Most games, even in tournaments, are jointly refereed by the players themselves. However a qualified referee, if available, should be asked to adjudicate any stroke in which a player suspects a fault may be committed, or in the event of uncertainty as to how to proceed with the game.
The CA makes provision to train and examine two grades of GC referee:
GC Referee: a qualified referee can officiate at any GC game, match or event (for major tournaments: if so authorised by the Tournament Referee).
GC Championship Referee: some of the most experienced GC Referees have been selected to officiate at top-class events.
In addition, there are GC Examining Referees - with at least one in most Federations.
The powers and duties of referees are spelled out in Section R of the CA Regulations for Tournaments.
Most often, a referee acts as a Referee on Request - called on by the players either to watch a problematic stroke about to be played, or to sort out a problem after it has happened.
Occasionally, when the situation demands, a referee may be asked to supervise a match and become a Referee in Charge.
All significant tournaments controlled by the CA or a Federation will normally have an appointed Tournament Referee: the official with responsibility for nominating and allocating authorised referees, and hearing appeals.
Resources for Referees and Players
A number of resources are available to help players, existing GC Referees and those considering becoming a referee:
The CA slow-motion videos - stroke guidance for players and referees. When made in 2006, these videos revolutionised our understanding of what happens in many normal strokes played in AC and GC. Any serious player or aspiring referee will benefit from studying these videos.
Preparation for a GC Referee course describes what you need to do in advance to ensure a successful course.
Practice questions are 20 example questions, similar to those in the referee's exam, to help get you used to finding answers in the rules booklet.
What comes up most often? lists the most frequent issues that GC referees are called upon to decide - it helps you focus your study on the areas of most concern.
Rule 10 - The Wrong Ball rule has been simplified and amended in the 5th Edition with the introduction of the "Ball Swap" remedy. This provides a means of avoiding the unfairness of the "gift hoop" situation.
Rules 11.2.4 and 6 - Another two rules which can be difficult to apply on the court are the related pair of Double Tap and 'Ball Crush' in the context of short range clearances. See Appendix 4 of the GC Rules booklet and a more detailed discussion at Guidance to Referees and Players on Short Range Clearances.
Hammer Strokes and other strokes where the mallet is driven down onto the ball can also often cause faults [Rules 11.2.4 and 5 in particular] and Guidance to Referees and Players on Hammer Strokes and Jump Strokes explains the basis on which such strokes will be refereed.
Finally, there is a guidance note on how to Interpret Lawn Damage that explains what is and isn't a fault, and how to decide from the evidence.
Referee courses are run around the country, often at the start of a season. Check the CA Fixtures Calendar and the Croquet Academy for details of advertised courses or ask your Federation if they have any planned.
A typical GC Referee course takes two days, and candidates are usually examined at the end of the second day. Alternatively, some candidates might be examined on a separate occasion.
To help prepare yourself, you might like to obtain a DVD prepared by Bill Arliss: "The practical side of GC Refereeing". This is available for £10 (including delivery) direct from Bill.
Successful candidates who are CA members and who pass the on-court and written exams will be added to the CA Directory list of GC Referees and receive a red 'GC Referee' badge.
AC Referees are sometimes offered one day courses to 'convert' their skills to also become a GC Referee. These will include the full GC Referee written exam. Players already qualified as AC referees take a cut-down GC on-court test, focusing on the chief areas of difference from AC such as double taps and 'ball crushes' in clearance strokes.
If your club or Federation consider there is demand for a course in the area, contact the Chairman of GC Rules Committee who will put you in touch with a GC Examining Referee able to lead a course for you. The club or Federation normally organises the course, advertises it and obtains entries. The expenses for the GC Examining Referee should be met from the candidates' entry fees. Between five and eight (or perhaps 10) players is an ideal number. The assistance of another qualified referee, either GC or AC, to help with the practical tests is very beneficial.
Criteria to be eligible to be considered as a GC Championship Referee are:
If eligible, an additional more thorough on-lawn test will be required; this test will be conducted by two GC Examining Referees. The test will include, for example, an emphasis on hoop-running faults and lawn damage. There is no further written exam.
Candidates may apply to the Chairman of GC Rules Committee for consideration at any time. Tournament Referees are also requested to identify any good candidates to the Chairman of GC Rules Committee.
The GC Rules Committee may consider exceptional cases, who might not meet the standard criteria given above, but are still adjudged worth inviting to take the on-lawn test.
Successful candidates who pass the on-court test will be added to the CA Directory list of GC Championship Referees and receive a blue 'GC Championship Referee' badge.