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Slow Play-Marshalling

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I worked a long time in the golf industry. One thing I see severely lacking these days is good Marshalling. Here are some of my suggestions, feel free to add your own.

 

 

Guide to Good Marshalling

First and foremost, it starts at the Pro Shop. They need to tell groups what is expected of them: Less than 15 minutes per hole and keep up with the group in front of you.

Marshals should always carry; 4 little flags, extra balls and a tee sheet. When they see an open hole on the golf course, you don't just pull up and say “you're a hole behind, get moving” then pull away. They should say “I noticed a gap in front of you, I'll do my best to help you catch up but if you can't, you'll need to skip a hole”. Then stay with the group and help find errant balls (or give them one out of your basket), rake bunkers and possibly give yardages until they catch up. If they don't catch up, never let the group behind play through, that only slows down everything behind. Simply ask them to skip a hole. Yes, they will probably be offended, but would you rather offend 4 slow players or the 50 behind them that are getting more annoyed by the minute. If they refuse to skip a hole, I like to offer them a certificate for a free round another day. We never honored these certificates on the weekend or holidays when we are busy.

​Side Note, I would tell my Marshals that if they got caught picking up more golf balls then trash, they would be fired. I thought it was working until I found out that they would simply stop at a trash can on the course and put a bunch in their cart.

 

 

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There are right ways and wrong ways of encouraging a group to speed up.  A marshal who knows the game should know this, and the etiquette appropriate for the approach, the discussion and the follow-thru. 

 

You mentioned flags- our club has a flag system- Yellow flag means you are behind (out of position by at least one group).  The verbal advice comes first, the second is the yellow flag at the tee box.  The next (which amounts to the third warning) is the black flag, requiring the group to skip a hole to catch up.  Refusal to do this results in suspension from the club- whether or not you finish that round.  The marshal should know who is in each group (he/she has a tee sheet) and can figure out who is who, and where the problem is.  Clearly this is easier said in a private club than on a muni, but I have seen it work just as effectively on public courses.

 

As for approach, that is a very important part of the marshal's job.  We had a marshal approach my group as we were making the turn.  We were approaching the 10th green at 1 hour, 42 minutes from our tee time, so we were on a fairly good clip, having made the turn in just under 1.5 hours.  He came up in his cart- we were all walkers- and yells at us "you need to pick up the pace, there is a hole open in front of you!"  Now he was correct, there was a hole open in front of us, of the two groups that tee'd off in front of us on the first tee, the first was a threesome, moving pretty well, and the second was a twosome, who peeled off after 9. 

 

I immediately called the pro shop -both to let them know that the marshal was incorrect, but also of his attitude-  Had he come over and asked what time we tee'ed off, or bothered to ask who we were and looked on the sheet to see, he would have realized something had happened, and any of us could have explained that the group in front departed after 9, etc. 

 

That is why I mentioned attitude and experience as a golfer being a critical part of being a good marshal. 

 

Thanks for your comments!!

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I once played a busy muni that had a time clock like you would see for work. We "clocked in" just before first tee ball flew, "clocked out" at the turn and "clocked out" again at the end. The course claimed they keep the time cards, and if you were more than 15-20 minutes over time two rounds in a row, you were not allowed to play for some period of time. It was a pretty hard core experience, but we moved at a pretty good clip. I don't know that that is really a good answer, but it was effective. I think all these things only get you so far if there aren't real consequences, whether marshalling or whatever. I know I get really sick of being being the slow people that don't seem to even walk with a sense of urgency between shots when they have to know they are off pace.

 

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My wife and I played at a course in St. George UT several years ago.  We were riding and we played with a local who was walking.  We played the front nine in 2.5 hours, mostly because of one hole; a par 3 over a gorge.  There were three groups on the tee at one time, so I thought 2.5 hours was a pretty good time.  The single was only going to play nine holes, but we had a great time together so he decided to play the back nine.

 

Most of the groups in front of us quit after nine holes, so we had clear sailing starting on 10.  About halfway down 10, the marshal comes up to us and says we have to pick up the pace... the men's gangsome is going to be teeing off behind us.  He dogged us for three holes.  I decided to slow down and play deliberately.  On a par 3 with an island green, he went behind the green to watch us tee off.  There was only one way in and out of the green area and I blocked him in with my cart, then proceeded to finish out the hole very slowly.  When we got to #14, we never saw him again.  BTW, we never saw the gangsome group either.

