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Policies and ProceduresRules Notebook: Amateur Championships

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A Conflict of Interest describes any circumstance that could call into question a person’s ability to act with impartiality and objectivity. If a Referee, walking Referee, Rover or other person (collectively “Referee”) has a relationship with a player that might influence or reasonably be perceived as influencing any actions on behalf of the players and/or the USGA, it is considered a Conflict of Interest. In addition, there are circumstances where a Referee with an assigned group or match might experience unnecessary pressure (collectively “Conflict of Interest”).

Examples of a Conflict of Interest include, but are not limited to the following:

  • A player in the group or match that you have been assigned to is from your home state/country and you know this player well enough that a ruling could be questioned.
  • A player in the group or match that you have been assigned to, whether or not the player is from your home state/country, is someone you consider a personal friend.
  • You are assigned to time (pace of play) a player in a group or a match and you know that player well or you consider the player to be a personal friend.
  • You understand/speak the language that a player, who has a language barrier, also speaks, but one of the above or other concerns exists where it might be beneficial to reassign you as an Observer.


A Referee should disclose an actual or perceived Conflict of Interest to the USGA Championship Director or the USGA staff member responsible for the Rules assignments prior to beginning the assignment. It is in the best interest of everyone to reassign the Referee to a different group or match. If a Referee is uncertain about whether a Conflict of Interest exists, the Referee should discuss the matter with either the Championship Director or the USGA staff member responsible for the Rules assignments to determine whether the Referee should be reassigned.

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Whether to commence or continue play in a round when fog is present is a difficult decision. Fog, by its very nature, is not easy to forecast, and it is challenging to predict when it will set in or lift.

From a playability standpoint, it is the USGA’s policy to commence/continue play in a round if the landing zones for all shots to be played are visible to the players. In this regard, tee shots requiring the use of a driver may present the most difficult challenge since such shots cover the most distance.

Things such as fairway lines, bunkers, penalty areas, trees, etc., in the drive zone must be visible to a large extent.

However, the fact that visibility is partially obscured by fog such that the entire flight of the ball is not possible does not generally require a decision to delay/suspend play.

In situations in which two separate courses are being used (e.g., U.S. Amateur), in the vast majority of cases if one course delays/suspends play, the other must, too. This should apply

  1. whether the courses are near each other, and
  2. no matter the reason for delay/suspension (e.g. fog, lightning). Acting otherwise could present too many scenarios where players are treated differently and perhaps unfairly.

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The following are options available to the Committee in the event of heavy rain creating temporary water on any putting green:

  • Squeegee nothing and let the player decide whether to proceed under Rule 16.1d;
  • Squeegee the putting green between groups. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove the flagstick and squeegee the green while a group is waiting to play;
  • Squeegee the putting green (not specific lines of play) after a group has played to green;
  • At the player’s request, squeegee his or her line of play when the ball lies on the green; or
  • Squeegee a player’s line of play when temporary water on the putting green materially affects the type of shot the player intends to play, such as a putt from off the green or a running-type chip shot, but only on the authority of a Rover.


Note: In exceptional circumstances any combination of the above may be utilized.

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When a wait develops on the tee of a par 3 or drivable par 4, the Committee may wish to institute a “call-up” to help alleviate an impending pace of play problem and should do its best to anticipate such situations.

Following are some guidelines to consider regarding a “call-up.”

When to Implement                                                     

A “call-up” would be warranted when there is a full-group wait on a par 3 or drivable par-4 hole and it is apparent that the wait will increase with subsequent groups. A full-group wait occurs when a group arrives at the tee immediately after the group in front has left the tee.

How to Implement                                                    

When it becomes necessary to implement the “call-up” policy, the following procedure will be put into place by the Rover or zone Referee assigned to the hole in question, in coordination with the walking Referees, if applicable. The Championship Director should be notified that a “call-up” is being implemented.

  • A Rover or zone Referee should be present at the tee and, if applicable, the walking Referee with the group in front should be at the putting green.
  • The first waiting group (or the group that has played their first strokes and which has yet to arrive at the putting green) should be informed that once all players’ balls come to rest on the putting green, they will be asked to mark and lift their balls and to step aside to allow the group behind to play from the tee.
  • Once that group has played from the tee, the group on the putting green may then replace their balls and proceed to play out the hole.
  • If a ball from the group behind comes to rest on the putting green and it potentially interferes or helps with play, Rule 15.3 applies, and it should be marked and lifted.
  • Once the wait has been eliminated and the relative positions of following groups indicate that a “backup” is not imminent, the Rover or zone Referee should determine whether or not to discontinue with the “call-up” procedure. The Championship Director should be notified that the “call-up” procedure has been discontinued.

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Fans may carry mobile devices smaller than 7 inches in length and/or height including cellphones, smartphones and PDAs, and use them for limited purposes on

the championship grounds, subject to the following restrictions:

  • All device volume controls must be set to silent or vibrate at all times.
  • Phone calls must not be received or placed in any area that may disrupt play.
  • Use of approved devices for photographs is subject to the camera/photography policy.
  • Video and audio recording, and live broadcasting are not permitted at any time.
  • Texting and email are permissible throughout all areas of the golf course, but use should NOT disrupt players.


Violation of the above policy may result in immediate expulsion from the championship.

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Stand-alone cameras may only be brought, and mobile device camera features may only be used during practice rounds and only for personal photographic use. No photography is permitted in the presence of a player from the time the player addresses the ball until the completion of their swing.

Video and audio recording are not permitted at any time with any device.

Violation of the above policy may result in immediate expulsion and loss of ticket privileges for the remainder of the championship.

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