With school out and the local sports schedule relatively slow over the past couple of months, I’ve had the chance to find my way onto the golf course a bit more frequently as of late.
I have a question for those of you reading who play golf on a regular basis – has anybody else had an experience with an overzealous course marshall heaping blame on the wrong culprit for slow pace of play? Or just a rude course marshall in general looking to wield his power and seek out an argument for the sake of argument? I recently had a negative experience in that department that I’ll share in a moment.
Let me start by saying that I’m a terrible player, but I’m not a slow player. I play “ready golf”, and I’m ALWAYS thinking about keeping up the pace of play. I don’t take three different clubs from my bag before deciding on which to use, and I’m not one of those guys who takes eight practice swings before my shot. I’m a short hitter, but I generally hit it straight and keep it in play. On the rare occasion I do send a ball toward the trees or the water, I don’t waste much time looking for it. Go over to the general area, look around for about 30 seconds, and if I don’t see my ball, drop another one and take the penalty stroke. In short, I might take 100 strokes to wormburn, chip, and putt my way around the course, but I’m NEVER, EVER, EVER the reason for a slow pace of play, no matter how high the number is on my scorecard at the end of the day.
A couple of weeks ago I was playing in a foursome at…let’s just say “An Area Course”, to avoid giving anybody any bad publicity. Our group had a family in front of us consisting of a dad, mom, and two kids. The dad was basically using the course to give his kids a golf lesson. This is unbelieveably rude, in my opinion – seriously, could a person be more self absorbed and less considerate than that? The driving range is for teaching your kids to play, the course is for playing golf, period. At any rate, our pace of play crept to a snail’s pace behind the family in front of us.
Mercifully, the family left after nine holes (without ever offering to let us play through), so things opened up in front of us. We got to #11, a par-3, and decided to let the threesome behind us play through (the right thing to do). Mind you, these guys weren’t any better players than we were, but there were three of them and four of us, so common sense says let them play through. At that point, a course marshall or pro (young, unjustifiably cocky fellow) drove up in a cart, approached us with an accusatory attitude, and said something to the effect of “what are you guys doing – you can’t play with seven in a group!”
(Let me pause here to say this. Anybody with any shred of common sense whatsoever who sees seven guys around a green would conclude that there’s a foursome letting a threesome play through. Only a miserable, conflict seeking half-wit would jump to the conclusion that seven are playing in the same group.)
So…we explained to the Little General that we were a foursome allowing a group of three to play through, to which he responded “Well, there are three holes open in front of you guys – you need to speed it up.”
We then explained that we had an extremely slow family of four playing in front of us for the first nine holes, to which he responded “Well, when these three guys play through, I expect you to keep up with them.”
It was like having a conversation with a brick wall. Don’t know who the kid was (and he may be 35 years old, but I’m calling him a kid because he behaved like one – brash, cocky, and inconsiderate). What I do know is that in the current economic climate, the last thing any representative of any business should ever even think about doing is being rude to a paying customer. I don’t know anything about the current financial health of this particular course, but judging from its condition, I’d say the staff needs to focus its efforts on attracting more players to generate revenue as opposed to turning them away.
I understand that marshalling a golf course, much like refereeing or umpiring a game in other sports, is often a thankless job. I also understand that there are plenty of rude players these guys have to deal with on a daily basis, and that could lead one to adopt a defensive attitude over time. But it’s still your job to paint a smile on your face and always give every player you approach the benefit of the doubt, remembering all the while that the player is a paying customer who essentially pays your salary before you jump to the conclusion that he’s the cause of slow play. If you can’t embrace that mentality, then find another job – marshalling a golf course isn’t a vocation your personality is suited for.