“My Life as a Golf Marshall” : Time to Say Good-Bye

What a miserable last couple of days. Yesterday 4 hours of bone chilling weather at 5 degrees but add on the wind chill I was shivering after hour three and suffering a bad windburn. I mean it looked like I’d spent too long at the beach in Cancun!

Then this morning I think that weather gave rise to a mild cold. Stuffy nose and a bit of a sore throat. And today I decided to call in to determine if they required my services. The answer was no. Its pouring rain and maybe even some snow mixed in. So I am glad the elements will not batter me but I wanted to say a good-bye to the golf course I worked two days each week and played golf two days in that week. I have worked through hail, sleet and nasty humidity that left you drenched in sweat at 10:30 a.m. I have seen coyotes, foxes, rabbits, deer and a whole lot of very poor golfers.

So what are my parting thoughts?

  • Would I do it again? My shifts were the “shit shifts” given to the new guy. Saturday morning was not that bad as the better golfers are out early. Sunday afternoon you hold your breath and hope for the best. Newbies, children and the drinkers. Try and go out on Saturday night after getting up to Marshall at 6 a.m.
  • Most golfers are good people. Golfers would not be out on the course unless they loved the game. That is what unites us. They are mostly polite and like to talk about golf and if I ask them to speed it up most will apologize and help the pace quicken. There are dickheads and racists out there that tell you explicitly and implicitly to fuck off. Then there are the painfully slow golfers making far too many practice swings, walking too slowly and waiting for others to hit. I used to call them selfish and rude but their appalling slow play I think is more a question of any mandatory etiquette courses not in place.
  • Golf is twisted game. Almost all golfers suffer from good day bad day syndrome. You are hot one day and pathetic the next. The mindful golfer accepts the bad days and the good days as inevitable and laughs about their erratic game. Too much thinking about that last bad shot or the awful game you are in the midst of ruins your mindset. Yes before I took a mindful approach I recall leaving the course either angry or upset. It’s simply not worth it. Move on and appreciate the camaraderie and beautiful settings.
  • I have become an extrovert. I am naturally an introvert and there is nothing wrong with that despite society seeming to value extroverts. Dale Carnegie wanabees. I find I am not shy approaching golfers and starting a brief conversation and giving advice when asked for.
  • Was I a good Marshall? At my golf course no one sits down and gives you a performance review. If I had done a bad job I would have been told or fired. Any compliments or negative vibes come from golfers. I have received many appreciative comments but no negative ones although some frustration about the pace may be directed my way.
  • Pace is king! Golfers want a quick game. That is me too. I play ready golf. One practice swing and not tortuous set ups for a shot. No practice putt swings either. It could be my Scottish heritage but I play Scotch golf. If there is any “management pressure” on a Marshall it is keep the round at 4:20. That’s a Marshall’s job and you have to be polite. No arguing just gentle persuasion.
  • A sense of humour is sometimes worth its weight in gold! A little trick I use is to give golf balls my Marshall blessing. It gets a good chuckle and even requests to bless sleeves of golf balls. I feel a bit like the Pope. And giving out candies on Halloween paid for out of my own budget.
  • Unlike Rodney Dangerfield I get respect. Respect is a two-way street. You have to earn it as a Marshall and the best way is find the laggards and get them sped up and go back to golfers behind them and letting them know you have asked for a “speed up”. They appreciate that and respect you because this shows you care about them. I suppose you can call this good service.
  • I am not the traditional grumpy old man Marshall. In all my years of playing golf my view of the Marshalls are that they are grumpy old men hiding behind the bushes and never engaging in conversation. They remind me of spies. If your only interaction with a Marshall is to be told to speed up what relationship can you have with the invisible man.
  • The compensation is miserable. At least I am getting paid half in cash and half in golf. Sneaky accounting indeed. However many Marshalls volunteer in exchange for free golf. However we all know very few things are free. Time for unionization.

Well I suppose its time to hibernate, Well not exactly as “Golf Cart Buddha” is coming your way focusing on mindfulness in golf as I am certified in mindfulness by the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. We will offer mindfulness training, yoga and meditation on course. Golf Marshall training and etiquette courses will be available. International and corporate sessions can be available. Food and beverage consulting as well. Franchise opportunities will be available.

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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