Marshal Eddie at the Dubai Desert Classic. Matt Smith/Motivate Media Group
The weekend is here, the rain has gone and that means thousands of fans flocked to the Hero Dubai Desert Classic to watch their favourites in the pursuit of glory.
With such large numbers coming to the grounds of Emirates Golf Club, keeping everyone in order is no mean feat, and a team of hundreds of volunteers across the Majlis Course ensure everything flows smoothly — from hushing the crowds during vital drives and putts to manning the crossing points and controlling the movement of fans with minimal distraction to the players.
One man whose job attracts more attention than most is Eddie, whose responsibility is controlling the crowds eager to catch a glimpse of stars such as Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood as they tee off on the first hole.
Next to the official announcer and guarding the ropes near the range, putting greens and practice area is a bottle neck at the entrance to the venue. This is where excitement is at its peak, where the crowds are large, and where etiquette can be the hardest to maintain as the fans arrive through the gates in a rush to get to their desired destinations.
“It has been two crazy days with the weather and small crowds, but now the sun is out we are expecting a much bigger turnout for the weekend,” the Malaysian says as the players go through their practice swings on the raised tee behind both him and the rope.
“It will be great for the game now the crowds are back to enjoy the action. Managing the event, the whole team has done a great job as we have been battling the weather as well as trying to keep everything in order with the fans — the noise and making sure they are not getting in the players way.
“Sometimes, especially later in the afternoon, some of the more boisterous fans can get a bit too excited and you have to have a word with them.”
It is a well-oiled machine now that the tournament is in its 34th year.
“Everybody across the course has a dedicated job,” explains Eddie. “We have a dedicated set of volunteers to serve each group on the course. They are on the move with the players, then we have the static marshals who control the specific points around the 18 holes and the larger area, such as crossing points, the greens and the tee boxes.”
While the weather has already proved a unique challenge, Eddie is prepared for a new test as the crowds get bigger going towards the finale.
“Maybe due to the rain the turn-out may be a little smaller than we have seen in the past but these coming days will bring them out more and more and we are all set for a busy day on Sunday. But it will all run smoothly as we have all the training and experience. It will be fun.”
If you are planning to walk the course following your favourite stars, make sure to observe those dedicated volunteers with their ‘Quiet Please’ signs.