Challenging The Committee In A Golf Tournament

Have you ever played in a competition where you believe that the Committee’s decision was not best for overall event? I have played in two events where I challenged the Committee and won both times. Both challenges were based in the rules and what was best for the field. In both instances, I thought that speaking up was best for the overall integrity of the event and to ensure that the field were fairly represented. It was not easy, but I am glad that I stepped up.

The first incident occurred a long time ago when I first started playing golf competitively. It was during a military regional tournament and I happen to be the team Captain.

During this first instance the Committee want to play the course as per normal. However, the night before it rained and rained and the course was soaked. The sand traps were full of water and casual water was everywhere. The course was almost unplayable. I found that their decision to play as per normal was not fair to the field. The reason is that the handicap differential was easily 20 strokes (no net scores for this event) and the current course conditions would have unfairly hinder the performance of the higher handicap players. So, I had to speak up and see if the Committee would ease their decision to allow for the entire field to perform to their potential.

This was the best bunker during the tournament!

Basically, I recommend two changes. The first was ‘lift clean and place’ as the way to go to even things on the field. I quickly had the support of the other team Captains so the Committee easily relented. Then I suggest that the bunkers should be considered Ground Under Repair. This suggestion took a bit of time to convince the Committee, but they saw my logic and realized that the lateral water rule in the bunkers would not work because some bunkers were completely filled with water. After 10 minutes of discussion, the Committee agreed and the changes were implemented.

The second time I challenged the Committee was not based in the rules, but in the fairness of the overall event. On the third and last day, the playing groups of 4 were being created (after two days of play and low stroke scores set the pairings). As it turned out, the last group was all from the same team. And the second group (mine) was all from my team. Now, the rules do not prohibit this situation, but I felt that it was unfair considering both teams were playing for the overall trophy.

I suggested to the Committee to change the lowest player in our group with the highest player in the lead group. There was only one stroke separating them so I felt that it would not hurt any of the players. Additionally, it would provide that level of oversight needed to ensure that no one could challenge the results. I have played in these events for over 25 years and I personally knew each player. Unfortunately, except for myself and another player the rest were strangers. Well, after much discussion and support from my friend who I have known for years, the Committee agreed to change the two players. And no I was not the player that moved up to the final group. The result was perfect and everyone thought my suggestions were spot on.

Playing competitive golf is challenging at the best of times. I believe that it is important that all players have an opportunity to challenge the Committee’s decisions. An open process is important and if you are a competitor, it is important that you avail yourself of this process when you feel that the integrity of the event is in jeopardy.

Have you ever challenged the Committee during a competitive golf tournament?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “Challenging The Committee In A Golf Tournament

  1. Jim, I have never challenged the Committee. However, being a certified rules official, I have either been the Committee or a member of the Committee in several tournaments. I have always found the Committee members to be reasonable although we are by design a stickler for the rules.


    • David

      The Committee was open to discussion in all cases. I definitely had to approach the conversation with logic and references….at it should have been. Importantly, the process was open and transparent.

      Cheers Jim


  2. Jim, I had to think hard but cannot recall ever challenging the committee. It was great that you stood up when you did because all those decisions you had altered were correct.

    What’s difficult is being the committee and playing in your own tournament. I’ve found the best way to handle that is to distribute clearly defined rules sheets to every player or team captain. Someone usually is going to gripe about something but it’s best to get it out of the way up front, and make a change then.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      I agree on both points. Playing and being on the Committee is very challenging. I am experiencing that with the Match Play Events that I organize for my club. Fortunately, the GM is the final arbitrator. Gives him an arms length and a buffer for complaints. That leads to my second point of a rules sheet. Using the same match play events, I handed out a detailed sheet at the beginning and never had a rules challenge. Worked perfectly.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

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