Southwest Florida golf: Criticism par for course in life of rules official Dick Young
Dave Kempton, Special to the Naples Daily News Published 2:00 p.m. ET July 31, 2018
Dick Young spends approximately 35 weeks a year doing a job that in many cases provides little kindness from the people he communicates with.
In fact, the 84-year-old Cape Coral resident is sometimes penalized for knowing too much about the sport he helps govern.
Young is a tournament director and rules official for the Florida State Golf Association and the United State Golf Association.
Translated, that means Young handles rules decisions – in many cases adding more strokes to a player’s misfortune – and prepares the setup of a course prior to a tournament – which can lead to complains about the length or the pin positions being inaccessible.
Young’s resumé includes working with South Florida PGA Section events, FSGA state events, national college championships and USGA sectional and regional events.
Dick Young, 84, of Cape Coral spends approximately 35 weeks a year as a rules official for the Florida State Golf Association and the United State Golf Association.
Young likes the direction the sport is heading and the many rules changes that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.
“The course closings, cost of playing the game and the time involved has ruled the conservation in recent years, but the new rules changes – with an emphasis on fast play – will help change things,” Young said. “Another big change is the number of kids being introduced to the game and the size of these 7 to 9 year old kids boggles my mind.
“I recently worked a Drive, Chip & Putt competition in Estero and these kids showed up with all 14 clubs in their bag. What made it more interesting was in many cases the parents were toting the bags.
“The kids are also well educated about the rules. I can see golf having the potential to get back where it was 10-15 years ago.”
Young was a veteran lacrosse official in the Syracuse, New York, area when he started working golf events for the state association. He moved to Lee County after retiring from National Cash Register, and then to Cape Coral in 2010.
Young attended a FSGA rules seminar with a neighbor in 1996 and quickly became involved with tournaments and rules.
He agrees with the bifurcation side that the game is different for amateurs and the tour professionals – both sides keep going farther apart and would be better served with separate rules.
“The average player has never been further removed from the professional game,” he said. “I watch these boys and girls that go to college with a decent game and then decide to turn pro and that’s the last thing they should be doing.”
Young especially enjoys preparing a course for a tournament.
“I enjoy selecting locations for the hole pin placements, taking into consideration what the weather will be and keeping pace of play moving along because there’s nothing worse than a five hour round of golf,” he said. “Sometimes with a difficult course long rounds are hard to avoid.”
Young watched the recent U.S. Open with severe conditions and the putting green incident with Phil Mickelson, where he was penalized for striking a moving ball.
“The USGA got slapped in the face with the low scores at the two recent Opens at Chambers Bay in Washington and Erin Hills last summer in Wisconsin and then they over compensated this year,” he said.
“And I think the USGA weaseled out on when Mickelson slapped at a moving ball on the green, he should have been disqualified.”
Penalties and being yelled at go along with being an official, even in golf.
“I’ve been yelled at by a man who said the course setup was way too difficult after shooting an 84,” he said. “Then I simply pointed out the winner shot a 64. They’re upset with penalty stokes when playing too slow but after a few events they come around.”
Young also has his favorite courses in Southwest Florida for tournament play. He lists Naples National, Quail Creek, TwinEagles and Bay Colony in Collier County and Fiddlesticks and The Forest’s Bear 18 as his favorites.