“My Life as a Golf Marshall” :So You Want to Become a Golf Marshall? Do You Have the Right Stuff?

Now if you look on the internet about being a golf Marshall the conclusion of aggravated golfers would be you have to be white, retired, overbearing and ill mannered. Pardon me what a load of bullshit! Do not let a few angry and pissed off golfers create an impression of negativity. I see so few internet-based comments thanking the Marshall for the critical function of keeping the pace going in a non-confrontational and polite way. In seven months of Marshalling, I have not received any negative comments. In fact, the comments have been all positive thanking me for my efforts to keep the pace at an acceptable level that make the golfing experience enjoyable.

Getting hired was easy. Submit a resume that shows in some way you have handled complicated situations and have good problem-solving abilities if you have no past Marshalling experience it helps to communicate that you are a golfer and know the course you are going to Marshall at well. In my case I have been golfing since I was 6 years old and had been playing the course I Marshall at for some 35 years. Between you and me if there was ever a professional event held at my course I would be the caddy of choice because I know, or I thought I knew, every angle and strategic approach to every hole.

So before you apply can I give you a bit of a primer on the skills and personality you’ll need to succeed and ENJOY your Marshalling experience?

  • You are a golfer: You are a golfer who loves the game. You have a good idea what a Marshall does. However you’d like to learn more and would welcome a training session on course so you can gain a better idea of what is expected of you.
  • You know the course: It helps if you know the course. All the Marshalls at my course have played the course for years. Knowing the course well is an asset as you may be asked by golfers new to the course how they should play the hole. Of course the more times you have played the hole theoretically the more astute your advice will be.
  • You have a desire to learn: No one is born a golf Marshall. Perhaps the only experience you have is being asked to speed up or phoning the Pro-Shop to complain about a jam up. Wait for the Marshall to arrive and explain the situation. You’ll pick up experience in your training session(s) and on the course as you see the type of problems you encounter. Dealing with the week-end pot heads and boozers and the often-clueless juniors. You’ll also learn from golfers and fellow Marshalls what they have encountered and how they deal with it.
  • You will have to follow the chain of command: I hate to say this you are on the low end of the golf club power structure. If you are paid at all the groundskeepers, garbage collectors and toilet cleaners are making more than you. And as a Marshall you’ll realize you have the best overall picture what is happening on the course but on the other hand you can’t be everywhere at once and occasionally the Pro-Shop will receive a complaint about slow play far away from where you are. That’s kind of like a slap in your face but treat it simply as another source of intel and even if you are in the middle of fixing up a jam elsewhere the Pro-Shop calls the shots as illogical as that may be. They are higher up in the power structure than a Marshall is. So it is best to say “Yes Master” and clean up what they but not you see as a priority.
  • You have a thick skin: If you do get gaff from a golfer simply smile and say you will try and address the problem. If you are subject to racist slurs like “Shove your fucking white head your ass” recognize these racists for the idiots that they are and report it to the Pro-Shop to deal with. Do not show hostility or anger lest you offend the “patrons” however big these assholes are.
  • You love chatting with golfers: Aside from hustling golfers along to the Gods of Pace you are a bit of an ambassador at a cocktail party saying hello and exchanging pleasantries. Establishing a human connection will pay dividends if you must hustle the people you have established a relationship with. My job starts as soon as I get out of the car and head to the course. As an introvert what has overcome me. “How was your game today?” “Are you looking forward to your game? “Suddenly Mr. Introvert has been transformed into Mr. Extrovert! But there are some golfers who really aren’t interested in chatting so you should be able to pick up on that and move on.
  • You realize there is some paperwork involved: For me it is an hourly recording of 9- and 18-hole times, course condition reports and interactions with golfers. This is the tool that management determines the pace and what you have done to get it running smoothly.
  • You are prepared to be thrown off track: Don’t assume that your role is solely on the course. On occasion you may be asked to ferry late golfers to their group, take first aid supplies to an injured golfer or take handicapped golfers to their car.
  • You realize you are part of a team: There are groundskeepers, starters, maintenance staff, Pro-Shop employees and cart girls you need to keep good relations with. They are valuable sources about learning about how a golf course operates. They are also human beings that like chatting with you about their concerns. In fact the cart lady and I had a chat about her Serbian place of birth which I had visited and she was so thrilled I get a bag of peanuts each day she is on the course.
  • Try and maintain your sense of being treated with respect: While it is not a good idea to criticize golfers if the starter tells you “To get your ass up here now” or a maintenance worker calls you an idiot for zipping down a hill on your cart this is unacceptable behaviour but it must be treated in a non-confrontational fashion and as you are a retired white man that should have his head up your ass you made it to retirement being able to handle unpleasant situations.
  • Show a sense of humour and show empathy and compassion: I will say it becomes easy to see a forlorn golfer and when I see this I will often say “Here is a Marshall blessed golf ball or tee and it will bring you luck!” One golfer I said this to came up to me and profusely thanked me for giving him a Marshall blessed ball saying he had then picked up his game with three pars and two birdies and could I bless a box of balls for him. A young lady I gave a pink ball which I said had to be used on the short par three 15th gushed to me she scored the first birdie in her life with it. On Halloween I plan to give out candy to golfers. Small gestures can go a very long way! And yes it shows yet again a golf Marshall can make life better!
  • You are not in it for the money: I can’t say why you are interested in a job that pays miserably low wages if any. All the Marshalls at my course joke about the “wages” but enjoy the “free golf” which at my course is not really free as your salary of minimum wage is half minimum wage plus a round of golf for each shift included as a taxable benefit of your salary. In effect if you don’t play your “free golf” you are losing money.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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