 

The local kept apologizing, saying he had never seen a marshal do that before.  I think it was because my wife was playing.  Marshals ALWAYS assume that women are the slow players in a group.  Even with my deliberately slow play, we finished the round in 4.5 hours, 30 minutes faster on the back.  My wife was so pissed, she went into the pro shop and complained to the head pro.  His position??  "Too bad.  You are a visitor here, tomorrow you are gone.  I have to keep the men's gangsome happy every day."  I won't be going back there ever again, so he was right about that.

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I just don't get the idea of marshaling (I do but for arguments sake).

If someone is struggling and you tell them to hurry up it's not like the person is going to instantly become Dustin Johnson. I can't imagine a person is trying to be bad and slow play down.

I see this a lot on public courses especially. A ranger comes up, tells a group to speed up, and then the next thing we know the people are so nervous they're playing worse than when they were told to hurry up.

I just don't understand what a person is supposed to do, be so guilt ridden that they are playing slow that they should pick up and walk off the course.

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This weekend I had a noon tee time. Starter sends us to the tee a couple of Minutes early and we start to tee off. The last person is teeing of and it is right at noon and the starter walks over and tells us to pick up the pace because groups are waiting. Just amazing; sometimes you just have to wonder if the marshalls know how to identify and control slow play

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There is one rule to help avoid slow play, keep up with the group in front of you. Yes there are holes where we look for a ball or 2, but that's no excuse to fall behind. If you keep up with the group in front of you there will never be a problem. The biggest problem area for slow play is on the greens. There are to many people putting everything out. I've seen where a guy has a 1 foot putt on a Saturday fun day, and marks the ball and putts out. Why? We can invoke our own "rules" for play, and gimmes is a good way to help. If you are worried about the money at the end of the round, then you are playing for too much money in your group.

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There is one rule to help avoid slow play, keep up with the group in front of you. Yes there are holes where we look for a ball or 2, but that's no excuse to fall behind. If you keep up with the group in front of you there will never be a problem. The biggest problem area for slow play is on the greens. There are to many people putting everything out. I've seen where a guy has a 1 foot putt on a Saturday fun day, and marks the ball and putts out. Why? We can invoke our own "rules" for play, and gimmes is a good way to help. If you are worried about the money at the end of the round, then you are playing for too much money in your group.

 

Exactly and if they can't keep pace they should allow for players behind to play through. Another time saver is to set a limit of strokes say double or triple bogey and then pick up and move on.  No need to keep hacking away when people are standing in the fairway waiting to hit their approach shots. If you're learning and you want to count every single shot to see how you are progressing, allow faster groups through.

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There is one rule to help avoid slow play, keep up with the group in front of you. Yes there are holes where we look for a ball or 2, but that's no excuse to fall behind. If you keep up with the group in front of you there will never be a problem. The biggest problem area for slow play is on the greens. There are to many people putting everything out. I've seen where a guy has a 1 foot putt on a Saturday fun day, and marks the ball and putts out. Why? We can invoke our own "rules" for play, and gimmes is a good way to help. If you are worried about the money at the end of the round, then you are playing for too much money in your group.

If a member of my group lost a ball and I'm not too far ahead of them and the group isn't in our way, I will hit my shot then walk over and help look. And unless there is a decent break to the putt, if the course is crowded I'll just pick up 15" or so

 

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I have found that one of the most effective ways to gain on a group if a foursome has fallen behind is to have each player exit the green immediately upon finishing a hole, proceed to the next tee and tee off. By the time the last person holes out on the previous hole, at least two tee shots are already done on the next. This works really well with a walking foursome, not so well in a match... YMMV.

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I think there are lots of ways to catch up after falling behind, ready golf, pick up on the greens. If you maintain a GHIN or similar hcp, pick after reaching your max ESC. It doesn't mean you always have to, just do some of these things until you catch up. Looking for a ball can also take time, maybe if you are behind, you don't look for the ball, just take a drop and move along until you catch up. We're all out to have fun, but getting stuck behind slow play can be annoying and not fun. If we all do our part to keep up with the group in front, it makes for a more fun day for everyone.

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Maybe get rid of the crabby old man marshall and get someone who has a clue what they are doing.

