There are many times I go to play golf that I am alone. Sometimes I get paired up with people from the course. Other times I will try and pair up to meet new people and for a better pace of play. One common thing I see is many golfers, especially female golfers seem nervous and scared to pair up with me. Some see my tour bag and may flat out say they are not good enough to play golf with me. Others will try and shy out with comments of "well we are playing the forward tees why don't you just go ahead of us." Whatever you may think do not be afraid of playing with a professional or scratch golfer.
Here are some tips on how to handle the situation when you are paired up with a professional or scratch player. Ironically Golf Digest just did a pretty good article about this same thing, titled; The Dos and Don'ts of Playing With a Scratch Player. Some of the things I agree with and some I see very differently.
Don't Be Nervous/Scared - Although you may feel intimidated to play with a golfer you see as better there is actually nothing to be afraid of. You may feel like you will embarrass yourself but the truth is that feeling may actually make you play worse. It puts pressure on yourself. Just play your game and have fun.
Don't Try and Play The Same Tee - Just because you are playing with a golfer that may be playing the tips that do not mean you have to. It will not speed up play and it will actually slow down the round. It will cause you to struggle more with your game, lose more golf balls, and hit more shots. All things that will slow play. I can not speak for all professionals but many times I will move up to the tees of the other golfers. This makes them feel more comfortable, makes conversation easier, and usually will put the group at ease to have more fun.
Feel Free To Ask For Tips - This is another one where I can not speak for all professionals but golfers asking me for advice does not bother me. However, keep it minimal, and don't ask for a fix to your golf swing. Remember we are out there playing golf as well and swing fixes take time. Asking about course advice (like a strategy for playing a hole), short game (club selection for a chip or pitch), rules of the game, or putting (green reading, stroke path, or alignment) are ok and are much better to ask for.
Don't Give Swing Advice - This is a rare one but it happens more often than you think. There are many times I have had mid to high handicap golfers tell me something they saw in my swing when I hit a bad shot. The truth is golfers under a 6 handicap, especially professionals, know what happens when a bad shot occurs. This can make the remainder of the golf round awkward. You may have sound advice but it is better to keep it to yourself. This is not to say we don't appreciate what you saw, it is more because we know our game and are possibly working on specific things in our game already.
Never Apologize About Your Game - This happens quite often. Many golfers I have played with even though they are playing their normal game will apologize with comments like "I'm sorry I'm playing bad and slowing you down." I've heard this while waiting on a group ahead on every hole. You can't slow anyone down if you're still waiting on groups ahead of you. Golf is about having fun and constantly apologizing honestly is not that fun.
Don't Assume We Always Putt Everything Out - This may sound crazy but many golfers I have played with will leave a putt 1 inch from the hole thinking I want to tap it in. Do not just kick it back but ask if we would like to putt it. Chances are we are not worried about putting everything out most days. I will let anyone I pair up with know at the beginning of the round if I am putting everything out or not so they know. It helps eliminate any assumptions for the beginning.
Most of all, just be yourself. Don't be afraid of normal conversation or small talk just because another golfer is good at the game. You do not have to be quiet or try to avoid conversations. We are not playing a pro event with "quiet" signs. You will be pleasantly surprised when you are yourself playing with a professional or scratch golfer you may even see some improvement in your own game.