The view from inside the ropes at a PGA Cup

By Bob Denney
Published on
The view from inside the ropes at a PGA Cup

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – The PGA Cup is nearly a half-century younger than its famed older cousin, the Ryder Cup, but the differences disappear within the gallery ropes.

Players in a PGA Cup, according to PGA Master Professional Ron Hickman, display the same intensity, passion and pride for team and country as their Tour counterparts competing for the prized Ryder Cup trophy.

“As a referee, you see the intensity rise a notch in a PGA Cup because you’re not as distracted by the spectators that are attracted to a Ryder Cup,” says Hickman, 56, who will be Chief Referee among an 11-member group at the 27th PGA Cup, Sept. 18-20, at CordeValle in San Martin, California.  

“I’ve always noticed how intense it gets for the Captains, too. As a Rules Official, we have a mix of seasoned and new referees. Serving as a referee is the pinnacle for a Rules Official.”

Hickman is PGA General Manager and owner of Professional Golf Services, a management company operating Timberton Golf Club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This will mark his third PGA Cup Rules appearance, all part of an impressive PGA Rules résumé.

Since he was appointed to the PGA Rules Committee in 1996, the native of Jamestown, Rhode Island and 1983 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, has served as Rules Official at 18 consecutive PGA Championships, nine Masters, four Ryder Cups, four Open Championships, one U.S. Open, the Players Championship, two PGA Grand Slam of Golf competitions, two U.S. Senior Opens and two Junior Ryder Cups. 

At CordeValle, Hickman will oversee a Rules force and “manage resources” that include Northern California PGA Professionals volunteering as observers for the singles matches. Observers help a referee assess where each player’s position is on a hole, communicating via radio.

“Observers are the eyes and ears for a referee,” says Hickman. “They give you an idea of what you will face upon arriving at the ball position of players in a match. The communication helps the pace of play and also making a Rules decision, if necessary, for a particular player.”

Among the PGA Cup referees is a guest Rules official from Great Britain & Ireland, who Hickman says, “provides another great perspective on administering the Rules.”

“I’m really looking forward to seeing CordeValle and the group of referees we bring for the PGA Cup,” says Hickman. “I’ve heard great things about CordeValle and how it sets up perfectly for match play. We anticipate a great PGA Cup.”