Journal Entry #35
June 28, 2004

Tournament List & List Your Tournament
Colorado Springs Golf Course Information

(warning! This journal entry is long, five pages, but it may qualify you to be a marshal some day)

On Saturday, June 19, 2004 I journeyed to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Denver Tech Center to get my volunteer uniform for THE INTERNATIONAL golf tournament and take marshal training. Since this is my first professional tournament to be involved in, I needed training. Craig Perkins, a 17-year volunteer veteran did a great job teaching the class. To follow is what I learned and found very interesting and I hope you will too. After you read this information maybe it will inspire you to volunteer in a tournament coming your way.

THE INTERNATIONAL golf tournament is one of the favorites of playing professionals. One reason is because of the way the tournament is run, to a great extent the volunteers, and how they do their jobs. Another reason, I have heard, is that with the modified Stabelford scoring system they can let it all hang out and go for broke on every shot. Strategy does not play a big part in the game. This does not mean the tournament is casual. Every shot counts, and a high degree of concentration is required. That's where marshals come into play.

The expectations of marshals is simple. First have a good time, have fun and enjoy your work enough to return the next year and the next and the next. Second is to do your job correctly.

What to wear and what to bring is the uniform specified for your duties. Comfortable shoes are encouraged and fanny packs are optional; however, you are encouraged to take as little with you as possible. Don't forget your photo ID badge. No badge, no entry. You will not be allowed on the property unless you are dressed properly including your photo ID badge. No substituting. If you substitute an issued piece of clothing, you will be out of there. You will not be allowed to participate.

Also, you will want to bring a supply of white golf tees. More about that later.

An umbrella, especially during August in Colorado, is an option to consider; however, keep in mind that an umbrella means that is one more thing you have to keep track of. A good rule, according to Craig, is that if there is a 40% plus forecast for rain, an umbrella might be a sensible option. Also, umbrellas are not allowed unless play is halted. Right, go tell the gallery that. Anyway, as a marshal you obey the rules. No play halting, no umbrella. Just enjoy the rain.

Bring money. Good idea anytime, any place. It is suggested that you eat breakfast even though you will get meal tickets for both breakfast and lunch when on duty. The breakfast is basically just orange juice and muffins. Lunch tickets have a value, maybe like $11.00 for a sandwich or a burger, chips, and a drink. Additional meal tickets may be provided if rain or other delays push the finishing times to justify doing so. The drink of choice will probably be bottled water. As to water during the day, it is available for players and marshals on most tee or green areas.

Lastly, the little seat. Here again remember to take as little with you as you can. If you must sit, try a soft spot of grass. My thought is maybe fold up and put a plastic garbage bag in your pocket in case that spot of grass is wet. Or, if you sit in a wet spot just be ready for giggles as you walk around with a wet tush. Oh, I just remembered, marshal trousers are dark or gun metal green, so you will just be uncomfortable.

Getting to Castle Pines is important because if you can't find the place you can't participate, duh! I won't cover this because volunteers are coming from all directions. Parking is in the same area as spectators and everyone is bussed in. At THE INTERNATIONAL busses go to either the front or back nine. When people load on the busses they are advised that cell phones, cameras, back packs and smoking is not allowed on the course. Of course John Daley will probably be consuming one on just about every shot, but we won't be enforcing that rule with him.

Where to meet and times to meet. This is up to the marshal captain at each hole. My captain is Sam Parker. She'll probably have us out a little early for some more training. We are assigned the #12 signature hole at Castle Pines. Right; I'll bet all the captains say that about their holes. At the meetings there may be new instructions, and this is where you get your meal tickets. The length of shifts will vary and some are long and some are not. At THE INTERNATIONAL Wednesday is a long day with a shotgun start at 7:00am, as is Thursday and Friday with scheduled tee times on both number one and number 10. Saturday and Sunday, after the field is cut, shifts are shorter. Hole marshal captains do the scheduling.

How to marshal. Finally, I'm getting there, how to marshal. I tried to get my wife, Marilynn, to marshal too, but she said she would not be comfortable telling people what to do. She reserves that right for me…. telling me what to do. Our teacher, Craig, feels the same way about his wife. He enjoys telling people what to do at tournaments, since his wife takes that prerogative at home. I think they call that being married. Anyway, a marshal stands about an arms length inside the ropes where the spectators station themselves. No spectator legs, arms, or any other part of their anatomy is allowed inside the ropes. A marshal's job includes being amiable with the crowd. It's okay to tell jokes, answer questions, flirt, be congenial, etc. etc. The marshal's job is not to be bossy, but is to relate to the crowd and win their cooperation. Also, marshals should have the courtesy to position themselves, as much as possible, not to block spectator views.

At greenside marshals need to be out of the line of sight of players and always be still and quite at appropriate times, same as spectators are expect to be.

Marshals have a set dialog or script to follow with the crowd, and this dialog must be delivered at the appropriate times. Here is my dialog. "Stand please, quiet please." Great dialog, what? When I got home from training, that's the first thing I practiced with my wife, saying "stand please and quiet please" with my arms outstretched with palms out like I'm going to block a Kobe Bryant set shot. I guess I can use Kobe as an example since he is almost a Colorado resident being here so often. Marshals are supposed to face the crowd and not the players. Now you may be thinking that sounds easy. Well, when do you do your "stand please" and "quiet please?" It's a science and requires concentration and commitment. Here it is. Ready?

All professional golfers do the same thing when they are ready to make a shot or put. They take a few practice swings. You with me? What's next? They walk behind the ball and take a line sight to where whey want it to go. At that moment, what? "Stand please." This is supposed to stop everyone's movement. Now I have not been to too many professional golf tournaments, so "stand please" did not resonate with me when Craig first said it, but it makes sense. I suppose to veteran tournament goers it is as understood as "fore" is to the rest of us. Okay, now we have everyone stopped in their tracks. The "quiet please" comes the moment the pro gets set beside the ball to make the shot desired. That is to say, when he addresses the ball.

