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pete cowen

‘Kids are being put off the game’: Academy at centre of DQ row on why rules need relaxing

Steve Carroll chatted to Nick Huby, the academy manager involved in a social media storm after a youngster’s much-publicised disqualification, about what needs to change
 

The Rules of Golf need to “get in line with the modern world” else the sport risks haemorrhaging players, says the academy at the centre of a row over a youngster’s disqualification from a junior event.

Nick Huby, academy manager at Pete Cowen Golf, reckons if you outlined the circumstances of one player’s ejection from the Yorkshire Boys’ Championship to 1,000 people on the high street, none of them would believe it.

The player, a junior, was DQ’d after a tyre blew on his parents’ car as they travelled to the event at Scarcroft and he turned up 15 minutes late for his tee time.

The Rules of Golf – Rule 5.3a specifically – gave Yorkshire Union officials little room for manoeuvre and a subsequent tweet from Cowen’s Rotherham-based academy set off a social media storm.

Huby stressed he understood the position Union rules chiefs were in when they denied the teenager a chance to play.

But he argued the rule itself needed tweaking after an incident that had been “bad PR for golf”.

“We believe it is junior golf, it’s about encouragement, involvement and participation,” he told NCG. “We are trying to ensure as many kids get the opportunity. We’re all for memory building – because kids aren’t kids for long.

“If the rules don’t change, and this is not a rant or a dig at the Union, and become a little bit more in line with the modern world then we’re eventually going to lose the game.

“Participation is down. There are fewer people playing golf. Yes, there are many great people and voluntary organisations helping in small ways as they can.

“But things like this are bad PR for golf and I just feel passionate that there has to be a logical common sense element to a lot of the rules which, sadly in golf, there aren’t.”

Huby added that Pete Cowen himself was aware of the controversy and, working with Henrik Stenson ahead of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, both had expressed the view that the rule as it stood was “ridiculous”.

“Of course, there have to be rules,” Huby continued. “I respect people who say you can’t have junior rules – but you can and you have to.

“You have to treat kids in a decent and honourable way. As adults, we are trying to teach and encourage them and get as many kids playing golf as possible.

“Certain rules, and certain regulations, at golf clubs definitely put kids off. I do research on this, I speak to kids and parents – people who got told off because their shirt wasn’t tucked in or their brother came to pick them up in jeans and he got shouted out.

“This rule really needs relaxing. If you asked 1,000 people on the high street, who don’t play golf and who don’t know the ins and outs of club mentality, and sold them the idea that a boy was on his way to a tournament, his parents’ car broke down, and he was disqualified when he got there – when in reality he could have just teed off later – they wouldn’t believe it.

“They would never dream ‘he’s got to be there for that exact time’, when he could just fit in the pack later.

“Imagine the same thing happened taking a child to school. The class starts at 9am, but the car breaks down en route, and they say, ‘No, you can’t come in, you’re late.’ It just wouldn’t happen.”

What do you think? Do you agree with the Pete Cowen Academy? Is it about time this Rule was changed, or is it just fine as it is? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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