 

What really gets me is when the group I'm in is walking and the group in front and behind us are in carts. Of course they are going to be faster. I laugh when ranger rick tells us to hurry up. What does he expect us to do, run between shots?

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There is one rule to help avoid slow play, keep up with the group in front of you. Yes there are holes where we look for a ball or 2, but that's no excuse to fall behind. If you keep up with the group in front of you there will never be a problem. The biggest problem area for slow play is on the greens. There are to many people putting everything out. I've seen where a guy has a 1 foot putt on a Saturday fun day, and marks the ball and putts out. Why? We can invoke our own "rules" for play, and gimmes is a good way to help. If you are worried about the money at the end of the round, then you are playing for too much money in your group.

In my weekly walking group there is one guy that putts everything out, and he does the same routine for every putt, even short ones.  He is deliberate, and he makes most putts less than 5 feet.  Whenever he putts a long one and leaves a putt that's less than a couple of feet, I will knock it back to him, saying it's good.  I know he gets a little perturbed when I do that, but it saves 30 seconds every time I do it.

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In my weekly walking group there is one guy that putts everything out, and he does the same routine for every putt, even short ones. He is deliberate, and he makes most putts less than 5 feet. Whenever he putts a long one and leaves a putt that's less than a couple of feet, I will knock it back to him, saying it's good. I know he gets a little perturbed when I do that, but it saves 30 seconds every time I do it.

Exactly. You almost have to force them to pick the ball up. Unless it's a touney round or something like that gimmes should almost always be done. Especially on days where the course is full. The bad thing is that they don't see that they are he cause of the slow play.

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Reading this provides and interesting dilemma. People are advocating picking up "gimmie" putts. But then post about a persons handicap not being accurate. Do you post your rounds with gimmie putts as a handicap round?

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Looking for balls and putting out putts is seldom the culprit that causes slow play. The muni I play each week is one of the busiest in the country and only foursomes are allowed to play most days (especially Fri-Sun).

 

The biggest cause of slow play is people who wait for each person to hit rather than going to their ball and getting ready. Ready golf us important to pace of play. Those groups who cluster all four around each shot cause huge delays.

 

Our rangers consult clock and chart for each group as they drive around.

 

Another huge time sink is waiting for the guy hacking through the rough until the next guy is away. Get to your ball and play unless its directly in someones shot line.

 

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Slow play is a tough thing to fix. Everyday at our course we have a few groups that are really slow. If you find yourself behind them you know you're in for a long day. They play golf like sheep, all of them go to each ball instead of their own. On the greens they don't check out their own putt until it is their turn. Problem is everyone knows this including the marshals yet nothing is ever said. It's a sad state of affairs but what can you do when nobody seems to care.

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Maybe get rid of the crabby old man marshall and get someone who has a clue what they are doing.

 

What really gets me is when the group I'm in is walking and the group in front and behind us are in carts. Of course they are going to be faster. I laugh when ranger rick tells us to hurry up. What does he expect us to do, run between shots?

I've actually let a couple walking, play through when I was with a group. We were using carts, as one of us has health issues and can't walk. We never caught them. I was impressed.

 

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Reading this provides and interesting dilemma. People are advocating picking up "gimmie" putts. But then post about a persons handicap not being accurate. Do you post your rounds with gimmie putts as a handicap round?

We are talking about slow play, and ways to speed it up, I'm all for putting out, but when your routine is 2 minutes long even on a 1 foot putt, you have added 36 needless minutes to your round and Everyone else's round. Yes we post rounds with gimme putts. it actually hurts your cap, its anti-Sandbagging.

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Looking for balls and putting out putts is seldom the culprit that causes slow play. The muni I play each week is one of the busiest in the country and only foursomes are allowed to play most days (especially Fri-Sun).

 

The biggest cause of slow play is people who wait for each person to hit rather than going to their ball and getting ready. Ready golf us important to pace of play. Those groups who cluster all four around each shot cause huge delays.

 

Our rangers consult clock and chart for each group as they drive around.

 

Another huge time sink is waiting for the guy hacking through the rough until the next guy is away. Get to your ball and play unless its directly in someones shot line.

 

Sent from my SM-G920V using MyGolfSpy mobile app

I think in some cases your right, but my experience here is that play comes to a standstill on the green, that's where the time is lost when we play.

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