Dubai Desert Classic marshal Annie Marriott Dubai Desert Classic marshal Annie Marriott Image Credit: Matthew Smith/Gulf News

Big DP World Tour events such as the Dubai Desert Classic see thousands of fans come out to watch their favourites mount a challenge for the title over four tough days on the golf course. With such numbers and logistics to manage, there is more to keeping everyone in check and making sure that everything ticks along smoothly than you make think — and that is thanks to volunteer marshals such as Annie Marriott.

The Dubai-based Scottish expat has patrolled the courses along with her husband, PJ, for 15 years at Emirates Golf Club when the big guns come to town and is back in action once again on the Majlis Course this week for the Dubai Desert Classic.

“It was freezing cold to start with as we were out so early,” she told Gulf News, still smiling despite her 8.20am start with English golf pros Robert Rock, Jordan Smith and David Horsey. “Because of the tee time there were not so many followers on the course, but I actually prefer that these days. Some of the quieter groups are better than the signature groups as those ones get a flooded with followers and it is harder to control the crowd. That doesn’t bother me too much but you can get to feel a little bit closed in, whereas it is a bit more intimate with a quieter group. You get to have a few exchanges with them and the caddies and also chat with the spectators going round, finding out where they are coming from and what brings them out.”

Annie has marshalled for some of the biggest names over the famous course at EGC, but sometimes it is the lesser lights that bring a smiles to her face.

“My husband and I have always been passionate about golf and a friend had mentioned that the Desert Classic was coming up — this was about 15 years ago — and wondered if we were interested in volunteering,” she explained. “We jumped as the chance and the opportunity to get up close and work with the players. It is also a nice way to get some exercise, enjoy the course and see some great golf at the same time.”

Annie judicially sat on the fence when asked if she had any favourites on the course. “I have marshalled for a lot of the big guys — Lee Westwood, defending champ Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed to name a few,” she smiled. “I love them all. All the players have different personalities and can be quite different on the course from off it. I enjoy whatever group I play with.”

Despite having done the drill for so many years, Annie has no plans to slow down.

“I love it, I really do enjoy it,” she said. “Along with the experience, you get to hook up with marshals who have flown in for the event. Even today I have caught up with around half-a-dozen friends from the UK I have marshalled with in the past — renewing acquaintances and seeing friends old and new. It is fabulous. We also have a great 'apres-golf' in the clubhouse where you get to meet all the other volunteers, players and caddies and chill out.”