A pioneer passes the torch

A pioneer passes the torch

Never had a woman held the position of Chair of the Rules of Golf Committee in Canada. Diane Barabé has broken down the first door of her sport, which was long reserved for men. After four busy years in office, his time has come to pass the torch.

The Québécoise official does not do it without a twinge of the heart. The year 2020 obviously thwarted his plans. Accustomed to treading the most beautiful courses in America and Europe following the exploits of the best professional and amateur golfers in major championships, it was in a way her swan song. His farewell tour.

To greet and thank her colleagues with whom she worked for four years, she did them virtually or at the end of the phone … The PGA Tour Player Championship last March was her last official assignment.

“I am not frustrated with this turn of events, but simply disappointed,” the 71-year-old first signaled in a generous interview with The newspaper before the transition to 2021. Not all the Chairs of the Rules Committee have served four years. I had three good years before the pandemic hit. ”

On the most beautiful courses

In an interview with Newspaper at the Royal Birkdale during the 2017 Open, as she began her tenure as Chair of Golf Canada’s Rules Committee, Mr.me Barabé had expressed the wish to live beautiful experiences by accumulating precious memories and friends all over the world.

By counting her assignments since 2017, the Granby official considered herself lucky. Two visits to the splendid TPC Sawgrass as well as three appearances at the Masters Tournament, the United States Open and the British Open in addition to two appearances at the United States Women’s Open. In addition, there are the two major Canadian championships and amateur tournaments, both internationally and provincially. She has raced the Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Erin Hills, Shinnecock Hills, Royal Birkdale, Carnoustie and Royal Portrush courses, to name a few.

Four years later, she confirms that she has made her wish come true. It was no small feat. The prestigious position is one of volunteer, but the workload is colossal. She lived in her suitcases running meetings and tournaments in the era of modernization of the rules of golf. (Read the other text below.)

“I was busy 12 months a year. I abandoned many small family joys. My spouse and children were well aware of what this position required. But I got into it 200%. I believe I have represented my country well. And I opened this door which was once reserved for men, ”she recalled.

Presence of women

In her early days, she could count on one hand the women called to officiate the major championships. After four years, she believes the cause has progressed. They are more present. Still very much in the minority, but the way is open.

“Times have changed since I first attended a professional men’s tournament. It was in 2014 during the Canadian Open in Montreal. The manager had informed the players that a woman would be a referee. It was me, she laughed, delving into her not so distant memories.

“But since then, I must say that it is not an anti-feminist universe,” she continued. I didn’t have that feeling. People are very open. I have never felt working in a closed world reserved for men. “

Nationally, Mme Barabé likes to recall that when he first started working on the Golf Canada Rules Committee, only two women were present on the nine-member panel. They are now four and even five by adding a consultant.


Believing that the succession is encouraging in the pool of officials in Quebec and Canada, Mr.me Barabé hopes to have paved the way. To climb the ranks, a good official must exercise his brainpower, know the rules at the tip of his fingers, have the desire to help the players rather than pinch them at fault, know how to approach them, know how to configure the courses, accumulate experience in the field and not count your hours.

Since experience can’t be bought, she doesn’t plan to shelve her rulebook immediately after passing the torch to her successor, Ontarian Tom Forestell.

The Quebecker will remain on the Rules Committee in 2021. She wants to be able to pass on her knowledge.

And a little two that she will certainly not refuse the invitations to officiate the two Canadian omniums of 2021. Subsequently, “she will see” what life has in store for her.

Pride and recognition

During her four-year mandate which began in 2017, Diane Barabé has not been idle. Far from there. She proudly participated in the project to overhaul the bible of golf rules. A handful of experts can claim to have accomplished this mission modernizing the principles of their sport.

As Chair of Golf Canada’s Rules Committee, her seat was reserved around the table of golf authorities around the world. She has worked with policymakers at the Royal And Ancient (R&A) of St. Andrews and the United States Golf Association (USGA), the two major governing bodies of golf in the world.

