Are you fairly new to golf and just heard about something called a “marker?” Are you imagining a person walking around a golf course marking the golf balls they find with a marker? Maybe a marker is just something a golfer uses to mark the distance their ball goes or is another name for the flag that marks where the hole is. Actually it, or rather they, are none of these things.
A golf marker is a person who counts the strokes a player makes to get their ball into the hole at each round. They verify the number of strokes a golfer makes throughout the whole game and signs the card to legitimize the scores.
It might sound like a simple task, but it’s an indispensable one in golf. To learn more about why markers are necessary and exactly what they have to do, read the information below.
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What is a Marker in Golf?
Golf markers are people assigned to each competing golfing player to keep track – or markdown – each golfer’s score.
In official competitions, a golf committee assigns each player a marker when the competing golfers are using stroke play, and only for stroke play. As the person assigned to a golfer in order to keep track of their scores, the marker follows their assigned competitor closely and counts their strokes at each played hole.
Sometimes a golfer is assigned more than one marker just in case the first marker can’t watch their player at all the holes due to an emergency, they’re sick, or they just had to be called out for any reason. Having multiple markers also eliminates the possibility of a mistake in a single marker’s count against the golfer’s count. You can imagine that there are instances where the golfer doesn’t agree with the count the marker had noted.
What Does a Marker do?
After the player finishes a hole, it’s the marker’s responsibility to confirm the number of strokes the player took to get the ball into the hole with said player and enter the gross score into the scorecard. The gross score is the total number of strokes for the round that doesn’t have handicap strokes subtracted from it.
If you happen to be assigned as the marker for another golfer, you need to keep track of any penalty strokes as well as the total number of strokes made. You should also double-check the counted strokes with the golfer, who will doubtlessly be counting their strokes too.
When a game is finished, the marker signs the scorecard so that the committee knows the turned-in scores are valid. If there are multiple markers, each marker signs the card at the hole they spotted.
Why do Golfers Need Markers?
Golfers need markers, or in the case of official competitions, are required to have markers whenever the golfers are using stroke play. Stroke play is a form of scoring in golf and is distinctly different from match play, another form of scoring in golf.
In match play, the players compete against one another to win each hole. The winner is decided based on the number of holes won, tied, or lost between the competitors. Because match play has the golfers’ scores based on the holes won, match play doesn’t require the players to have a marker. That’s because each player can keep track of the other’s strokes for each hole, can plainly see each other’s play, and easily keep track of who won at a hole.
Since there are only two players competing at each hole, it’s easy for each to protect the integrity of the game, and since match play relies on the integrity of the players, markers just aren’t necessary for match play.
On the other hand, in stroke play, the strokes of all of the competing golfers are counted throughout the entire game. If you are familiar with stroke play (and you undoubtedly are), you know how difficult it is to keep track of your score through 18 holes, while focusing on your game. Or, you’ve felt the suspicion that your competition would lie about their scores. So it’s for stroke play that a neutral party is necessary to keep track of the number of strokes the players made so that there’s no confusion or bitterness in the game.
Markers are also necessary because if a four-some were to try to turn in their scores into a competition without the signature of the marker, or markers, the scores would not be counted. The players wouldn’t be able to use their own signatures as their own markers either.
USGA Golf Rules for Markers
Although the marker is a simple part, there are a few rules that have to be applied to the position in order to prevent confusion or bias.
The first one is that in order to have an unbiased counter, the marker can be another player but they can never be your partner.
The second is that in a competition if the committee doesn’t choose a marker for each player, they will set guidelines on who the players can choose as their marker for themselves.
What if the marker cheats and puts an incorrect score down on purpose? If the marker is another player, that person is automatically disqualified. If they aren’t a player, that individual won’t be asked to be a marker by the same committee, and they will probably count the score according to what the golfer counted.
If there is just a disagreement between the marker and the golfer on the number of strokes at a certain hole, the committee speaks to both parties to make a decision. In the case of a disagreement, the marker doesn’t sign the scorecard.
Other Golf Markers
While a golf marker usually refers to the person who marks the strokes of the golfer, there is another golf marker that you probably thought of the moment you heard of markers in golf.
Golf ball markers have at least two common purposes. The first is that they allow you to distinguish your ball from anyone else’s. This is incredibly useful if you are playing golf in a group or playing on a course with parallel holes where balls can cross paths. The second common reason golfers mark their ball is to help them hit the ball better.
The marks that golfers sometimes use to mark their balls can seem random when they are a series of colorful lines. However, these lines allow golfers to improve the accuracy of their swing and putting alignment because you have a mark on the ball to focus on. There is usually a series of marks on different levels of the ball, with each one a different color so that golfers can pinpoint the angle they want to hit the ball.
There are also golf tee markers that are differentiated by colors that mark where golfers start the hole. Today there are usually at least three kinds of tee markers: red, white, and black. Red will mark forward tees, the white markers are for middle tees, and the blue marker is for back tees.
Now you know more about the position of a marker in golf, and the different kinds of golf markers than you probably thought you needed to know. Markers of all kinds are extremely useful in golf, and even if you think you don’t need to mark your ball or have a friend count your strokes for you, you should definitely try it. These things may just surprise you.