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updated: 9/13/2017 8:31 AM

A BMW Championship golf marshal does more than just 'shush' people

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  • Volunteer Ronald Goldman works as hole captain during Tuesday's practice round for the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. Goldman, of Buffalo Grove, worked two previous BMW tournaments as a hole marshal.

      Volunteer Ronald Goldman works as hole captain during Tuesday's practice round for the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. Goldman, of Buffalo Grove, worked two previous BMW tournaments as a hole marshal.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Ronald Goldman of Buffalo Grove is a volunteer hole captain for this week's BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. He worked the two previous BMW tournaments as a hole marshal, whose main job is crowd control. "My friends say we are 'shushers.'"

      Ronald Goldman of Buffalo Grove is a volunteer hole captain for this week's BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. He worked the two previous BMW tournaments as a hole marshal, whose main job is crowd control. "My friends say we are 'shushers.'"
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
By Ronald Goldman
Special to the Daily Herald
Editor’s note: Ronald Goldman is a volunteer hole captain, meaning he oversees the volunteer marshals working this week’s 2017 BMW Championship golf tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. He volunteered as a marshal for the 2013 and 2015 BMW tournaments at Conway Farms. Goldman, who is retired, lives in Buffalo Grove. The tournament begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Q. What's a marshal's role at the tournament?

A. The main job is crowd control -- manning the ropes along the fairways, around the tee box and around the greens. Along the same heading, it's keeping the noise down while the pro is hitting. You have all seen marshals with their hands up looking into the crowd. My friends say we are 'shushers.' Another main job is actually very important. Even the pros hit the occasional errant shot; the marshal needs to spot the ball and clear the area with the fans, so the players are able to play the proper next shot.

Q. What's a trick of the trade?

A. When the marshal has to drop the ropes that line the fairway to allow the pro, caddie and others to reach the ball (after an errant shot), the marshal has to replace the ropes and the stakes that hold up the ropes. Those stakes are pounded deep into the ground so they will last for the four days of the tournament. If you can't find the exact hole the stake came out of, there is no way to set that pole so it will stand straight and hold the ropes. The marshal needs to carry a couple of tees (not green) to put in the hole when the stake is removed. That way, he can find the hole and drop the stake back in.

Q. What's your favorite memory from volunteering at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms?

A. The hole I was on during the (2015) tournament had a house very close to the tee box. The owners of the house had a tent on the lawn and invited friends and employees of the company they owned to enjoy the tournament from their lawn. During a rain delay, one of the top golfers (Phil Mickelson) just walked into the tent to avoid the rain. The hostess was so excited, offered food, drink to him and his caddie until the rain stopped.

Q. Who are the nicest pros you've encountered?

A. On the whole, the pros are all great during the tournament. They are very focused and of course don't interact with the crowd that often. During the practice round, you see who really enjoys the fans and understands the responsibility of being a role model to the kids especially. One great example is Rickie Fowler. In the years I have worked the tournament, I have seen him give numerous golf balls to kids while walking in between holes.

Q. Have any pros been unnecessarily rude to fans, marshals, etc.?

A. I can honestly say I have never seen one of the pros be unnecessarily rude to fans. Sometimes, if there is an incident of noise or camera during a swing, it is the caddie who will yell at the patron.

Q. Have you ever had to kick someone off the course or deliver a stern lecture?

A. Never had to actually kick someone out. The only issue was picture-taking during play or just making noise. Usually, it takes just a good warning.

Q. What's the best thing about the job? The worst?

A. I love the game of golf. The fresh air, sunshine, green grass, golf course architecture, thrill of watching the best players in the world. Can't beat it! As for the marshaling part, that is easy: 95 percent of the crowd are there for the same reason I am -- love the game and like watching the pros. They follow the rules and are respectful of the marshal. Worst part of the job (really not that bad): being on your feet for long periods of time, and having to stay on the job even if the weather turns bad.

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