Only by betting (I am too poor to lose all the time) or competing in formal tournaments occassionally will you hone your golf skills to higher levels.
Playing with BETTER golfers (same as playing with better pool players) is a good way to learn the skills and course management of amatuer/pro champ quality golfers.
But the price you pay is LOSING A LOT & HAVING SOME HUMILIATING EXPERIENCES until you get better yourself.
It builds mental strength tho when under pressure.
BTW, I have three articles in this months (April 2011) GOLF tabloid newspaper available at all driving ranges in Singapore.
(This last statement was a favour to the editor Al.)