Name: John Ball Home Club: Tenby Volunteering Role: Referee
Refereeing at Aberdovey Golf Club for the Welsh Seniors Championship, we sat down with John, a coffee, and fired a few questions his way:
How long have you been playing golf?
I have been playing now since I was 40 and I’m now 58, so I have nearly 20 years of a moderate standard of golf behind me! I started playing at a club over in Redditch and then soon moved on to Tenby, joining I think in 2003.
What attracted you to the Rules of Golf?
Well, I have a strong engineering background so its all about facts and the way things should be for me. After a few years of playing I took The PGA Rules Course up at the Belfry and found it interesting, then one day the noticeboard at the golf club was talking about the Golf Union of Wales, as it was, doing a Rules Course with the R&A. I signed up… and here I am today!
When did you qualify?
It was in 2013 when I completed my course with Wales Golf. It’s funny looking back, I was on holiday just weeks before the exam and I spent a lot of lying on a sunbed reading the Rules & Decisions book! But it was certainly worth it, because I did quite well!
When did you first get involved with Championships?
It was with Rhys James, when he was Championship Manager in the summer of 2013. I did just one event in my first year, then a couple the next and it has really snowballed from there! I have refereed the Boys & Girls Championships 3 times, the Welsh Team Championships a couple of times. Yeah, I’ve been all over the place! It’s been fascinating! I’m refereeing at the Welsh Amateur Championship this year too, that will be brilliant!
What is your favourite aspect of Refereeing?
I think it’s when a younger competitor calls you over, and they really aren’t sure of the Rules and it’s the fact you are genuinely helping someone, you are genuinely helping to educate too. We are here to help players rather than catch them out. You also get to see a lot of great golf and its a joy to behold players of such ability at such close quarters! You get closer than anybody as a referee!
What is the attraction of Wales Golf Championships?
Going to different clubs and venues, is in itself interesting. Looking at what happens elsewhere is interesting and I like to try and take back good things happening at clubs across Wales and take them back home with me. And it’s a new stage of my life; I have been looking after myself for the first 50 years of my life, and now I want to look at doing things which benefit other people, and this to me is such a pleasurable way to do that. It’s about giving back but at the same time I genuinely enjoy it!
Of all the Events and Championships we run at Wales Golf, which are your favourites?
It’s difficult. The Ping Welsh Junior Tour is just fantastic! You are helping and affecting the future of the game and that is rewarding. But on the other hand the top level elite Championships are brilliant because you can get more out of it as a golfer, and to watch such high level golf at close range which is a privilege not everyone can have.
Where would like Refereeing to take you?
As far as I can! I am now retired and have time to commit. I would love to go on and take the top level, the level 3 Rules exam in the future. I’m never going to be a top top golfer but maybe I can be a top referee! I’d like to see where it can take me and see what events I can possibly get involved in.
Finally John, which of the new Rules set for 2019 is the best change?
Three minutes is definitely a good thing. 5 minutes searching in all sorts is far too long! I think someone can come up with a three minute timer to hook on your bag which beeps at you when your time is up, maybe I could make a new living there!!! The new Rules look good – I am glad the R&A took feedback from golfers and from the unions, and look as though they have acted on it. I think that shows them in a very good light.
Ever though about getting involved in Refereeing, the Rules of Golf, and in our Championships? We would be delighted to start you on your journey. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily assist you.