"#RulesSchool is Now in Session" is a series where you’ll get an opportunity to check out some of the things going on here at the AJGA as our Operations staff prepares for the PGA/USGA Workshop on the Rules of Golf and the USGA Rules Exam. In addition to a “behind the scenes” look at our preparations, you will also have the opportunity to reach out to us via social media to ask your own questions about the Rules of Golf.
Last week, in our first guest #RulesSchool post, we heard from AJGA Senior Tournament Director Chris White. Chris told us a little bit about what it's like to be at the AJGA studying for the USGA Rules Exam. Today, Chris passes along some valuable advice to those who might be getting ready to take the USGA Rules Exam for the first time. Even if, like me, you're not currently studying for the exam, reading Chris' blog gives me even more respect for my co-workers who are working really hard to try and ace this test. Enjoy!
This year at the PGA/USGA Rules Workshop I’m sure there will be countless “first-timers” taking the test (including almost 10 from the AJGA). As the assistant professor to our in-house rules school, I have a few words of wisdom to pass along. Hopefully these will help prevent an overwhelming feeling that is very easy to come by:
Prepare, prepare, prepare
- If you come into the workshop and open a brand new, never-been-opened Rules Book – that is a perfect recipe for that overwhelming feeling I mentioned in the first paragraph. The workshop is very thorough and intense, but if you don’t have a “foundation” already laid – a general understand so to speak – then 80% of what is taught is going to fly right over your head.
- Blue pages and definitions. When you look at the Decisions Book, it can be somewhat intimidating; it a large book with endless decisions, exceptions and very minute details. Just starting out, you want to walk before you run, and that is where the “blue pages” come into play. The “blue pages” are the actual Rules of Golf, and you should learn those inside and out the best you can. Further, the definitions go hand-in-hand with that. If you can get a good understanding of those two areas before the workshop, you’re setting yourself up for success.
During the workshop
- Listen and absorb as much as you can, but don’t go in thinking you are going to understand/learn/even hear everything that the instructors say. They cover a lot and answer a lot of questions, so don’t worry if you miss a point here or there. Sometimes it even helps if you cancel out the questions – sometimes they might confuse you more.
- Don’t be the “what-if” guy: During the workshop, after each rule there is an opportunity to ask questions in case individuals need further clarification. However, this is not a time to come up with the most crazy, hypothetical ruling you’ve ever heard of/encountered/or can think of. Trust me when I say others in the class aren’t going to be excited. Referring to my preparation segment, don’t worry about the “what-ifs” – focus on the blue pages.
During the test
- Prioritize your time. Know ahead of time that the open book is going to take you longer than the closed book portion of the test, for the simple reason that looking up questions takes time. Thus have a game plan of how long you MUST have the closed book done by and train yourself to be able to meet that time, so that you don’t feel rushed.
- Don’t get hung up on any single question. The longer you spend on one question the less time you have for the rest of the questions. Also, the longer you spend on it, the more it is going to linger in your mind, even after you move to the next question and beyond – which is bad. Each and every question needs your full attention. If you aren’t sure of an answer and can’t figure it out, put your best guess and then mark it to come back and look at once you’ve finished the rest of the questions.
The PGA/USGA Workshop on the Rules of Golf is just around the corner, and here on the AJGA Blog we still have lots of great #RulesSchool content coming your way. Next week, we'll have a final post from Chris White as he takes us through the last full week of studying, and we'll also hear from Blair Thompson, a first-year AJGA Tournament Coordinator. As always, we'd love to have your feedback via Twitter, so don't be afraid to reach out to @AJGADittmer and I with any questions or comments you might have.
-Alexis Witman (@AJGAWitman)