Referee Spotlight: U.S. Open Next For GNAC Rules Guru
Susan Prugh, who has officiated at the last three GNAC Golf Championships in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, will be a member of the officiating crew at this week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Susan Prugh, who has officiated at the last three GNAC Golf Championships in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, will be a member of the officiating crew at this week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Beginning with this Q&A and continuing through next May, we will be bringing you profiles on the unsung heroes of GNAC athletic competition -- the rules officials, referees and officiating supervisors without whom the games could not occur.

These "Referee Spotlights" are intended to heighten awareness for this critical aspect of amateur sports while celebrating the efforts of those individuals who are giving back to the game through the avocation of officiating.

This initiative is part of a comprehensive strategy by the DII Conference Commissioners Association to 1) bring attention to the crisis-level shortage of officials affecting amateur sports across the U.S. and 2) promote the benefits and rewards of officiating by implementing a national recruitment effort within the division.

In this initial installment, we profile GNAC golf rules official Susan Prugh, who this week will serve on the officiating team at the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. 

Not only that, but her son Alex will be playing in the U.S. Open after having qualified for the event last month. 

Many thanks to Susan and all the GNAC officials across all of our 16 sports for the work they do on behalf of our student-athletes.

Now, on to the Q&A.

Name: Susan Prugh

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Family: Steve Prugh, husband; and three children: Hillary, Corey, and Alex.

Explain how you got started in golf officiating: I asked my husband about a rule of golf, he gave me the Decisions Book, and would not take it back.  I studied and went to workshops.

What was the attraction to golf officiating for you: It’s how I play golf.

How would you describe your involvement in golf as a player, and how did that help spur your interest in becoming a rules official? I started by watching my husband, Steve, play golf when I was 17.  I followed so many rounds since then, with him, and then our children.  Our family made a 5-some, so I was the pace of play monitor.

Typically, an official in any sport needs to become an "expert" in the rule book. What approach did you take to learning the rule book inside and out? Attending USGA and PGA workshops.  I read the rules book often, several times a year.

When was your first assignment as a rules official, and what do you remember about that particular experience? My first experience was with the Washington Junior Golf Association.  It took me five minutes to do a cart path ruling -- which takes 20 seconds now.

Can you outline a typical officiating year in terms of what events you typically have on your calendar and the travel involved? I am busy from March until October every year.  In the spring, we start with high school golf and then move on to the NCAA’s, including the GNAC Championships in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It then moves into USGA events in June, July and August and the Washington Junior Golf Association in June and July.  Then I am back to working college golf events in September and October.

Are there USGA requirements to maintain your status as an official? You must achieve a 90 or better on the USGA/PGA Workshop examination.  Currently, I have a 98. Plus, experience in serving as a rules official for any event, at any level, is a significant component.

What have you found to be the biggest challenges as a high-level golf official? The weather.

As your officiating career developed, did you ever have aspirations of working one of golf's majors? If so, describe. Of course – the United States Open.

What are some of the other events you have worked as a rules official?  USGA Senior Open, USGA Women's Open, USGA Men's Amateur, USGA Women's Amateur, USGA Girl's Junior, NCAA Division I Championships, GNAC Championships, and Washington Junior Golf Association tournaments from age 8 to 18.

What has been your most memorable moment as a rules official? Hugging an 8-year-old who was crying because he put a ball in the water hazard.