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Matt Schoolfield

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OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« on: September 12, 2023, 07:20:57 PM »
I think a discussion of what makes effective Marshals and Starters effective is a discussion worth having. This thought came from a discussion in a previous thread, so here's the comment:

Quote
I think an off-topic discussion of marshals/starters interaction strategy could be fascinating. I certainly know it's an impossible job to police your own customers, but I think it's a place where courses with the budgets could really benefit from highly skilled people to handle these situations.

I know one of my fondest memories of my visit to Pasatiempo was that the starter seemingly-genuine interested in the idea behind the wiki, and walked me through every hole, giving me incredible notes, and pointing out on the map I'd printed out where these features were. I'm very proud of the course guide that came out of that 10 minute conversation, even if it's had a few edits from kind strangers in the last year-and-a-half.

The starter at Northwood had exactly the opposite reaction. When I started explaining the project, he moaned "just tell me what you're trying to sell already." I told him that I wasn't selling him anything, and the point was that the guides are free and could be helpful to players, handed him what I had, and just walked away.

I've have very similar reactions in groups suffering from pace issues. Getting barked at because "we're two holes behind" after a group ahead of us quits because of slow pace, while at other courses, having a marshal talk to me, realize I'm a thoughtful, 20+ year player, and basically working with me to encourage my foursome to pick up the pace. I've had friends yelled at... at beginners' par-3 courses, for not having perfect etiquette. It's wild how much these interactions affect or impress me.

If I ever end up working at a course, it'll be a focus of mine. I know that the starter and the marshal wield so much outsized power that when I see a course that has a thoughtful starter/marshal, I make a mental note, because I suspect that thoughtfulness will exist in other nuanced corners of the business.

I haven't thought too much about it. I'm genuinely interested in folks' thoughts here.
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Rob Marshall

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2023, 07:23:01 PM »
In my experience at private clubs they are useless. However, if you send the head Pro out he can get the groups attention.
If life gives you limes, make margaritas.” Jimmy Buffett

John Kavanaugh

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2023, 07:44:49 PM »
Weed is essential. Bandon has the best. Marshals.

Tal Oz

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2023, 11:15:43 PM »
John, you started a haiku


Weed is essential.
Puff puff pass. Play well play fast.
Bandon has the best. Marshals.




Peter Sayegh

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2023, 04:16:38 PM »
Matt,I don't know if I've ever played a course (I play mainly in MB and PH) in which the starter and marshal are both present and in "sync."
For me, starters have the greatest impact on your round. "Marshals" tend to be part-time guys only riding in a cart till the next time they can play at a discounted rate. I've yet to see a group be "marshalled". That's been my experience.
I've played Tobacco Road 15-20 times. They educate their starters. Before you tee it up they offer you guidance, info...and expectations.

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2023, 05:19:43 PM »
...and expectations.
I never thought about this. Probably an underrated way to stave off any negative reviews for unexpected things that come up.
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Ed Galbavy

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2023, 09:59:15 PM »
I was a starter/Players Assistant at Kiawah for 2 1/2 years.  I really enjoyed working at Kiawah.  Had some good perks that had some strings attached.  Could only get a teetime the day of.  We got discounts in the golf shops.


as far as the job itself, we had about as much authority on the golf course as a WWE referee.  Kiawah is foremost, a golf resort.  Anything that comes across as negative was frowned upon.  First thing, 7am in the morning, the PA drove out to the par 3's and filled in divots from the day before.  Then you drove the fairways back to front filling in divots until you came upon the first groups.  You had a chart on your clipboard that had a matrix corresponding to the tee time and the hole that the group was on that showed what time that they should be at.  I always opened up with asking them if they needed any water, which I had in my cooler.  Then asked how things were going.  Majority of the time you got waved off.  Only when there was a gap in play, you had to interact.  You take into account the size of the groups, and you watched and tried to help out when you can.


Most of the time, if you asked the slow groups to pick up the pace a little, you wound up getting the stink eye from the group.  Or you would get lectured by the leader of the group about how much they know about golf and how little you know.  This is even after showing them the chart that showed them that they were 30 minutes behind pace and that there are two open holes in front of them.  After leaving them, I then go to the groups that they are holding up and listen to the bitching behind them and hear that I need to "do something" about the slow pace of play.  We do note on our clipboards the time when each and every group makes the turn and whether they are on pace or not.  So for the most part, we monitor the best we can.


The next rant will be about the Friday afternoon bachelor parties that we try to keep under control.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2023, 09:42:48 PM by Ed Galbavy »

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2023, 12:12:06 AM »
Oxymoron.


