A Public Players Member-Guest Experience
I have been very fortunate over the past two weeks to play in two separate Member-Guest (M-G) events at two very nice courses in Ontario. As a public player this experience can offer some nice insight into a club. While David Fay wrote about bad M-G experiences in his 2014 Golf Digest article, my two experiences recently have been outstanding. I referred to my M-G experience last year in July at Brampton when speaking about the Country Club experience and talking positively about Brampton Golf Club. And I have already provided a course review on the underrated South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club. Both courses were in the best condition I have seen them in. More on the courses soon, but for now, my M-G experience. Here are five reflections:
Being invited is a real privilege and reflects on the friendship between the guest and their member friend. Use that time well to catch up, plan your next golf trip golf trip, and meet some of their friends at their club (we checked off all three boxes successfully). I really enjoyed the quality time, the chance to play as a team and an opportunity to see what it is about their club which they really enjoy. In all of my M-G experiences, the real takeaway was the strengthened relationship I had with my friend over a day of golf.
This is always an interesting aspect to an M-G. The pari-mutuel betting system is, for me, just fun. Not knowing anyone else all too well at the course I placed a bet on our team. I wanted to participate. It allowed my friend to consider a bet on one of their fellow members that they want to support, or feels has a chance to win it all. But make no mistake, the bet is truly a side bet and did not allow for one second the round to become too competitive.
Segue from betting to sportsmanship; both days were all about fun. Make no mistake, we tried our best. But we also did not take ourselves too seriously. In our 18 hole round at SMCGC and the three 9-hole matches at BGCC we were consistent in commending our playing partners for good shots and overall good play. This was an important point to note, because the guest should take the lead from their member host. If he/she is playing to win this event and is very serious – and that is fine – it should not detract you as their guest from being sportsmanlike and complementary of good play.
The competition around the day, in my experiences, has never been too intense. I appreciate that because as a single digit handicapper with aspects of my game well in double digits I can use the competitive aspect of the day to create focus, but I don’t need to allow myself to stress (my reaction to ultra-competitiveness on the course) over a day which should be fun. Again, the guest needs to take the lead of the member host here.
Most important is the aspect of thanks. Your host knows you’re not a member of a course, so direct reciprocity is not possible nor is it expected. But there are some areas here I recommend:
• A personalized gift for your partner. It is a small token of your thanks, but done right will reflect your appreciation for their choice to invite you. Other options – treat them to a round at a public course you really like!
• Seek out the course staff (GM, Head Pro, and Chef) and thank them for the day. It’s just the right thing to do. These people have worked very hard to make the day a special one for you. Your actions will also reflect well on your host.
• Your competitors: regardless of the level of competition, golf etiquette should rule the day. Remove your hat and shake their hand.
David Fay speaks of many potential horrors – ultra competitiveness, pace of play, sandbagging, course set up, and so on. My experiences were horror-free, not surprisingly.
Brampton Golf Club is over 90 years old and its location, with a secluded feel, is very convenient within the Greater Toronto Area. The Robbie Robinson design shows the influence of his mentor, Stanley Thompson, with solid bunkering and a stout layout which requires careful, well thought out shot making. The grounds crew had the greens running very quick – like putting in your bathtub – as Head Pro, Emerson Mahoney mentioned. The conditioning has never been better based on my experiences there and BGCC staff are extremely courteous and professional. Its greatest asset is certainly the people (ok, the course is a close second).
I had written before at South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club. This was their inaugural Member-Guest event and it was exceptional. The M-G experience really complemented the quality of the course, which is a mature parkland style located in downtown Bracebridge. This course contrasts well with newer resort style courses in Muskoka and provides exceptional value. This course will test your game tee to green and is a treat to play. Like Brampton, the conditioning was superb.
Enjoy the Member-Guest experience; it is special and unique golf opportunity for a public player.