Whether you feel an anxious excitement to meet the people you’ll be playing with in your foursome or are apprehensive about potentially embarrassing yourself in front of everyone, playing in a golf tournament usually comes with some level of nerves, regardless of your skill or experience.

Making the leap from putting around the golf course with your friends to actually competing in a Pro-Am alongside an actual professional can be daunting to say the least. But like with most everything in life, things are much easier to handle when you’re prepared.

This year marks the second annual Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s all-female Pro-Am. The idea behind the event was to help close the gap between men and women participating in Pro-Ams by encouraging women of all skill levels to participate and learn to “Live Fearless” through golf.

“Early in my career, there were countless times I was invited to the golf course but said no because I wasn’t confident in my skills. Finally, I decided to Live Fearless and learn the game, and it has been so rewarding for me—both personally and professionally. That’s what I want for all women regardless of the obstacle,” said Reagan Greene Pruitt, Blue Cross NC Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement. “Blue Cross NC is proud to support the LPGA Q-Series golfers and the countless women they are inspiring to Live Fearless.”

So, let’s shake off those first tee jitters and prepare to “live fearless” yourself when competing in your first Pro-Am.

Planning

Your preparation for playing in a Pro-Am actually begins well before that 8 AM shotgun start. The first step in helping yourself feel more comfortable for the big day starts when you first sign up for the Pro-Am. Here is where you’re going to want to keep your eyes peeled for the event information that will make you feel like an old hat at Pro-Ams come game day.

The format.

Depending on how you look at it, all the different ways golf can be played can make or break the game for new players. On the one hand, it can shake things up when the game’s starting to feel stale, and on the other, it can add another level of complication to an already seemingly complicated game.

Nevertheless, Pro-Ams tend to usually shy away from typical every-woman-for-herself single player golf in favor of one of two formats:

A Scramble where each member of a foursome individually tees off from their assigned tee box but then hit all their following shots from the location of the best shot out of the group. Individual scores are not calculated, but rather the score is collected through everyone’s best efforts.

AND

Best Ball where each player goes through the hole as they would in a typical single player round, but only the lowest score out of the foursome is recorded as the team’s score.

Either way, these alternative formats are a lifesaver for a beginner golfer because there is less pressure to perform as well as everyone else. You’re not letting anyone down by not really being able to get out of the bunker in a reasonable number of strokes, and you have room to relax and have fun with your group. Even better, you’re playing on a team with a professional golfer, whose skills are sure to help your group score low during the event.

Other things to look out for include the start times, tournament organizers’ contact information, tournament fees (if any), and any additional information about the event you may need. When in doubt, always contact the tournament organizers or the pro shop at the golf course if you have any questions. It’s always better to have too much information and be prepared rather than having to deal with a surprise emergency in the moment.

Equipment

What to wear and what to bring can be a little confusing as a beginner, so don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start. The good news is that outside of the very rare exceptions, most Pro-Ams are going to expect generally the same things apparel- and equipment-wise.

Clothes

The best way to make sure you don’t attract any disapproving glares from the others at a Pro-Am is to play it safe with some tried and true golf essentials: collared shirt, skirt or shorts at least 18 inches long, and some sneakers.

There are loads of really great golf clothes for women nowadays—many of them with pockets!—though they can be hard to find if you’re only shopping around what just happens to be on the rack at your local pro shop.

Each golf course can vary in their exact dress code so be sure to check with the pro shop or the course’s website ahead of time if you have never played that course before.

Equipment

Apart from the obvious—your golf clubs, golf balls, and tees—it’s good to fill those golf bag pockets with some helpful goodies that can really make or break your round.

Bring a golf glove, water bottle, extra tees, at least half a dozen golf balls more than you think you’ll need, a towel to clean your club in between shots, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and sunsleeves (your skin will thank us when you’re older), bug spray, an umbrella, a small first aid kit, and, most importantly, some small snacks. Even if you’re sure you won’t want one, there’s no telling who in your group might be feeling a dip in their blood sugar and will gladly take that granola bar off your hands.

Arrival