In January, there is one staple on the AJGA Operations Department’s schedule. In bold, black ink there are two words that strike excitement, and maybe a little fear, into the hearts of the tournament directors: RULES SCHOOL.
In all, 13 of the 17 AJGA attendees achieved a 92 or higher, raising the number of tournament directors who are Rules Certified to 16. The AJGA staff as a whole boasts 28 staff members who are fully certified.
The ops staff travels to a PGA-USGA Rules of Golf Workshop each year with the hopes of reaching the highest level of certification, which is done by achieving a 92 or better on the exam. Following is the story of two AJGA Tournament Directors, Rules School Veteran Andrew Greenfield and first-year TD Lindsay Dodge.
The first step of preparing for the Rules exam, for AJGA staffers, is to study, study, study….
Andrew Greenfield: I begin preparing for the AJGA In-House Rules School about one month prior to the first class. We started our In-House program November 29, only two days after the conclusion of the Polo Golf Junior Classic. For the first two weeks of December the operations department met each morning from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Lindsay Dodge: As a new hire, I was still finishing up my semester in Kansas while Rules School started on Nov. 29th. While juggling finals and work, I was receiving multiple emails from Andrew Greenfield everyday regarding the Rules of Golf. Overwhelmed by all of this, I took one quiz at a time averaging about a 50% on each of them and trying to figure out exactly how to study for the Rules of Golf.
But of course, along the way, roadblocks will arise, forcing the operations department to find creative ways to prepare…
Greenfield: During the last week of the In-House Rules School, the city of Atlanta was hit with a snow and ice storm that closed AJGA Headquarters for three days. This could have really hurt the operations department’s progress with the rules, but the staff did a great job studying at home, doing my quizzes on their computers and asking questions via e-mail and cell phone. On the last day of the office being closed we were able to have two study sessions at designated. For some the snow storm was a blessing, as the office and road closures left nothing to do, but study the rules.
Dodge: As week one came to an end, I left the office in preparation to spend my weekend in Atlanta looking over the “Blue Pages” in the decisions book and be back on Monday with a fresh start. I was wrong. Our area was hit with the Atlanta Blizzard on Sunday Night and we were snowed in for three days. Good thing I didn’t leave my rules book at my desk… Between snowball fights and sledding in my apartment complex, I was able to study with my roommate. We had a few study sessions over Skype with other members of the Operations Department, and even conference called Andrew once or twice. I can now say Thank You to my three snow days for fully preparing me for the exam.
After a 17-hour drive to San Antonio, the Operations Department was up bright and early to the begin the Rules Workshop…
Greenfield: For the next three days the AJGA staff experienced nothing but the Rules of Golf from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After dinner each evening the Operations Department would meet in my room to discuss key points of the day and ask any questions. This meeting would last around 30 minutes. After our meeting the staff would return to their rooms or other areas of the hotel to study on their own or in smaller groups doing practice questions.
Dodge: The AJGA was the first group of people in the room on the first day of the workshop which meant that we could pick the best seats. I remembered back to my high school days when my teacher’s always taught me to sit in the “T” Zone because it is more conducive to learning. I felt like a nerd as I picked my seat in the very front row in front of the projection screen.
After three days of non-stop Rules of Golf studying, they were ready to take the test. Test-day jitters were bound to make an appearance…
Greenfield: The morning of the test is always nerve-wracking and you just want to get the test over with. Everyone has worked so hard for more than two months and you want that effort to translate into a good score. I know not everyone is going to hit that mark and knowing that is a tough pill to swallow. I wish everyone good luck before the test and give one last reminder to make sure to read each question carefully.
Dodge: The exam started at 8 a.m. and we left our hotel around 6:45 so we could get to the hotel to eat breakfast and have a last minute study session on our own. The nerves starting kicking in as we arrived at the Marriot in San Antonio, where the workshop was being held. I found myself not being able to eat breakfast. The worst part about the exam is that even though I felt prepared, I had no idea what the outcome of the test would be because I had never taken it before.
Unlike some exams, test-takers at the USGA-PGA Rules Examination can get an unofficial score within an hour or so of finishing the test. Keep reading to find out how Greenfield and Dodge scored…
Greenfield: After the test is over, the grading is the hardest part. The instructors put the answer key on the overhead projector and read out the answers (we hand in our scantron answer keys, but mark our answers down on an unofficial sheet so we can self-grade immediately after the test). While some tournament directors do not look at the overhead and just listen to the instructor’s voice, I do not have that patience. I immediately look at the overhead answer key and start going down my sheet. After the closed-book section, I have not missed any questions. I am relieved, but my heart is pumping forcefully in my chest. I look around to see the expressions of the rest of the staff. Everyone looks optimistic after the closed-book portion. For the open-book section, once again the scantron is placed on the overhead and the calling out of the answers resumes. I immediately look at the overhead and grade my test quickly- 100 for the second straight year! Not too bad.
Dodge: I finished the exam with about five minutes left and I could finally breathe again. I thought the worst part was over, but then an overwhelming feeling came over me when I realized I had to grade my own exam. At the time, it seemed like the slowest process. Each answer came out A…as in ALPHA, B…as in Boy. My hand was shaking as I went down the first column and starting getting butterflies when I realized that I was not missing any questions. The second column came and I missed four and before I could think about it, we had graded the closed portion and I scored a 46 out of 50. I couldn’t believe it, it was the best I had done so far between any of the practice tests. After grading the open book portion of the test, I found out that I had only missed five on the entire test which means I scored a 95. I couldn’t believe it and I was so excited that I had passed. All of the long hours of studying the Rules of Golf had paid off!
Greenfield: Once all the answers had been called out, I looked around at the staff. Excitement poured out across our section. Three tournament directors achieved 92 or better for the first time and they were beaming. We now have all seven female tournament directors rules certified, an impressive feat. Two other tournament directors scored 100 for the first time. Whether they achieved the 92 score or not, a sigh of relief comes over everyone. It’s time to relax, celebrate and return to Atlanta. Our rules knowledge will guide us through the upcoming tournament season and we will close the chapter on intense studying, until January 2012 when we begin it all again.