The Marshal Experience

Before I get started I am going to apologise about the length of this post it is rather long.

So this post is going to be slightly different from my last few posts and is not going to be looking at a product but instead looking at my experience of marshalling at the men’s and women’s Scottish Opens at Dundonald links. This was my first experience of marshalling at an event and had no idea what it was going to be like so hopefully this can provide some of you with an insight in to what happens and maybe encourage you to give it a try.
So first things first how did I get involved, as a teacher with long summer holidays I had been thinking of things I could do to keep be busy during the holidays and then remembered that the Scottish Open was on at Dundonald Links which isn’t too far away from where I stay so a quick Google search got me onto the website. I then found the section for volunteers and downloaded The application forms for both the marshal and the scorers. I applied for both positions and ended up hearing back from the marshals first so that is why I was a marshal rather than a score board carrier. Even though I was not from one of the local clubs which were responsible for organising the volunteers they still took me as they were in need of more volunteers so don’t be put off if you are not from one of the linked clubs.

After hearing back from them to say that they had accepted my application, around the end of February I believe, I had a few emails as the months went on letting me know what group I was in and other various details. Next thing I knew it was 2 weeks before the Open and I still had very little idea of what I was going to be doing apart from what holes I was going to be on, however this ended up changing anyway.
The next thing to happen was the briefing on the Sunday before the Open where we were to collect our kit and find out a bit more of what was happening. On my arrival when I went to sign in I was greeted with an unexpected surprise I was no longer in the group I was originally meant to be in they had changed my group. I think as I was not associated with one of the local clubs I got switched to the group with the least number of volunteers. I then got handed my pass and a sticker with my kit size so I could get the correct kit, or so I thought. Kit in hand I went and grabbed a seat to listen to the briefing, which in all honesty was not very useful as it was all just common knowledge really.
After the briefing I headed for home and this is where things get interesting, when I had been handed my kit at the briefing I had had a quick look at the size and it was correct. However what I had failed to check was that they had given me the correct sex, when I pulled the polo out something looked wrong I couldn’t place it at first and then I noticed the slightly lower neck and extra buttons. It then hit me that I had been given a women’s polo rather than a men’s. So first thing I do is email the head marshal who tells me it is fine and I will get the correct one on my first day.


So I turn up on my first day wearing one of my own golf polos just incase anything happened which I had a slight feeling something might. Low and behold when I go and try and swap my polo I get told they don’t have any apart from XL which would look like a duvet on me. Was I surprised, no not really I had a sneaking suspicion this might happen however I was still annoyed. Anyway I put this behind me and head off to get a cup of tea (which was complimentary) before the day starts.

So enough about my bad luck with clothing issues on to the bit that actually matters, the different jobs. There may be other jobs but there were 4 mains jobs I came across: crossing control, ball spotting, tee control and green control.
The most enjoyable of these was definitely ball spotting while you didn’t get to talk to as many people you did get to see plenty of action and shots being played. The downside, you felt under pressure to find golf balls that went into the rough. As the name suggests you were responsible for spotting the balls as they landed in the landing zones.
Crossing Control
Depending on your crossing this could either be a fun job or a stressful job. For the crossings that weren’t near a green you were fine as you would just let the public through once the golfers had passed and then put the rope back up as the next lot of golfers approached there ball. Simple. However if you were near a green you had issues as the golfers would often complain that the movement put them off so you couldn’t let them through while they were on the green and as soon as there was a back up in play this meant that you were struggling for a chance to let people through as there would be golfers waiting to hit there approach shots and others on the green, not a good situation. That being said majority of spectators understand however it’s just a lot of repeating yourself.
Green Control
Quite a good job to get, you get to see quite a bit of action and don’t need to do much. You are responsible for ensuring everyone is quiet and that there is minimal movement while they are putting or lining up puts on the green. The downside if it’s a raised green it can be hard to see them putting and all you see is there upper body.
Tee Control
A role of 2 parts, if you are on the tee box perfect you get to watch the pros tee off and all you need to do is indicate the direction of the ball and keep the spectators relatively quiet. If however you are one of the unlucky souls (which I was for an hour or so) you have to stand behind or beside the tee box to stop people who are walking up to or around the tee box moving while they are teeing off. This often means you have a row of spectators in between you and the pros so you don’t get to see any of the golf you just see the backs of heads and the top of the back swing and follow through, not very exciting I will be honest.
The majority of the roles are enjoyable and if your zone is run correctly you will get to sample all the different roles. This is not always the case though some aren’t run as well as others it’s just the luck of the draw.
One of the final perks of being a marshal at the Scottish Open this year was that we also got a complimentary round of golf on the course. Which is definitely a nice wee bonus and I will document that when it happens.
Overall though I would highly recommend volunteering for the Scottish Open if it is at a course near you or you’re like me and have the summers off. I have heard The Open is a different experience though due to the much higher number of spectators that attend.
For those of you that made it the full way through this post well done.
Thanks again and happy golfing.


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