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Ash Weller – refereeing at the USPGA Championship

 

Ash Weller (pictured above with PGA Tournament Director Chris Joyce) is a PGA Fellow Professional and first qualified back in 1995. He recently began his third season as the lead tournament director for the PGA Europro Tour. Ash has been a member of the PGA Rules Panel since 2009 and recently returned from Bethpage State Park after refereeing at the USPGA Championship.

What events have you refereed at before?

I have refereed at all levels including PGA Regional and National events, PGA Europro Tour, Challenge Tour, European Q School and main tour events plus the Ladies British Open.

What is it like refereeing at a Major Championship?

On Thursday morning I was so nervous I thought I was going to be sick. Once I got out there and realised it was ‘just another golf tournament’ and the rules were just the same I got into the swing of it and soaked up the atmosphere

What type of rulings did you have to make at the USPGA Championship?

Pretty standard to be honest, immovable obstructions, lifting and identifying the ball, abnormal course conditions and a ball in a spectator’s bag!

How many referees were there at Bethpage?

A few more than I’m used to!! There was a referee assigned to every hole plus a number of roving officials and walking referees with the final groups on the weekend.

What was your main role over there? What holes were you assigned to?

With the rough as thick at is was I felt like chief ball spotter! My role was to be in charge of the allocated hole for rulings and to report any slow groups to the rovers who could deal with pace of play issues. I don’t think it was widely publicised but we were under or within a few minutes of the allocated round time on all four days, which is remarkable on a course as tough as Bethpage Black.

What was the best part of the week?

That’s a tough one to answer. To be acknowledged as qualified and capable enough to referee at the pinnacle of our sport and to represent The PGA abroad has left me with a memory for life, but making friends with colleagues from The PGA of America, The PGA Tour and The R&A whilst being able to witness the best in the world at close quarters has to be the highlight of the week for me.