“It had been years since there had been a major overhaul of the rules. It needs to be done. The project began in 2014. I arrived in the heat of the moment. The objective was to review all the rules from A to Z, to make a modern and understandable text ”, explained the lady with elephant memory.

Simplify the story

Because, until 2019, it took a certain dose of courage and a great ease of understanding to venture into reading the voluminous book of the rules of golf …

“There were a lot of regulations and some incongruities. It looked like a piece of legislation, she said. The language had to be simplified. We went from 34 general rules to 24. It’s a phenomenal job.

“I participated in this committee with the great thinkers of the rules on an international scale,” she added, “this project having led her to travel to new places, including nearly ten times in St Andrews, the birthplace of golf in Scotland. We were always invited to give our opinion to improve a rule according to the realities of our region. ”

The rules committee created the work in 2018 and implemented it in January 2019. Not without clashes, of course. Several new regulations have drawn attention to professional circuits and have caused much ink to flow over the past two years. This is why the committee publishes details four times a year in order to clarify some of them.

In French please

The outgoing Chair of Golf Canada’s Rules Committee is not quite done with the job yet. Even if she will pass the torch soon, she is busy translating the new rules into French. As of January 2019, the official guide is only available in English.

“It’s a big project in which I actively participated. It is a source of pride for me, especially since I am the first woman in Canada to have held the presidency. I think I did a good job. I gave everything. I am also grateful for the opportunity. ”

Four years in a row

A pioneer passes the torch

Courtesy photo

Diane Barabé has seen many athletes grow up since her debut as an official in 1992, including Quebecer Valérie Tanguay, whom she crossed paths with during the 2019 Canadian Women’s Open.

What is your best experience as an official with the pros?

I loved my three appearances at the British Open. I visited the Royal Birkdale (2017), Carnoustie (2018) and Royal Portrush (2019). It is the “top of the line from A to Z” because of the reception and the manner of officer. We are assigned to a group and we walk with the golfers for a full round, while in other tournaments we are assigned to an area of ​​the course. We therefore live their round in the heart of the action. It is not given to many people. It is very impressive.

Which golfer impressed you the most?

I admired Tiger Woods. He’s the best, in my opinion, and an exceptional athlete. But it was a golfer who impressed me the most. Brooke Henderson. I’ve known her since she was five. I put her in my cart as she walked around with a small golf club following her sister to the junior tournaments. I saw it evolve. She behaves so well. She put Canada on the map in the LPGA. When she performs, we see the flag of Canada. She is our player par excellence.

Which route particularly amazed you?

It is safe to say that the major tournaments are all played on beautiful courses. There is no potato field! I couldn’t wait to see the Augusta National. But the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, home to the PGA Tour Players Championship, is at the top of my list. It is alongside the Augusta National. I must also say that Pebble Beach is joining them.

Conversely, which one disappointed you?

It’s hard to say, because it’s a beautiful place too, but Pinehurst was not up to par. I think I had very high expectations.

Which player is the nicest?

Dane Soren Kjeldsen. At the 2017 Open at the Royal Birkdale, I was drawn to his group. When we walked, he and his younger brother chatted to me throughout the round. They were very nice. The great majority of the guys are very respectful. I have interpreted rules with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Brooks Koepka, among others. They are very nice.

Which one knows the rules the most?

Jordan Spieth is very good and so is Tiger Woods. But I must say that they are all well aware of the regulations. When they ask for an official, it’s because they want to make sure they don’t mess up. When we proceed with the approval of the referee, we avoid a penalty.

What special moment do you particularly cherish?

In the weekend round at Carnoustie in 2018, I was the referee in charge of preceding the shots of the group of Tiger Woods. Up front, Phil Mickelson was playing with Austin Cook. I saw the massive crowd movements. It was impressive.

At the end of the round, Tiger came to thank me like the players all do before heading to the scoring center. He gave me his hand and nicknamed me “Dianna”.

He had this kindness. It was truly a special moment. Coming back from the 2017 British Open, I also took advantage of the charter flight taking golfers to the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey. It’s a great opportunity that will forever be etched in my memory. I saw that the guys don’t travel on foot!

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