Gary Young Enjoying Career as PGA Tour’s Top Rules Official

Gary Young, former pro at Pleasant Valley CC for 12 years, joined the PGA Tour in 2007 eventually promoted in 2019 to Senior Vice President of Rules, Competition and Administration.

WORCESTER, Mass – You might say that Gary Young is officially in love with golf.

That’s because the 57-year-old resident of Millbury, Mass., is the head rules official for the PGA Tour.

“I love my job. I love what I do,” he said.

Two weeks ago, he was promoted from PGA Tour vice president of rules, competitions and administration to senior vice president of rules, competitions and administration.

In his role, he works 25 PGA Tour events a year and serves as chief referee in about 12 of them. Young also oversees the five members of the management team of the rules committee. He reports to Tyler Dennis, PGA Tour president and chief of operations.

Young became vice president at the beginning of 2021 after the retirements of veteran PGA Tour rules officials Mark Russell and Slugger White. Those two used to make all the decisions about enforcing the rules and weather or darkness delays, but Young decided to share those responsibilities at various tournaments with the five members of the management committee.

PGA Tour rules official Gary Young, who was the chief referee for the 2022 FedEx Cup, is shown here Aug. 14 explaining a ruling to the media about why Cam Smith was penalized 2 strokes between rounds.

Young had to deal with weather delays and 5-1/2 hour rounds last week when he served as chief referee at The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

TPC Sawgrass is a difficult course so rounds last longer than at other PGA Tour venues and it’s difficult to fit them all in with the limited amount of sunlight in March.

“When you figure it all out, 132 players fit perfectly at that time of year in that week,” Young said. “When we go with 144 we know we’re satisfying more members who are now getting a chance to play, but realistically we know we can’t possibly finish and we’ll have to finish up on Saturday morning, make the cut and go off two tees in threes and then we should be back on track in order to do our one-tee start in pairs on Sunday.”

Umpires in baseball or referees in football and basketball aren’t typically interviewed on national television, but the chief referee in golf often is. After the second round of The PLAYERS was called off for the day due to rain, Mike Tirico interviewed Young live on Golf Channel to explain when play would resume.

Young is often interviewed on network television and in the media room at tournaments.

“It’s a function of the sport,” Young said. “A lot of times people are interested in learning more if there’s a rules scenario and they want a deeper explanation. So sometimes television will ask me to come on air and describe in more detail what we’re dealing with.”

Young is unflappable, unassuming and easy going. So he handles himself well during interviews on television with golf fans from around the world watching.

“I’ll be honest with you, I try not to think about it,” he said. “I’ve never had any formal media training. I was blessed with having a boss in Mark Russell who was just always calm and a lot of poise under pressure and I’ve watched how he handled the media and how he handled those situations. He never seemed to get too far ahead of himself and he was always calm. So I’ve tried to follow that same mold.”

Gary Young is a familiar face on PGA Tour televised broadcasts frequently seen explaining to players what the correct rule is and how it applies to them.

After Young appears on TV, he usually receives text messages from friends and family, especially his brothers Tom and Jeff. Some tell him how well he did and how proud they are. Others poke fun at him.

They sometimes even text him during his interviews or while he’s enforcing a rule during a tournament on live television. So he makes sure to keep his phone on vibrate.

“I always laugh about it,” he said. “I look at my phone after everything’s done and I laugh about all the text messages, but it’s fun.”

Young is taking a wait and see attitude about the proposal that the USGA and R&A announced on Tuesday to give competition organizers the option to use limited-flight golf balls. The proposal is intended for use only in elite competitions and would have no impact on recreational golf.

If adopted, the proposal would take effect on Jan. 1, 2026.

David Maher, president and CEO of Acushnet Company, maker of Titleist golf balls, has come out against the proposal in part because he believes golfers of all levels should be able to use the same golf balls.

Young would like more information.

“We are simply in a mode of listening to our membership,” Young said of the PGA Tour, “and other constituents, such as golf manufacturers, to hear what they all have to say. Golf is in a good place at the moment and we don’t want to have any knee jerk reactions to this issue. Now is a good time to listen to all sides that are involved and be well informed before any decisions are made.”

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is doing its best to not allow LIV Golf to steal any of its thunder.

“I still think that ours is a superior product,” Young said, “and we just need to focus on being the best that we can be and however LIV Golf ends up, it ends up, but I can’t worry one minute about that.”

Bill Doyle brings 45 years of professional sports writing experience to New England dot Golf. His resume includes 40 years as a sports writer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette where he wrote a Sunday golf column and covered professional and amateur golf. He also wrote about all four of the major professional sports teams in the Boston area, mostly about the Boston Celtics, as well as college and local sports. Working for the newspaper in the city where Worcester Country Club hosted the inaugural Ryder Cup in 1927, Doyle covered the improbable comeback of the U.S. team at the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline. He also covered the 1988 U.S. Open at TCC, the 2001 and 2017 U.S. Senior Open championships at Salem Country Club, the U.S. Women’s Open championships at The Orchards in South Hadley in 2004 and at Newport Country Club in 2006, the PGA Tour stops at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton for nearly 20 years and at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, for several years; and every PGA Tour event at TPC Boston in Norton from the inaugural event in 2003. He will provide regular contributions ranging from interviews, travel, lifestyle, real estate, commentary and special assignments. Bill can be reached at

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