IME.  (In my experience).
Let's make GCA grate again!

Sean_A

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2023, 03:11:23 AM »
Generally, when I see a starter, I think excess baggage. A part of modern golf which should eliminated.

It seems to me that the number one role of the starter is to distract golfers until their assigned tee time. I never appreciate the speech. For sure, if there is going to be a starter interacting with golfers, they should give out the goodie bag.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Winterfield & Alnmouth

Thomas Dai

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2023, 06:34:37 AM »
If there is to be a Starter on the 1st tee they should at the very least ask each player to empty their pockets. No pitchmark repairer, back to the proshop to buy one or else no teeing-off.
Mind bit like if a Marshall tries to intervene in pace of play given the way respect for authority has declined in society over the decades they'd probably be ignored or punched or told to get lost.
atb

Peter Sayegh

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2023, 10:41:45 AM »
Generally, when I see a starter, I think excess baggage. A part of modern golf which should eliminated.

It seems to me that the number one role of the starter is to distract golfers until their assigned tee time. I never appreciate the speech. For sure, if there is going to be a starter interacting with golfers, they should give out the goodie bag.

Ciao
Guess you've been across the pond for too long now to comment on US publics/munis.
A competent starter is often the only/best ambassador at the places I frequent.

Jerry Kluger

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2023, 03:09:48 PM »
The problem with marshals is twofold: first, they usually don't get to a slow group until it is too late for them to play fast enough to catch up with the group in front of them and second, they look at a suggested time schedule and even if a group is substantially behind the group in front of them so long as they are within the guideline then they are told not to say anything. 

Tim Gavrich

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2023, 09:33:28 AM »

The best and most important starters tend to be at munis and blue-collar public courses, in my experience. They pair up odd-sized groups and help introduce people who will be playing together who don't have a readymade foursome. At private clubs and resorts, the vibe is different and starters there are basically greeters, which is not unimportant but is definitely a more laid-back role. At any venue they should help set the tone for the pace of play. I was once held hostage by a starter at Baywood Greens in Delaware who went on for about 10 minutes about every minute detail of playing the course. He meant well but I think he would still be walking me through each shot of the last couple of holes if I hadn't cut him off, thanked him and headed to the tee.


Marshals are a net-neutral at worst, in my experience. Usually the lackluster ones are just in it for the free golf, which means they're likely not being paid enough to take their role seriously and/or there's just no accountability. An ineffective golf course worker is generally a symptom of lazy management but I don't think I've ever come across a starter or marshal who was actually a noticeable hindrance to the experience.
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Ben Sims

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2023, 10:09:29 AM »
Recently a group of four of us played a CCFAD here in CO. We showed to the first tee 6 minutes early. Fairway was clear. I threw my peg in the ground and addressed the ball and a cart comes up quickly.


(Never getting out of his cart) “Hey guys, y’all played here before?”


Yes sir we have.


“Okay well I’ll give you the quick spiel then.”


(Three minutes later)….


“…and as you know pace of play is 4:20 for a foursome.”


My buddy kind of grins and says “thanks. Would’ve been a lot easier if we had that three minutes back.” Starter smirks and turns his cart and heads back to his hidden shady spot. We finish teeing off a few minutes later, 2 plus minutes after the appointed time. That time is lost, gone. 


I’m not saying this guy is a bad fella. He’s been taught to do this. The disease of more hits public golf in the US like an insidious infection that never goes away. Thousands of course employees think about how to affect their pace of play and they never consider taking away things/people/stuff. Blows my mind.


« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 10:29:31 AM by Ben Sims »

Niall C

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2023, 11:23:43 AM »
If there is to be a Starter on the 1st tee they should at the very least ask each player to empty their pockets. No pitchmark repairer, back to the proshop to buy one or else no teeing-off.
atb


Personally I'd ban pitchmark repairers. From a UK perspective I sometimes wonder if players digging up pitch marks with pitchmark repairers do more damage than just leaving the pitchmark be. IME using a tee to stab around the pitchmark to soften the earth and then to gently ease the earth back in the way is better than levering or digging up the compressed earth.


Back on topic. I agree with Sean, my heart sinks a little when I see a starter. An unnecessary and sometimes irritating add-on. If there is something you need to know about the course then they can make you aware of it when you check in.


Niall

Erik J. Barzeski

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2023, 01:15:45 PM »
Personally I'd ban pitchmark repairers. From a UK perspective I sometimes wonder if players digging up pitch marks with pitchmark repairers do more damage than just leaving the pitchmark be. IME using a tee to stab around the pitchmark to soften the earth and then to gently ease the earth back in the way is better than levering or digging up the compressed earth.
That's not "using a pitch mark repairer" as much as it is "using a pitch mark repairer incorrectly." A pitch mark repair tool used properly is more effective than a tee.

