Tournament Formats
Last Updated: 01/25/07

                                GOLF TOURNAMENT FORMATS




  1. INDIVIDUAL MEDAL PLAY (STROKE PLAY):  A round of golf in which the score is kept by adding the cumulative total of strokes taken throughout the round.
  2. MATCH PLAY:  There are dozens of different formats, however, the best known match play formats are those used in the Ryder Cup.  Singles match play pits player A against player B, hole after hole.  If player A scores a 4 on the first hole while player B records a 5, player A wins the hole.  Ties are called halves and are not played off.  Whichever player wins enough holes so that his opponent is unable to tie him in the eighteen hole match is the winner.  Matches that do end in a tie (all square) can be extended in another eighteen hole round or sudden death (first to win a hole) to determine a winner.  If unable to extend because of a deadline or course availability, the opponents should decide on some putting or chipping contest to break the tie.
  3. BEST BALL (BETTER BALL):  Can be played using 2, 3 or 4 person teams.  Each player on the team plays their own ball throughout the round, and on each hole the low score of the group serves as the team score.  In 4-person team competition you can also take the two lowest scores.     
  4. MODIFIED STABLEFORD:  This format can be played by individuals or as a team tournament.  Point values for double eagle, eagle, birdie, par, bogey, and double bogey or more are pre-determined.  The highest score wins.
  5. MONEY BALL (ALSO CALLED LONE RANGER, YELLOW BALL OR PINK BALL):  A 4-person team competition.  The money ball is rotated amongst the foursome for each hole.  The score of the money ball plus the lowest score of the other three teammates is the team score.  The lowest team  score is the winner.
  6. 1-2-3 BEST BALL:  4-person teams keep score using the lowest score on the first hole, then the two lowest scores on the second hole and three lowest scores on the third hole.  On the fourth hole it is back to the lowest score and so on throughout the round.   




  1. ECLECTIC MODIFIED SCORING:  Format is individual stroke play.  After round 1, golfer protects his choice of six best scores played that day; then selects 6 holes golfer believes he can shoot better in round 2; with the remaining 6 holes left open to select the better score from either round.  Golfer with the lowest eclectic score wins.
  2. ALTERNATE SHOT:  A format for 2-person teams.  The two players on a team alternate hitting shots, playing the same ball.
  3. SCRAMBLE:  Usually played with 4-person teams, but 2-person scrambles are popular also.  In a scramble, each player tees off on each hole.  The best of the tee shots is selected and all players play their second shot from that spot.  The best of the second shots is determined, then all play their third shots from that spot, and so on until the ball is holed.
  4. SHAMBLE:  Usually a 4-person team.  The best tee shot of the team is selected and all four players play their own ball in stroke play format from there.   The team score can be the lowest, or a combination of the two lowest or even three lowest scores.
  5. PINEHURST (CHAPMAN):  A format for 2-person teams.  Each player hits their drive.  For the second shot each player hits the other player’s driven ball.  They then decide which ball to play in the alternate shot format.  The player whose second shot was not selected will begin the alternate shot format.  The team with the lowest score wins.
  6. TRIATHLON (3 FORMAT COMBO):  2-person teams play the first six holes in a scramble format, the second six holes as best ball, and the last six holes in the alternate shot format.  Lowest score wins.
  7. FLAGS:  All golfers begin the round with a flag and a set number of strokes related to their handicap; they play until they have used the strokes up (then plant the flag) or have finished the round.  The winner will be the player with the most strokes left over after the round or the player who advances the furthest on the golf course.