again to be an imaginative game! This time the same player wedged his tee shot into a web of TV cables. Along came ruling #2: movable obstruction.

Having not been granted the opportunity to ease into the occasion with a few warm up holes, my nerves had to settle quickly. I might as well have been playing the Australian Open I was that nervous on the first tee! But two rulings in the first three holes threw me into the deep end and I swiftly transitioned into the world of refereeing.

The adventure continued, with the real highlight awaiting me on the 12th (3rd – par 4). Of the seven rulings, three came on this very hole: ball at rest moved, lateral water hazard and an obstruction. My fellow colleague Doug O’Keeffe, located in the preceding group, enjoyed watching me dart from one ruling to another! Catching me on the 13th tee for a giggle and to ask me, “what on earth happened there”!

Reflecting on this journey, alongside with my experience as a player, I believe the key to refereeing is treating the player as a friend and communicating in a relaxed, calm and humble manner. A player’s focus should never waiver from their objective to get the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes possible, so referees are simply there to assist and provide the best possible support when required. Communication is the key.

To conclude, experience #1 was packed full of learnings and I now look forward to my next refereeing odyssey, the 2018 Women’s Australian Open. I hear the women hit a little straighter? At least, let’s hope so! Or I fear I will be known in the player’s locker rooms as “Charlton’s Curse”!

A couple of Q&As for Jo:

How did you get started in golf?

I started playing golf when I was 16 when a PE teacher at school invited me to play in a 9 hole event at Metropolitan Golf Club. Once my grandpa heard light of this, he was delighted and organised lessons with Brian Twite, the former Metropolitan pro and a renowned coach.

Who had the most influence on your game growing up and how?

Cath Livy (PE teacher) and Tony Charlton (grandfather). 

Cath Livy (or Miss Livy as I called her) was so determined to get involved in the game that following our game at Metropolitan GC she donated me my first set of clubs and then played with me for each of my handicap cards.

My grandfather was responsible for creating great passion and knowledge of sport within our family. His fondest memories as a sports commentator and event coordinator were his golfing days, so I was fortunate enough to have learnt of and experienced some amazing golfing moments with my grandfather, one of which included playing 18 holes with Peter Thomson at Capital Golf Club.

Editor’s Notes:

This article makes me feel very ancient as I worked very closely with the late Tony Charlton, Jo’s grandfather, on numerous Victorian and Australian Opens in the 1970s and 80s in his capacity of tournament promoter and director. He was highly regarded for his innovation at the time, introducing entertainment to golf events via marquee players such as Trevino, Nicklaus and Palmer, grandstands, marching bands, celebrity guests and the like. He set the standard for the staging of Australian golf events as we know them today.

Tony was better known as a pre-eminent Melbourne sports broadcaster who elegantly covered many sports for radio and television, including Australian Rules, tennis, Olympic and Commonwealth Games over a period spanning 50 years. For more than 25 years, Tony was MC for Anzac Day ceremonies at the Shrine of Remembrance. He received numerous honours including Order of Australia and membership of the AFL Hall of Fame.

He was a very handy golfer and no doubt his love of the game has been passed onto his granddaughter. Before joining the GV staff, Jo had a very fine record in amateur golf finishing runner-up in the 2010 Victorian Amateur Championship, captaining the Victorian women’s state team in 2012 to 2014, and finishing runner up in the Women's British Amateur in 2015.

By Jo Charlton – Golf Victoria’s Regional Development Officer (Mornington Peninsula)

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