Vol 22 March 2013

Mac Everett
General Chairman

Kym Hougham
Executive Director

Jan Ivey
Director of Marketing and Sponsor Relations

Tony Schuster
Director of Operations

Gwen Crow
Tournament Coordinator

Paula Burnett
Volunteer Coordinator

Christine Lockett
Tournament Project Manager

James Stevens
Tournament Assistant

Q & A with PGA TOUR Advance Official Dillard Pruitt

Dillard Pruitt, PGA TOUR Official

Each of the 37 official PGA TOUR events conducted in the United States, has a PGA TOUR Rules Official who comes to town a week before the tournament and helps get the event ready to stage a world class event. These individuals are commonly known as "Advance Officials" and play a key role in the overall success of a golf tournament.

For all but two years, Dillard Pruitt from Greenville, SC, has served as the advance official for the Wells Fargo Championship. Pruitt, like several of the Rules Officials, played on the PGA TOUR and won the 1991 Chattanooga Classic. Prior to turning professional he was a two-time All-America at Clemson and helped bring the Tigersí golf program to national prominence. He also won four prestigious amateur titles. He is the brother-in-law of professional golfer Jay Haas.

Here is a brief interview with Pruitt:

What are the top-five primary duties you have when you advance a tournament?

PRUITT: "Developing relationships with the local tournament people, in my opinion is the most important. This involves many people and the main message is that Iím here to represent the Tour at your event and lets work together to have the best golf event possible. If we can achieve that goal, itís a success for all parties involved.

Marking the golf course, both out of bounds and hazards.

At the Wells Fargo event, I do something that I do not get to do at my other advances. I will play nine holes about two to three times during the advance week. I live close by so I travel with my golf clubs. I will play with our advance agronomist Jeff Haley. I canít tell you the value this gives me. We will walk, just as the players do and this gives us a tremendous sense of how the course is playing.

Dealing with players that commit and withdraw during advance week. I do this with communication from our office in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and communicate that information to Kym Hougham and Lee Patterson.

There is quite a bit of paper work. This helps us for future tournaments. Things we liked and suggestions on issues we could do differently.Ē

How many tournaments do you advance during the year and how many times to you go visit the golf course and tournament staff throughout the year?

PRUITT: "I do four advances during the year. My first of the year is the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Wells Fargo, The Greenbrier, and Fryís.Com.Ē

Explain the process of deciding where the holes are located each day during a tournament?

PRUITT: "Two of our Rules officials each week get this job. This is called set up. One person does the front and the other will do the back. Last year Robby Ware was the front side set up and Steve Rintoul set the back. Itís fairly simple. We try to give the competitors a fair but quality test of golf. We try to mix in right, left, front and back hole locations. The greens dictate to us what we can do."

Why did you decide to become a Rules Official and how difficult was the process?

PRUITT: "I must say, I feel very lucky in this department. I decided after missing in a second stage qualifier in 1996 that my competitive golf career was over. I had neck and lower back issues and a doctor wanted to do surgery on my neck. I didnít want to go the surgery route. I was 35 years old at the time and thought I was young enough to have a second career. I was working for a golf company named ZEVO when I got a call from a man named Arvin Ginn. Arvin was a tournament director at the time. Itís a confusing title and since been changed to Vice President of Rules and Competition. He asked me if I would be interested in joining the Rules Staff. I attended Rules schools and worked local amateur events close to home. I was honored that he called and started working towards the end of 1998. Like I said I was very lucky, itís not that easy."

What do you most like about your job and what is the most challenging part of your job?

PRUITT: "Without a doubt the best part of my job is the relationships you make with the local tournament people, especially with the people at the tournaments I advance. To work together on a common goal, and see the expressions on their faces when a tournament goes well is a great sense of achievement.

When you advance a tournament you have challenges. Some things are completely out of your control, the weather for example. You have so many people working hard for a very long period of time on the event for it to shine basically from Wednesday to Sunday of tournament week. Sometimes, mother nature cooperates but there are times when she doesnít. Iím amazed on those tough days how hard everybody pulls together and makes it the best possible event that it can be. Like I said, it may be out of your control but you take a personal stake in that event and you want the very best for the players, the tournament, and the golf fans that come out to support this great game."

What were the two most memorable moments during your playing career?

PRUITT: "You may laugh, but being a part of a Clemson golf team that won the schoolís first team conference title is hands down the most memorable moment in my golf career. There were two, maybe three better teams than us but we beat them that week. Iím still in contact with those teammates and the Coach. The feeling and the drive back from Rocky Mount NC was something that I will never forget.

I am a very lucky person, I had many moments that Iím proud of in my professional golf career. Winning in Chattanooga TN, which got me an invite to play in Augusta at the Masters is certainly one and finishing T13 in that Masters after opening with a 75 is another. ď