Golf Formats

Bridget Logan Women's Golf Reporter

Golf formats revealed.

There are only two fundamental golf formats. All other games and formats are variations of the basic two: stroke play and match play. In the next few paragraphs we will examine these two formats and several of the more popular ones that are derived from them. So read on… see how well you know your formats.

1. Stoke Play (also called Medal Play) – This is usually the format we think of first when we think of playing golf. The number of strokes taken by a player for each hole is recorded on a scorecard and the player with the lowest score (fewest number of strokes taken) at the end of the round is the winner. In a stroke play event, scoring can be ‘scratch’ or ‘gross’ (meaning no handicap adjustment is used) or a player’s ‘net’ score (final score minus handicap) is used. Either way one bad hole can do a lot of damage to your final score.

2. Match Play – In a match play event, players ‘match’ scores on each hole; the winner being the player with the most holes at the end of the round. The player with the lowest score on the first hole is said to have won that hole and goes ‘1 up’. If the players are tied with the same number of holes, the match is said to be ‘all square’. When a player has won enough holes that his opponent must win all the remaining holes to tie the match, the player who is ahead is said to be ‘dormie’. When there is not enough holes left for the player who is behind to tie or go ahead of the other player, the match is over and is scored as: 3 and 2, read 3 up with 2 to play – meaning 3 is the number of holes a player is ahead and 2 means the number of holes remaining to be played.

Some of the more familiar formats derived from Stroke and Match Play are:

Threesomes – A threesome is a game in which one player plays a team of two other players. Each side plays one ball with the partner side alternating shots. The game can be played as either stroke or match play.

Foursomes – The foursome format is made up of two teams of two players playing one ball. Before the round begins, each team decides who will tee off on the odd holes and who will tee off on the even holes. Team members alternate shots until the ball is holed. The format can be either match or stroke play.

Greensomes – The greensome format is a variation of the foursome format above. Instead of alternating tee shots, for each hole both players on a team tee off then the best tee shot is selected and players alternate shots from that point until the ball is holed. The round can be match or stroke play.

Three-Ball – The three-ball format comes in handy when there are only three players available for play. There are three games in play at the same time. With players A, B, and C: A & B are Team #1, B & C are Team #2, and A & C are Team #3. Play can be Match or Stroke and scoring can be by best ball of the team or aggregate (combined) score of the team.

Four-Ball – In this format two 2-player teams compete against each other in either match or stroke play. The members of each team play their own ball throughout the round. At the end of each hole, the team score is the better score of the two players.

For more information on golf formats and games, see THE GOLFER’S GAME BOOK.

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