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Building Trust: How to Be a Good Golf Partner

By Abby Parsons, PGA
Published on

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson look on during a pro-am prior to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC LouisianaGetty Images

Golf is one of the few sports in which the entirety of the result rests solely on one person’s performance. This is part of what makes golf so unique, yet so difficult. What happens when you put another person into the mix and the competition includes a partnership?
This is your club’s member-guest on steroids; this is the Zurich Classic. PGA Tour players play side by side as a team of two, with rounds one and three best ball, and two and four alternate shot.
Playing with a partner in a round of golf is full of ups and downs. The term “ham and egg it” is often used when there is a partner format. One player makes a double bogey, the other makes a birdie that hole and- voila! A birdie it is.
In better ball, you do play your own individual ball, but every shot is still for the team. You would assume that this format puts the mental game more at ease since there is another player aiding the score; however, this is not always the case.
One of the most entertaining formats in all of golf is alternate shot. Player 1 might duck hook it into the trees, but Player 2 will save the team by hitting a bullet through a small opening and rolling it onto the green. Utilizing each other’s strengths is pivotal to a team’s success. Knowing that you have a consistent fairway-finder and a magician with the short stick is important when deciding who hits that first tee shot.
“I’m sorry.” The words you never want to say and never want to hear when playing with a partner... Golf is golf; do not apologize for hitting a shot you did not mean to hit. Keep your head up high and move on to the next one. What makes the PGA Tour player excel in this format is their mentality that, rather than be upset a partner did not hit their intended shot, they step up and show up for their teammate. A bad hole from a partner does not mean the hole is over, it only furthers opportunity for Player 2 to compete hard for the team.
Having a player who trusts their partner’s abilities only betters the confidence for both parties. The excitement increases, the adrenaline increases, and the chest bumps increase when your partner shows up for your team, and you do the same. Getting an extra set of eyes to read a putt makes taking the putter back a lot easier.
The partnership aspect does not completely take the individuality of the golf away. The player is still the only person swinging the club, but they are now swinging the club for more than just themselves. It is a unique and entertaining format in golf, and it is especially rare to see a multitude of partnerships with the skill level of PGA Tour players all on the same stage. It will be fun to watch in the 2022 Zurich Classic, especially with the Masters Champion in the field.