5 Tips For Member-Guest Success

Last year, my son was invited to play in his cousin’s Member-Guest – a first such event for both of them. They flattered me by requesting advice on things that they should do to help them win. The grizzled veteran that I am, I provided a list similar to the one below.

Thanks to an abundance of athletic talent (both college athletes in other sports), and keen competitive spirits, they won AND gave my tips some small credit.

I give loads of credit to my partner of Home-and-Home events for 36 years. He taught me most of these important disciplines and we came up with the others together. Thanks for the sheer joy of competing together – perhaps the best tip of all!

1.  Your partner.  Choose a partner that you like and respect.  As the host, your goal should be for your partner to have a great time regardless of winning or losing.  To win is simply icing …. and adopting the following tips might be the difference.

2.  Play within yourselves.  Avoid go-for-broke shots.  Try to keep both partners IN as many holes together as possible.  Remember, it is not a long drive contest – keep the ball in play.

3.  Take your medicine.  When you make a mistake, do NOT try the miracle recovery.  Play the odds, get the ball back in play and be a factor to support your partner.  Your bogey might give your partner a risk-free run at par.  Remember, way more holes are LOST than are WON.  Force your opponents to make the par or whatever # is needed to beat you.  If you can do this consistently, it will wear them down – you may hear:  “Heck, these guys are NEVER out of a hole!”

4.  Hang in there.  Fight for every point and do not be discouraged by losing a match.  Anything can happen and players will tighten up as the event progresses.  You will be amazed at how many times a half-point decides a spot in the money or not.    

4.  Pay attention to the shots.  Make sure that you BOTH know exactly who has a shot on the hole (you and your opponents) before you tee off.  Make sure that you or your partner don’t try a crazy shot, not realizing who gets a shot or picks up a 5 or 6 foot putt by mistake.  Also, be gentlemen and warn your opponents if they start to pick up a putt that might matter.  The good spirit will serve you well in the end.

5.  Keep score.  As the host, you should be the designated scorekeeper. That means getting the shots right prior to starting the round, recording everyone’s scores after each hole and keeping accurate track of where the match stands.  You should also remind your partner of the shots before teeing off on every tee. 

Finally, when feeling the pressure at the critical times near the end of matches, do not try to be the hero and execute shots that you probably have not practiced.  

Play shots that you know you can execute with total confidence – see big targets and make relaxed swings with plenty of club. More often than not, your outcomes will be better and your opponents will feel the pressure… let them make the mistakes.


Peter Sanders is the President and a founding partner of ShotByShot.com, a unique strokes gained analysis program that helps golfers determine the precise strengths and weaknesses of each facet of their golf game.

Peter has worked with PGA Tour players and major champions such as Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Smylie Kaufman, Zack Sucher, Sepp Straka, Dylan Frittelli and Michael Thompson to analyze and interpret their data for game improvement. 

Read more from Peter on his Niblicks of Truth blog at ShotByShot.com.