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If I had to make a list of really shitty white collar jobs, golf course marshal would probably be near the top. It makes sense that most of these gluttons for punishment are retired, Centrum Silver-gobbling seniors looking for a couple days of work a week in exchange for free golf. Who else in their right mind would volunteer to be generally despised by the majority of players with whom they come into contact? It’s a chicken and the egg sort of thing. Are marshals usually giant, power-drunk dickheads looking to ruin all semblance of fun because everyone hates them, or is it the other way around? Either way, these fairway authoritarians seek to keep order on the course while doing their best to never step foot out of their carts.
For a moment, let’s try to walk around in a ranger’s orthopedic shoes. It doesn’t matter if you work at TPC Sawgrass or the local 9-hole par 3 shithole. Every course comes with its own problems. If you work at the former, you have to deal with rich, privileged assholes who will constantly remind you that you make less in a year than they did last month. What little authority you have on the course is constantly usurped by the sway of high priority members. Some of these guys could literally drop trou, take a runny dump in the sand trap on #9, then hand you the rake to clean it up without thinking twice about it. Think that’s an exaggeration? High-profile members often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on memberships, food, drinks, guests, parties, etc. Course marshals are a dime a dozen. It’s pretty obvious where the course’s loyalty lies.
On the other side of the stick, you have the courses that look like the grounds crew works once a week for a couple hours at best. Greens fees with cart included generally range from $15 to a handful of expired Arby’s coupons. These are the Walmarts of golf courses, and the clientele is generally identical. Here, you are going to find a lot of mesh tank tops and basketball shorts. In the complete absence of Nike and Titleist, you will find a myriad of Spalding, Wilson and off-brand clubs and balls you’ve never even heard of. This is truly marshal hell.
Here, marshaling is akin to a full-time babysitting job. Completely forget about rate of play and tee-time scheduling; here you will spend most of your time fishing carts out of the ponds and bunkers. With the remaining time, you might find yourself reprimanding customers for pissing in the ball cleaners and picking up a never-ending stream of Skoal tins, Busch cans, and Marlboro Red packs. Etiquette? Yeah fucking right. You’ll have a hard time explaining why it’s wrong to drive a cart on the green when you have some 370-pound mouth-breather repeating, “But I saw President Trump do it!” And the goddamn colored balls! If you aren’t constantly picking them up from OB, a course like this quickly begins to look like an 18-hole driving range.
On any course of any kind in any part of the country, the course marshal is a drunk wrangler plain and simple. This is just how it is, because nothing goes together better than 18 holes and as many beers as you can drink in said 18 holes. Out on the course without food in the hot sun, those aluminum Silver Bullets can get you feeling good in a hurry.
We’ve all been there: you are approaching the 7th tee and think to yourself, “I don’t even know if I’m going to make it to the turn.” This makes the marshal’s mission twofold. First, keep the drunks contained and moving along at an appropriate rate of play. Second, keep them from causing damage to themselves, others, and all course property. This one isn’t too easy nowadays, as a bunch of kids have started new golf course fuckery trends that are sweeping the internet. One hilarious gem centers around waiting for your unsuspecting friend to line up a shot and then hitting them with your golf cart.
Another involves pushing the bounds of the cart’s structural integrity by ramping them off bunkers in true X Games fashion.
Because of this, course marshals now spend their evenings in the cart corral reattaching plastic windshields and trying to unbend frames. There is truly not enough free golf and minimum wage in the world to entice me to become one of these “guardians of the game.”.