What is a Standard Bearer in Golf?

While watching a golf tournament, have you noticed someone walking around with something resembling a scoreboard? If the answer is yes, then you have noticed the standard bearer.

Even though it sounds more of an elaborate title, the role of the standard bearer is easy to understand. So, what’s involved?

The Basic Role of the Standard Bearer

A standard bearer provides key information on the score of the game they are following. This allows anybody watching the individuals in this pairing on the course to know exactly what’s going on with the game in front of them.

The standard bearer walks around behind the players as they complete their round. They pay attention to the score and what’s happening, and then change the score on their board at the end of each hole.

Basically, it means anybody following this particular pairing at a tournament is aware of how the players are doing. Considering there’s not always a huge scoreboard to check out on a course, this simple idea and job continues to play an important role.

But how do you even become a standard bearer at a tournament?

Who are They?

These people are volunteers, but most have been doing it for an extended period of time, even over a decade. They love golf, and it gives them the best seat in the house. What could be better than that?

Basically, a volunteer will generally go onto the website for the tournament in question, well in advance of it taking place, and submit their application as a volunteer. Often, dishing out the role is on a ‘first come first served’ basis, but it will certainly help if you know someone involved in the setting up of the tournament or the host course.

You can be of any age or sex. The only requirement is you are fit enough to follow the round, and to do it pretty much every day of the tournament. A minor requirement for an amazing experience.

Also, if it’s your first time, then you may be asked to attend a short course. This is to make sure you understand what to do and course etiquette. Without this course, you often won’t have the option to participate. Don’t worry, there’s not a lot to it.

At the tournament, a standard bearer turns up early to learn the group they will follow. It won’t always be the same players since those pairings change on rounds three and four. Then, they are provided with their board, the names, and numbers before heading to the course.

So, they have their board, and the round they will follow. What’s next?

How Does the Board Work?

The way it works is simple.

The standard bearer is given a board complete with the name of the tournament on top. On the board are the surnames of the players they will be following. Next to their names, we have the score they are on. They then walk around the course behind the players.

How to display the score can differ depending on location. Some tournaments will have a + sign if they are over par, or a – sign if under par. Other tournaments will forego the + or – and use black scores for over par, and red scores for under par.

The standard bearer needs to pay attention. They must be aware of what each player just scored on that hole and whether they then have to change the number by their name. For this job, accuracy is key as any spectator will refer to the scoreboard as they too follow the round.

But why does the standard bearer even exist?

The History of the Standard Bearer

Before technology was so prominent, spectators at golf tournaments had no way of keeping up with what was going on with the leaderboard. Having someone walking around with the score made life easier for spectators.

Having someone operating a mobile board made sense. Of course, they couldn’t include every player, so athey decided to only include the names of an individual pairing.

This is a tradition that has stayed with golf, and that in itself is cool. Even the fact electronic boards have n’t replaced it is impressive. The standard bearer is still required to manually change the scores.

What They Won’t Do

What a standard bearer won’t do is provide information about the entire tournament. It’s focused on the players they are following throughout the round. That’s it.

Also, they are different to a walking scorer. Those guys actually keep track of the score. They then talk to the standard bearer at the end of each hole to see if the scores need changed. However, both keep score, and there should be no difference.

The score will also remain the same until all players have completed the hole.

So why would people want to do this voluntary job?

The Perks of the Job

Well, there are several perks of the job. First, you get up close and personal to the golfers. Also, you have a prime view of what’s going on instead of jostling for position in the crowd.

Finally, it’s not uncommon for the golfers you have followed to go ahead and offer something as a keepsake. Signed gloves or balls are commonplace, but if you want to become a standard bearer, don’t go searching for any freebies.

Ultimately, the main perk is experiencing a professional golf tournament from a different perspective than the normal spectator.

So, that’s it. A standard bearer still has a role to play even in the modern golf tournament. They have been around for decades, and won’t be going anywhere soon. If it sounds like a great day out, then why not apply for a local tournament? 

However, be aware that landing a role at the US Open, for example, is tough. To get started, it’s recommended you check out some local pro-am tournament or even a pro tournament at the lower levels. 

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