Crowd and marshal movement is very important, and it is all about timing. One of the mistakes marshals often make is when they take their breaks or rotate their positions, they not be conscious of what's going on in the field of play. This is where marshals must marshal themselves.

There are exceptions when it comes to cameras. CBS, which carries the tournament on television, can just about do no wrong, as far as marshals are concerned. We don't even volunteer or suggest to them to follow the rules because money talks. This goes for legitimate news photographers as well. Usually they are experienced enough not to click their cameras until players have made contact with their ball. Grounds crews also have complete access, but they are seldom visible except in special cases as needed.

Marshal responsibilities are many. Yes, marshals are enforcers, but gently. Remember, we win over the crowd. If we come across spectators with cameras, cell phones, back packs, coolers, lounge chairs and smoking we use our gentle persuasion to encourage them to refrain from breaking the rules and preferably get them to skedaddle away. Of course, if they are as inconsiderate as you are considerate and get in your face, you might have to signal for security. Security will most likely confiscate the offending item, not the spectator, and give them a claim ticket to pick up their offending item as they depart the tournament.

Finding errant golf balls is an important responsibility of marshals, which the players appreciate…sometimes. A ball in the rough must be found within five minutes or it is declared a lost ball. In some cases, players may prefer a lost ball and ignore your ability to find their ball. There you are with a smile on your face because you found a ball in a bush with no chance of a clean shot out. That's another story for a later time.

If a ball goes in the water or in a stream and it commences to flow down the creek, leave it alone and don't let anyone rescue it as their souvenir. The marshal's job is to know at what point the ball entered the water. The line of flight, if you may. That's your job as well when shots go into the rough.

In the rough it's your job to note the line of flight and concentrate on where the ball is likely to end up. As a courtesy, marshals do not go ball seeking until all players have teed off or completed their subsequent shots. Another cardinal rule is to never pick up a ball, never, period. Marshals also stay at their assigned side of the fairway or green. If a ball is not found in a couple of minutes when the search is on, they may go across the fairway to assist and then scurry back to their assigned position when the ball is found or a ruling is made. Main thing is to find the ball and secure the area.

In the rough, two marshals may be needed, one to secure the ball and the other to control the crowd. If two are needed to secure the line of flight from the ball in the rough, one will do so on one side and then the one securing the ball will go to the other side as soon as the player arrives. This is best done with a roving marshal if one is available.

What if a ball lands in someone's lap, purse, blouse (it has happened)? The marshal's job is to make sure both the person and the ball remain still until the player and rules official arrive.

Pulling poles is a solitary responsibility of marshals. This is where those white tees comes in handy. Let's say a player fades a shot into the rough or into the woods. Those poles that hold the ropes along the course may be an obstruction too. Now the trees and links grass cannot be moved, but the poles and ropes, not being natural, can be. When a marshal sees that the poles and ropes may be in the player's line, the poles may be pulled up and placed on the ground. When the shot is made the poles must be put back into the exact holes from which they came. Finding those holes is quite a challenge and routinely cannot be found. That's what the white tees are for. When you pull the pole you are well advised to stick several white tees around the hole from which the pole was removed.

So, you think you know all about the rules of golf? Doesn't matter. It's a big no no to interpret rules for any player. They may ask you, but you can't answer their inquiry. In fact, you can't even suggest they ask for a ruling. You can tell a player if their ball is out of bounds. It is also important to know who the golfer is. Hint. Read the sign being carried behind the golfer. I don't know why you need to know this because you don't have any means of communication. The marshal hole captain has that. Anyway, the rationale is that the more prominent players will get quicker attention from rules officials. I guess that is like the top pro basketball players being allowed six or eight steps on their lay up shots. Or, rank has its privilege.

There are signals marshals can use. Sort of like Y, M, C, A at an Avalanche hockey game. Hands held together over the head means "help, security get over here quick." Hands crossed above your head means "Ouch, someone needs medical attention." Arms spread out from the shoulders, like you are about to fly, means, "the guy needs a rules official."

Golfwatch. Golfwatch? I had never heard of this, but as I understand, it's like being a VIP, a special class of citizens who goes to the front of the line at Disneyland. These folks have special lanes, special seats, and special whatever they please, within spectator rules. They are well connected by way of heavy sponsorships. After all, spectator tickets do not provide all of the funds needed to put up millions of dollars in prize money that makes the high level of competition we all expect possible. These special folks can be clearly identified by both wristbands and laminated neck or lanyard IDs. Believe it or not some of these special people may try to get a two for one benefit. That is, they will give one of the two identifying items to a friend and keep one for themselves. When that happens marshals have to once again use their gentle persuasion to explain the rules. No two Ids, no special privilege. This is the only time marshals can fuss at them but must do it gently.

So you want to being your camera? After all, you paid some big bucks to stroll with the pros. There are times you can take that once in a lifetime shot of your favorite pro. Also, you have always wanted Ernie's autograph. There is a time for relaxed interaction and making your dreams come true. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Those are the preliminary rounds, and players are approachable then. Come Thursday morning, its all business, things get serious, and rules are strongly enforced in an amiable way by marshals, of course.

Marshal hole captains know evacuation plans, and this is explained the first day to their team. The plans direct players and spectators where to go when conditions direct, like lightening and baseball size hail stones. Generally, when weather conditions become severe and play is halted players return to their tee if only one shot has been taken. And now you can put up your umbrella if you have one.

By John K. Darling, Founder

To volunteer for the 2008 Senior Open click here.