21 May 2024 | Amateur golf |

National Volunteer Week: A lifetime in golf

by Martin Blake

David Marshall image
David Marshall has refereed and played golf for decades.

David Marshall has had a lifetime in golf, all of it on a volunteer basis.

And he is not exactly slowing down.

State referee Marshall is 85, although close friends suggest he looks a little younger. “That’s what my doctor reckons,” he laughed this week.

Twice a week, he will walk and play 14 or 15 holes at Pittwater Golf Club on the eastern outskirts of Hobart, just for the fun of it, and in spite of two fairly recent knee replacements.

“Like everyone else, I guess, it’s the challenge,” he said. “You’re challenging yourself and you are out and about and meeting people, the social part of it.”

For decades – longer than he can recall – Marshall has refereed at state events throughout Tasmania as well as being heavily involved at an administrative level.

He has been a delegate to Golf Tasmania and is still on the board of the Southern Country Golf Association. He has been a state selector and is still on the state’s rules and ratings committee, and he is a qualified community instructor, often visiting schools to teach.

It all started in his 20s, when he joined Pittwater, and beyond that he became the first captain of nearby Llanherne Golf Club. He undertook a rules course, but picked up most of his skills for refereeing from more experienced rules officials.

“It’s easier these days than what it was,” he says. “Originally we had, what, 34 rules of golf. Nowadays the governing bodies are making it easier for people to learn the rules. The problem is, the majority of golfers don’t know the rules and they don’t care. They play their game and if you asked them what a rule is, they wouldn’t have a clue.”

In amongst all this David Marshall had a family and carved out a career as an upholsterer, running his own business, as well as indulging his passion for powerboating. But golf was in his blood. “Golf’s been everything. I’ve done it for so long. My family don’t know it any other way other than I’m going to golf.”

Stuart Eaton, Golf Australia's Tasmania event officer, said: "David has been a consistent and central figure in golf at club, district and state levels in Tasmania for in excess of 30 years. His contribution to the sport in this state epitomises the value Golf Australia espouses that golf is a game for life and is a fine example of this."

David Marshall embodies everything about the volunteer spirit of golf as a sport.

A few years ago after his knee issues he left Llanherne and stopped playing. Then a few friends at Pittwater, as his original club, suggested he come along there. Of course he said yes, and now he is out there at least twice a week. He has never stopped refereeing.

“I’ll keep going as long as I can,” he said.

National Volunteer Week is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering and will be next held on 20-26 May 2024. This special event provides an opportunity to highlight the important role of volunteers in our community and invites people not currently volunteering to give it a go.

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