A local superintendent put this together many years ago, and I encourage others to check it out. I'm not saying it's the best for all grasses or greens, but the general advice here is better than how most try to repair greens:
https://thesandtrap.com/media/misc/repairing_ball_marks.pdf
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, Instructor/Coach, and Lifetime Student of the Game.

I generally ignore Rob, Tim, and Garland.

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2023, 02:53:14 PM »
A local superintendent put this together many years ago, and I encourage others to check it out.

Very interesting. This goes into much more depth than I've ever seen. I never knew that a lot of the damage was made by the mower, but that makes perfect sense.
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Rob Marshall

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2023, 03:33:45 PM »
Push the edges in, don't pull the indentation up.
If life gives you limes, make margaritas.” Jimmy Buffett

Tim Martin

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2023, 03:45:02 PM »
Push the edges in, don't pull the indentation up.
That would have covered it instead of the seventeen page #PITCHMARKMANIFESTO which Erik directed us to and can be found on his website. ::)
« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 04:15:26 PM by Tim Martin »

A.G._Crockett

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2023, 04:52:40 PM »
Push the edges in, don't pull the indentation up.
That would have covered it instead of the seventeen page #PITCHMARKMANIFESTO which Erik directed us to and can be found on his website. ::)


Tim, what was your motivation for this post?
"Golf...is usually played with the outward appearance of great dignity.  It is, nevertheless, a game of considerable passion, either of the explosive type, or that which burns inwardly and sears the soul."      Bobby Jones

Tim Martin

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2023, 05:01:01 PM »
Push the edges in, don't pull the indentation up.
That would have covered it instead of the seventeen page #PITCHMARKMANIFESTO which Erik directed us to and can be found on his website. ::)


Tim, what was your motivation for this post?


To communicate my feeling that the issue could have been explained far more simply.

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2023, 05:50:25 PM »
I enjoy a deep dive into random stuff. I learned not to replace broken sections, and to encourage my friends to steer clear of wide pronged repair tools.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 06:31:25 PM by Matt Schoolfield »
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A.G._Crockett

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2023, 05:50:39 PM »
Push the edges in, don't pull the indentation up.
That would have covered it instead of the seventeen page #PITCHMARKMANIFESTO which Erik directed us to and can be found on his website. ::)


Tim, what was your motivation for this post?


To communicate my feeling that the issue could have been explained far more simply.
Perhaps if you reread what you wrote, you'll see that it came across as mean-spirited and personal, rather than as advancing discussion and understanding.  I have no idea why you think that was necessary, but it's unfortunate, I think.
In all my years of golf, and with a son who is in the business, I had NEVER run across a comparison of different tools for fixing ball marks.  I was relieved to see that the one I use is a good one, and for that I am grateful.  Without the PDF, I wouldn't have known.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2023, 05:53:47 PM by A.G._Crockett »
"Golf...is usually played with the outward appearance of great dignity.  It is, nevertheless, a game of considerable passion, either of the explosive type, or that which burns inwardly and sears the soul."      Bobby Jones

John Kavanaugh

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2023, 06:28:45 PM »
Thanks for marshaling the thread.

Erik J. Barzeski

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Re: OT - Effective Starters/Marshals
« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2023, 07:25:37 PM »
I enjoy a deep dive into random stuff. I learned not to replace broken sections, and to encourage my friends to steer clear of wide pronged repair tools.
I bought 500 of the pitch mark tools that the USGA have stamped years ago from their supplier (style #4): https://hfgolfpromo.com/shopot-tool/. As you can see in the one image, the superintendent's specific tool is one of the "good" ones that he's worn down to a tiny little nub through use for years. I guess he never loses them!

I keep four or five in my bag and replenish after I give a few out to people. I'm not quite as good as he (Gordon, the super) is, but I can do a pretty good job of making the green look like nothing happened to it. Including fixing old ball marks that were improperly fixed. That often involves "coring out" the dirt and pushing the top layer back over it.

In all my years of golf, and with a son who is in the business, I had NEVER run across a comparison of different tools for fixing ball marks.  I was relieved to see that the one I use is a good one, and for that I am grateful. Without the PDF, I wouldn't have known.
The PDF also, as you noticed, has pictures which better explain the process than words, and show what can be achieved.

To the specific topic… I find that marshals are often given too little authority, often in the name of "customer service," to do what they need to or should do.
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, Instructor/Coach, and Lifetime Student of the Game.

I generally ignore Rob, Tim, and Garland.

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