The Member Guest: Some Rules of Thumb for the Season
Summer is winding down and golf course maintenance crews are about to start their seasonal TLC (or tough love, depending on how you view it) to ensure the most optimal conditions for the upcoming season. Aerification, overseeding and the like are necessary evils that must be endured so the golf course can transform into the best version of itself for the colder winter months.
This time of year — the cusp where we see peak conditions that are about to drastically change — is often referred to as “Member-Guest Season.”
It’s the perfect time (and weather) for a “last hurrah” and for golf clubs to showcase their commodities to guests, who come in and call their golf course home for three or four days of food, fun, camaraderie and of course, lots and lots of golf.
Some of you are veterans who have played in many of these and have the plaques and team uni’s somewhere in the back of your closets to show for it. Some of you have played in a handful, and a few of you are about to embark on your very first event.
But no matter how many of these one plays in, there is always a need for the occasional reminder of the “do’s” and “don’ts” of such a coveted invite. After all, you do want to be asked back. And if you’re the one doing the inviting, you want your partner to be eager for next year, instead of telling you he’s busy that weekend before you even give him the dates.
Rules of Thumb for Guests
- Any winnings you might earn individually (closest to the pin, long drive, hole in one, etc.) gets split 50/50. Anything the member wins individually is theirs. If they insist on sharing the winnings with you, then they are fabulous. But it’s not mandatory for them to do so.
- Always defer to the member. They gave a nine-foot gimme putt to the other team? Don’t argue or ask if they’re drunk. Just smile. If you happen to jovially say, “Wow. You are generous to a fault, which is why I like you so much,” or something of the sort, you can passive-aggressively make your point without looking like a total ingrate.
- If your partner wants you to wear a pink shirt with purple cats sprinkled all over it as your team uniform, wear it. Rock it. But do not, under any circumstances, complain or say how hideous it is. The other guys in the group will do that for you.
- The club’s goal is to show off the course and its amenities. The member’s goal is to show off his friend. No pressure, but the member’s coolness factor is directly related to how cool you are. So don’t screw it up. In other words, don’t be a jerk.
- Compliment often and freely. No one ever said, “Thank you, but I’ve had enough compliments for today.” If you like their head cover, compliment. Is their swing fluid and graceful? Compliment. Do they have a delightful personality? Tell them. Again, have you ever not had an affinity for someone who hands out compliments as freely as hand sanitizer in a grocery store? No? Same.
Rules of Thumb for Members
- You know how when you were a little kid and you went to your friend’s house and they acted all different because they wanted to kind of show off? Yeah, don’t do that. Don’t do “finger guns” to another member in the locker room. Don’t act like the director of golf is your best friend and lean on the golf shop counter as you throw out “inside jokes” that leave him with a blank look on his face. You’ve seen that guy. You know that guy. Don’t be that guy.
- Don’t bore your guest with unnecessary facts and jargon about the maintenance of the golf course, the history of every golf hole, insignificant tidbits about course design, etc. Your guest just wants to play, eat, drink and (let’s be honest) win. Unless the information you are spewing is going to help him with his next golf shot, shut it.
- While warming up, don’t grunt after hitting driver on the practice range, and refrain from giving enthusiastic fist pumps on the practice putting green after making anything outside of five feet. Just act like you’ve been there.
Now, there can be a lot of pressure to play well whether you’re a member or a guest. You don’t want to let your partner down, nor do you want to make a fool out of yourself by shanking an easy shot and causing injury to someone’s ankle, to the point where whenever they look down at their leg and see the huge knot and bruise they immediately think of you and spit-yell your name under their breath.
Anyhoo … I’m sure that won’t happen to you, so just relax, have fun and don’t worry too much about the level of your game. Nobody will really remember how you played or what you shot, because they’re all so busy worrying about their own games. They will remember whether or not you were fun to play with.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all Member-Guest events are the same, although they are all equal in terms of the opportunity to play golf with your friends in a unique setting with varying formats and scoring systems. Whether you come off the 18th hole to be greeted with soft-shell crab and a glass of Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon or are handed a burger and beer, the fun factor is equal across the board.
“NOBODY WILL REALLY REMEMBER HOW YOU PLAYED OR WHAT YOU SHOT, BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL SO BUSY WORRYING ABOUT THEIR OWN GAMES.”
Friends, fun, golf, fresh air, camaraderie and a chance to spend consecutive days doing what you love with people you really like. Strap yourself in good, because it will be a great ride.