10 Different Golf Formats to Play With Your Buddies
We may be a little biased, but we doubt you will argue with our long-held view that golf is the most fantastic sport on Earth. Whether you're enjoying a round with friends or a solitary 18 holes, it's a game that thrills and maddens in equal measure.
While that is the case, at times you might be looking for a way to freshen things up and enjoy the game a little differently. Whether you're playing against your buddy with a wager on the line, or simply for those all-important bragging rights, our list below highlights some well-known formats and a few others you perhaps won't have heard of.
The idea behind Stableford is pretty straightforward, and it's a scoring system that is very popular in competitive social golf. Rather than counting the total number of strokes taken, it involves scoring points based on the number of strokes. Therefore, unlike Stroke Play, Stableford's objective is to have the highest score.
It's arguably the most popular scoring format since it can speed up play and keeps golfers from giving up after one or two blow-up holes. Neither do you have to play each hole to its finish, which means no more grinding away to post a snowman or worse, and fewer walks of shame back to the tee when a drive is lost unexpectedly.
Skins is an ideal format for a two-ball but could also work in a three-ball, whereby winning a skin keeps you in the game no matter how well you are playing.
You win a skin if you get a better score than your opponent on a hole. If you both shoot the same score, that skin rolls over, and the next is worth two skins. Things can very quickly build up and become very exciting. Try getting up and down on the last for 7 skins, and you'll see what we mean!
Vegas is a high stakes, high intensity, pressure-packed team golf format. Two teams of two compete against each other, and instead of adding scores together, you pair them.
If the golfers on team A make a four and a five, their team score for the hole becomes 45. If the players on team B make a five and a six, their score is 56. Next, you subtract the smaller score from the larger score and award that number of points to the team that won the hole.
Because it is often played for $1 per point, it's generally played by better golfers (or wealthier golfers at least).
There are various ways to spice things up within the match. The 'Flipping the Bird' rule, for example, isn't a green light for raising an offensive gesture towards your opponent but instead gives a team the ability to flip their opponents' scores after carding a birdie - i.e. a four and an eight changes from 48 to 84. Similar to Skins, this can see wild late game swings which creates great moments you'll remember for a long time after playing.
Sixes, otherwise known as Round Robin or Hollywood, is an excellent game for four golfers but with an added twist.
The golfers pair up and play six-hole matches, switching partners every six holes. Each golfer of the winning pair accumulates 1 point. The individual with the most points wins.
Six-Six-Six is a tournament in which the format changes every six holes. For example, it might be that the format initially starts as scramble before changing to best ball and then to alternate shot for the final six holes. You can get really crazy with the combinations, give it a try!
Scramble is a hugely popular, all-time favourite golf format that likely needs little introduction for most golfers.
For anyone who is a little unsure, in scramble, everyone in the fourball (or it could just be a two-ball) tees off before the best drive is then selected. Each player then hits their next shot from that position, and this continues after approach shots, chip shots around the green and putts until the hole is complete.
The format can be made a little more challenging by requiring you to use each golfer's drive a certain number of times - ruling out the ability to rely on a bomber's tee shot on every hole.
Often referred to as Four-Ball, Team Matchplay is played by two teams of two golfers, and each plays their own ball throughout the round, with the lower of the partners' scores counting on each hole. The team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole and if the low scores are tied, the hole is halved.
Played in a standard matchplay format, you're likely most familiar with this scoring system from watching the Ryder Cup, as four afternoon fourballs are played on both Friday and Saturday.
Unlike Four-Ball, in foursomes, each team of two golfers play only one ball in an alternate shot format taking turns until each hole is complete. The team with the low score on each hole wins that hole. If the scores are tied, the hole is halved.
The "Gruesomes" name is a play on "Greensomes." In the Greensomes format, two golfers per side tee off, select their best drive, and then play alternate shot from there.
In Gruesomes, the two partners tee off, the golfers on the opposing team select the worst of those two drives, and then the partners play alternate shot from there. As you can imagine, this can often end poorly, and can result in a lot of strategy surrounding tee shots, the honour of the tee also becomes quite important!
Solo two-ball worst ball
As the name suggests, in Solo two-ball worst ball, you play two balls all the way to the cup. You first hit two drives and select the worst shot between them before hitting the next two shots from that location.
After hitting two from that spot, you'll be playing your next shot from the worst of the two, and this continues until you hole out. Therefore, it really forces you to focus and concentrate on hitting two good shots every time.
Famously some pros have managed to shoot even par in this format. Rory McIlroy often uses it in his practice at home, recently commenting that if he's shooting any amount under par, he knows his game is in great shape.
There are many, many other formats and scoring systems so let us know your favourite in the comments below and stay tuned for part 2 coming in a few weeks' time.