With the many questions that have been asked and the diverse difficulties which hinder the flow of play, at the same time affecting the life of the club member and reducing the pleasure that each person expects, it would seem essential to closely look at the role which a Marshal could play in the general organisation of a game – in friendly play but especially in a competition.
As we have seen the Marshal can intervene in all areas.
What is a Marshal ?
The Marshal is, first and foremost, a member of the club who voluntarily patrols the course to ensure the rhythm and duration of play and to answer the queries of players.
Generally, he is a long-standing member, is well acquainted with the rules of golf and has a sense of responsibility (carried over from his professional life). He knows all aspects of the course perfectly and applies himself to the service of the game and the players.
One of the first requirements for this function is the capacity to recognise players from a distance. Also important is his standing as a player, the way he handles competitions, his attitude in the clubhouse and his humility.
He must also be a reasonably good educator, which will give him the necessary authority : there are different ways of saying the same thing to a child, an adolescent, an adult or a senior. The message must pass with pertinent remarks – badly worded they are counter-productive and trouble players.
The Marshal is there to serve the game : he maintains the rhythm, the timing and the spirit of the game.
The Role of the Marshal
- He is an aid to ensure the smooth running of a competition and/or all its groups.
- He sets the timing for the competition and makes sure that it is respected.
- During competitions, it is in the interests of players to follow his instructions; they are a help to the game and the competition but are in no way a sanction.
- He communicates the timing and any possible incidents to the Captain at the end of each competition.
- The name(s) of the Marshal(s) taking care of a competition are announced a week in advance.
On the course, facing routine situations
A simple principle to ensure the acceptance of the presence of the Marshal during competitions :
“What happens on the course stays on the course.”
His knowledge of the players and the fact that they are used to his presence on the course means that this phrase works in 98% of interventions. The capability to anticipate, the personality and the playing handicap of the Marshal help a lot.
How do players see the Marshal ?
Players welcome the Marshal without too much trouble. The words “stress” and “fear” can be heard when he approaches a group but are more to do with a lack of application on the part of the player.
His arrival near a tee should always be before the first player has teed-off. Otherwise, the remaining players may think they are at a disadvantage because he is watching them.
Some other groups, not so used to the Marshal, may welcome him with less friendly words or phrases and this does not come from a lack of application to the game.
Regrettably, some players seem to think that the simple fact of playing gives them the right to say or do whatever they want. In these cases, we simply calm the players, bring their attention back to their game (and forget the unpleasant words).
The Marshal – French Version
Until now, the role has been more about keeping order in an absolute respect of golfing etiquette. This report is proof that the function has now evolved into that of a person responsible for the management of a competition. The Marshal is mentioned in all the chapters of this report as a coach and as the person players look to when there is an incident or problem on the course.
The role of Marshal should become an important function in the sporting management of a club. His work concerns first and foremost the member and, by extension, the green fees. The quality of the person chosen for this function is essential : training should take place so that no club has to suffer this punishment that is slow play.
I come back, again and always, to simplicity : I love this double-sided word; one side representing an action which is quick, fair and efficient and the other side the quality and the knowledge that one must possess to be a coach and not a sanction. The equivalent of the perfect swing !
The Marshal should be compared to the race director in the sports of motor-racing, sailing, horseracing, cycling : always in direct contact with the performers so that they can show their qualities in a secure environment.
For the moment, the President develops the club, the Captain is the judge when there are problems on the course (the 2%) and the Secretary takes care of the daily management. These three people decide and organise the sporting life of the club, but who is on the course two or three days a week to oversee the running of the competitions ? The Marshal.
With this new dimension,the Marshal is the missing link in the organisation. Now that we have identified the function, we should look for candidates and train them. We should interest each club in the function and they will look to the Federation. This is a constructive proposition that the Federation will find difficult to ignore.
There are always one or two people, with the right profile, who will find in this function the same pleasure that we have found during nine seasons.
And when I now pick up my clubs, I can assure you that it is with even more pleasure !
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