By Trevor Watson
PAUL Carrigill is preparing for what anyone with the slightest interest in golf would regard as a dream trip when he heads off to America this weekend.
Paul is going for Atlanta to act as a referee at The Masters tournament, one of the finest events on the calendar. As an added incentive, he is also playing the famous course on the day after the competition finishes. Little wonder he admitted that being invited had come as ‘a massive surprise but an incredible boost.’
Paul, who was born in Dewsbury and lived on Leeds Road for some years, now lives on the Tingley-West Ardsley border. He played golf at the Low Laithes, Howley Hall and Moortown clubs and was an outstanding and successful amateur, winning many titles, and as a professional was good enough to qualify to play six times in The Open, and made the cut in 1983 at Birkdale.
He has been officiating at European tournaments for 12 years. Last year he was on duty at The Open and then was involved in marking out the course and selecting pin positions at Celtic Manor for the Ryder Cup but family circumstances prevented him being there during play.
He added: “Being at The Masters means I will have had a remarkable 12 months, involved at three really great tournaments. I was fortunate to be at The Open because someone withdrew and they asked me to attend.
“I have never been to Augusta, it will be an incredible experience. On the Monday of Masters’ week I’ll be playing at Eastlake in a match between the American and Non-American referees, which should be interesting.
“Then to play the Augusta course after the tournament will be special. Apparently it’s very different to how it seems on television, it looks flat but the hills are unbelievable. I’m hoping to get some practice in before I go. I’m fortunate that Howley Hall and Low Laithes are very helpful and allow me to play.
“I’m still a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association but my handicap varies these days from scratch to about 10, depending how I feel when I get up.
“One of the roles as referee is usually to keep an eye on the speed of play but in America they don’t seem as concerned with timing as we are in Europe so that aspect may be more relaxed.
“There are usually two referees at each hole, one for the driving distance and the other at the green. Obviously we’re also there to advise players on rulings such as whether a ball is unplayable. If there are any problems we’re in contact with other officials by radio.
“We don’t have the pressure of football or rugby referees with instant decisions, but you have to keep up to date with the rule book, and there are slight changes from time to time.”
On his retirement from playing, Paul took up a post in Germany to run a club. It was a brand new venture with initially only a driving range and few members but he proved highly successful and stayed there for six years as the club grew, which has made him a fluent German speaker.
During his time there he spotted a young player making his mark, Martin Kaymer, now the world No 1. Paul decided to return home and was offered a post as official on the European tour. It has kept him close to the game he loves and he is friends with many of the world stars.