Committees are advised to appoint one of their members or an official to be available at the course while players are starting, and to empower this person to settle any problems that may arise regarding starting times, provision of markers etc.
The main responsibilities of the starter are to ensure that the players start at the time established by the Committee and, in stroke play, to issue each competitor with their score card containing the date and the competitor’s name. However, there are a number of other duties that a starter must perform:
- Five minutes before a game is due to start, the starter should call the names of the players and ask them to come forward to the starting tee. If a player does not come forward soon after his name is called, there is time to try to locate the player concerned prior to the starting time.
- When the players arrive on the tee they should be given their own score card by the starter (who should make a point of telling the player that he has been given his own card), a copy of the Conditions of Competition and Local Rules and any other Notices to Players or information not contained within the Conditions or Local Rules. If there is not a Rules official with each match, the starter should ask the players to check the number of clubs they are carrying in order to ensure they do not have more than 14 and advise players how they can recognise rules officials on the course. They should also make the recording policy clear to the players, i.e. in stroke play, the competitors must return their cards to the recorder as soon as possible on completion of the round and, in match play, inform the players of who is responsible for reporting the result of the match to the recorders (usually the responsibility is given to the winner of the match).
- When it is time for the group to start, the starter should announce the match as briefly as possible, for example “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is match number 14”, and then announce each player on the tee, for example, “from Ireland, Padraig Harrington”. It is imperative that the starter does not allow players to tee off prior to their official starting time as this is likely to have repercussions in terms of pace of play. If there are delays on the first tee he should ensure that the Committee is aware of this.
- In stroke play, the starter should ensure that there are at least two members of the last group present before sending out the penultimate group so that one competitor is not left without any fellow-competitors.
These responsibilities should be issued to the starters by way of a simple instruction sheet.
If there is not a Rules official with each match, it is helpful if the starter is knowledgeable about the Rules of Golf as questions may be asked at the starting tee. The starter is a highly visible figure and, therefore, it is important that he or she is smartly dressed in order to create the right impression for players and spectators.
In case of inclement weather, it is desirable for a covered area to be installed on or near the first tee (or tees if a two tee start is in operation) for the starter, and each starter should be furnished with the following:
- A table
- Rules of Golf books
- Draw sheets
- Score cards with the competitors’ names and the date and blank score cards for the players’ personal use in stroke play and match play
- Conditions of Competition
- Local Rules
- Any additional notices to players
- A List of Conforming Golf Balls, if it is a condition that a brand on the list must be used
- List of Conforming Driver Heads, if the condition is in place
- Hole location sheets, if available
- A clock which should be set with the clocks in the locker room, dining area, pro shop and practice areas
- P.A. system (if required)
- Permanent marking pens, to enable players to put identification marks on their ball
- Pencils, tee-pegs and pitch-mark repairers
The starter should ensure that the players start at the time established by the Committee and, in stroke play, issue each competitor with their score card.