Different Competition Formats

If you are tired of pure stroke or match play, the GG Guru can recommend the following 10 different types of competitions to spice up your rounds. These can all involve wagers, but of course the GG Guru would never advocate betting on the course!

1. Best Ball
Best ball can be played using 2-, 3- or 4-person teams, usually as stroke play applying handicaps. Each player on the team plays his or her own golf ball throughout the round, and on each hole the low net score – or “best ball” – of the team serves as the team score.

2. Scramble
Often the preferred format for club tournament play, scrambles are stroke play events, usually played with 4-person teams. A 2 or 3-person scramble is also fun. Each player on the team tees off on each hole. The best of the tee shots is selected and then all players play second shots from that spot. The best of the second shots is determined, then they all play their third shots from that spot, and so on until the ball is holed.

3. Alternate Shot (Foresome)
Alternate Shot, is a format for 2-person teams who take turns playing one ball (either stroke or match play). The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. Tee shots are alternated so that the same player doesn’t hit every drive.

4. Six Points
A format for three players with 6 points to be won on each hole as follows: Score is counted normally for each player (using any handicap adjustments). The net score for each player is then compared. If one player has the lowest net score on the hole, he/she receives 4 points; the next lowest net score receives 2 points and the worst score gets nothing. If there is a tie for the second best score, each of those players receives 1 point. If two players tie for the best score they both receive 3 points and the other player receives nothing. If all 3 players tie for the best score, they each get 2 points. At the end of the round the player with the highest score wins.

5. Skins
Each hole is worth one “skin” for an agreed value. The player that wins the hole outright earns the skin. If there is a tie, the “skin” is “carried over” to the next hole and every member of the group is eligible to win, except this time it will be worth two “skins” and so on until there is a winner.

6. Nassau
A format for both individual or team play. The round is divided into three matches, one for the front nine, one for the back and then one for the overall score. The player (or team) winning the front nine wins a prize, the player (or team) winning the back nine gets a prize, and the player or team with the low 18-hole total wins a prize. A player or team that is trailing in a Nassau can “press” – opening a new bet to run concurrently with the bet that has
been pressed which can make this an expensive format.

7. Bingo, Bango, Bongo
Bingo Bango Bongo is a points-based game best played in a foursome. In this game points are awarded for three achievements: the first player to get his ball on the green gets a point (bingo); the player whose ball is closest to the pin once all balls are on the green gets a point (bango); and the player first to hole out gets a point (bongo).

8. Quota Points
A format for any number of players. Before the match, each player subtracts his handicap from 36. That number becomes the player’s “quota”, e.g. for a 16 handicap, the “quota” would be 20. Players are awarded one point for a bogey, two points for a par, four points for a birdie and eight points for an eagle and are penalized one point if more than a bogey. The goal is to get more points than your quota. The person or team with the most points over their quota at the end of the round wins.

9. Changing Alliances
In this format each player is paired up as a partner with everyone in a foursome. A best-ball match between two teams of two players, changing partners after every six holes, making for three different matches within an18-hole round of golf. An ideal format if there is one player in the group much better than the others as everyone will get a chance to have that player as their partner for six holes.

10. The Wolf
A set rotation must be decided on before teeing off with players alternate being the “wolf.” On each hole before teeing off, the player designated as the wolf chooses who will be his partner for that particular hole, or he can choose to play “wolf” and take on the remainder of the group by himself. Usual handicaps are applied in a best ball format. If the wolf and his partner win the hole, the two players split the earnings. If a player decides to go “wolf” and wins the hole, he wins the set amount per hole from each player. If a player goes “wolf” and loses the hole, he must pay the set amount to each of the other three players.

Finally, for extra fun, here are few commonly used side bets, applied regardless of the format of the competition:

  • Arnies – scoring par and never once touching the fairway.
  • Barkies – hitting a tree solidly and still making par.
  • Sandies – getting up-and-down from a bunker.
  • Splashies – making par after hitting into the water.
  • Greenies – closest to the pin on a par 3; but you must make a par or better for it to count.
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[…] did a blog on “Different Competition Formats” back in May 2010 – but since it doesn’t really hit the spot regarding the Ryder […]


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