Columbia CC's Hill doffs player's cap for official's

September 12, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

If there had been a help wanted ad, it might have included such things as spending six months on the golf course, and getting paid for it.

As Dick Hill found out, however, that was only part of the story. Hill, a member of Columbia Country Club, and retired from IBM, recently concluded a season as a rules official for the Futures Tour.

This was the Futures' 13th season as a recognized operation for aspiring women golf professionals. What began as a series of mini-tours in several parts of the country years ago, has grown to a point where this year there were 13 events for a total purse approaching $500,000.

Hill has been involved with the game of golf, as well as its rules, for years, and in his background is a Columbia club championship and a couple of non-productive years on the Senior PGA Tour.

"I was retired, had tried to play on tour and found out I wasn't good enough, and thought being a rules official would be the next best thing. Now, after a concentrated dose, I think it is the first best," Hill said the other day, taking a break from his preparations to move to Boca Raton, Fla., next week.

"It turned out to be a seven-days-a-week job, what with the travel and setting up the courses for play [such things as marking hazards, ground under repair, and pin placements for the pro-ams and the tournaments proper], before I even began the work of serving as a rules official."

Last fall, Hill sent his resume to Deane Beman, the PGA Tour commissioner, whom he had known since Beman's Bethesda CC days.

"I just wanted to work some tour," Hill said.

"One day, I got a call from the Futures Tour. They got my name from Suzanne Jackson, a rules official with the LPGA, and I started the first week in April."

In the process, he became the organization's first male rules official.

It didn't take Hill long to find out he was in the right position.

"I was just so impressed with these women," he said. "They can play."

This was born out by the fact 31 of them qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, and a half-dozen made the cut.

During the year, Nanci Bowen and Margaret Platt broke the tour's scoring record for a 54-hole tournament with 10-under-par totals, and at least two players set course records with scores of 65 and 66. The top nine players won at least $10,000, led by Bowen's $20,443 for 11 events.

Hill found out the players' knowledge of the rules ran the gamut, although even the more proficient ones were shaky in certain situations.

"The players were required to take a rules test, and if they did not get a certain score, they were required to attend a rules workshop run by me," Hill said. "I was the first one to show an interest in them, and I know they appreciated it.

"Another thing -- we had one site that had held a Futures event and a Nike [PGA Tour satellite tour] event, and the volunteers said the Futures was run so much better. As an example, the girls get private housing and are required to send thank-you notes to their 'families.' "

The hours, particularly the travel where the shortest hop was three and the longest 18, were a grind, but in Hill's words, "It didn't seem like work. With setting up the courses, there was as much physical labor as mental, and I know I saw more snakes in three months than in my whole lifetime.

"Overall, though, it was something I'll never forget. It was just a great experience."

And, with such compliments as "a welcome breath of fresh air," and "the best thing to happen to this tour in years," behind him, Hill now hopes this experience will help in seeking a position with one of the major tours.

Special events

The fourth Mount St. Mary's pro-am, benefiting the athletic scholarship fund, will be held Thursday-Friday at Holly Hills CC in Ijamsville.

* The annual RP pro-am, featuring nationally recognized blind golfer Worth Dalton and about 25 Middle Atlantic PGA pros, will be held Tuesday at Sparrows Point CC.

This week's schedule

Tomorrow -- Middle Atlantic PGA Northern Chapter championship, Fountainhead CC, 8 a.m. Tuesday-- Women's Golf Association, CC of Maryland and Chestnut Ridge CC, 9 a.m. Thursday -- Maryland State Golf Association Women's Senior championship, Elkridge Club, 8 a.m.; MAPGA/Mount St. Mary's Pro-Am, Holly Hills CC, 8 a.m. Friday -- MAPGA/Mount St. Mary's Pro-Am, Holly Hills CC, 8 a.m.; Free State Seniors, Suburban Club, 11 a.m.

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