Your girlfriend, who’s an experienced golfer, just called and invited you to play in her club’s guest day. You’re flattered and thrilled, but then you realize . . . you’ve never played in a guest day! What really is a guest day? Is it a serious tournament? Are you ready?

Relax. Take a deep breath. You’ll be fine. Here’s everything you need to know to play in a guest day.

What Is a Guest Day?

Many private clubs host several ladies’ guest days each year to essentially showcase the club to women in the area, and it’s an opportunity for members to invite their friends to enjoy a round of golf.

These guest days often have a theme that could be tied to a season or holiday. They typically include a round of golf with a team competition format, tee prizes, awards or cash for the winners, and a group luncheon. Quite often, clubs discount the rate so that it may be less expensive than paying the normal guest rate and ordering lunch off the menu.

What Should You Wear?

One of my favorite parts of guest days are the themes. I’ve seen everything from Casino Royal to Orient Express and so many others in between. If the flyer or invitation doesn’t list a specific theme, your hostess may have chosen a color she’d like you and the rest of your foursome to wear. Some ladies are known for getting very involved in the theme, and even bring accessories or decorations for their golf carts. Start that dialog early so you have time to shop and contribute to your team outfits.

Ask About The Format

Quite often these events are a team format like a scramble that allows each player to have a try at each shot, which takes the pressure off of you. Your hostess will have picked a foursome that will get along well together, and compliment each other’s game. It’s a good idea to ask her about the format so you can look it up beforehand and be prepared for what to expect. The most popular formats are a scramble, shamble, or best ball. Quite often there are fun elements like mulligans (free shots) and a free toss out of the bunker, which all add to the fun and reduce the stress for each shot.

The Day-Of The Event

You’ll want to arrive early to check in, warm up and meet the other ladies on your team. It’s helpful to ask your hostess a few days in advance what to expect when you arrive (valet or self parking, tipping policy, breakfast, snacks or lunch).

Guest Day Etiquette

I never like to assume my hostess is paying for me, so I’ll ask in advance what the cost is and if I can pay at the pro shop or send her payment in advanced. If she insists on treating me for the guest day, I will bring a small gesture gift. (Yes, small as in inexpensive, but also small in size so that it can fit in her tote bag or golf bag!) Some great hostess gift ideas are ball markers, a package of balls, a funny book on golf, or a cute flask for birdie juice (a swig of booze that’s taken after anyone in the group makes a birdie).

The Round Has Begun

Once the event begins, you’ll want to pay attention to what I call the number one etiquette rule in golf: pace-of-play. We’re all excited to be out there, but catching up on what your kids are doing and the latest updates on your job is best saved for after the round. Your “tournament job” is to be prepared to leap out of your cart when you reach the ball, and play calmly but efficiently.

If it’s a scramble the most experienced player on your team may have a preferred order of hitting from the tee, in the fairway and on the putting green. Just follow her lead and be ready to hit when it’s your turn, keeping the chit-chat to a minimum. Don’t be that one person that keeps everyone waiting or you may not get invited back!

Your first guest day doesn’t have to be stressful. Just follow these simple tips to prepare, and then take a deep breath and enjoy the day!