This post was most recently updated on October 10th, 2021
Playing a normal round of stroke play and calculating your score is fun for most people. Doing the same thing over and over again can become boring. When playing with a group of friends there are many different types of golf games to mix things up.
This article will explain different games for golf outings so the next time you’re out on the course you’ll be excited to try something new.
Table of Contents
Scrambles are good competition games and great for tournaments because they aid beginners and high-handicap players.
A typical scramble has four golfers participating with all of them hitting their opening tee shot. What follows is everyone on the team hitting their second shot from the result of the best drive. After the final putt is made the team’s score is recorded.
There are different kinds of golf scramble format variations. Another kind of scramble is a step aside scramble. This game is played with the golfer who hit the best ball stepping aside and letting the other teammates hit their next shots.
An Ambrose scramble is another variation. This is where handicaps of the golfers are used so it can fairly balance teams.
Champagne Scramble (Shamble)
A champagne scramble, commonly known as a “shamble”, is a different kind of scramble. The chosen drive of the four members allows players to drop near the drive but not closer to the hole. The team collectively decides which drive they want to play.
Three drives from each team member have to be used. Each player has to finish the hole with their individual ball as well. Then, the two top scores are used. The only difference is in par 3’s where each golfer uses their ball and finishes with their own ball. The two best scores are then written down.
Closest To The Pin
Closest to the pin is a fun game that can be played with friends or it can be measured during an actual tournament. The goal is to see who hits the ball closest to the hole.
This competition is usually played on par 3s. It can be played on all par 3’s or one specific par 3. If you’re wagering, then each person puts money to participate and then the closest to the pin wins the pot.
During a best ball game every player plays their own golf ball during the round. At the conclusion of the hole, the lowest score which is the “best ball” is written as the score for the team. This game can be played with teams of 2-4 people.
For the best ball format, each player hits his own ball throughout the round.
Foursomes is a game where two golfers team up and hit every other shot. It is also popularly known as “alternate shot”.
As an example, if two golfers named Mario and Trey played together, Mario would hit the first shot, Trey the second and so forth, until the ball made it into the cup.
The two teammates have to alternate on drives and hit nine drives each. The game can’t be played using only one player’s drives.
Four Ball is a very similar game except each player plays their own ball instead of alternating.
Greensome is very much like foursomes. Both teammates tee off and pick which is the better ball to play from. The golfer who didn’t have their ball chosen hits the second shot and proceeds to play the second shot and all future even-numbered shots on the hole with the teammate playing the odd-numbered shots.
Patsome is where the rules indicate that the first six holes get played in four-ball, the following six in greensome and the last six in foursome. The strokes are taken as in foursome.
This is the most common form of golf games. This is the usual format of PGA Tour tournaments as well (aside from a few match play events).
It can be played with as little as one golfer and can be played for fun or competition-like in a tournament. The player counts each stroke per hole and tallies up the total number of strokes at the end of their round.
The lowest score in a tournament wins.
Match play is a scoring system for golf in which a player or team earns a point for each hole in which they have bested their opponents. As opposed to stroke play, in which the total number of strokes is counted over one or more rounds of 18 holes.
Match play is a one on one golf competition involving two players. Each player earns a point for each hole they win by putting the ball in the hole with the least number of strokes.
If both players tie the hole, it is a push and considered “AS” for all-square. Holes can be conceded and putts can be given if they are a tap in.
This game can be ended early. For example, if a player is up by two points and wins the 16th hole putting them up three holes, it is mathematically impossible for the other person to catch up and the player who won the 16th hole in that scenario wins the match.
Longest Drive Contest
A longest drive contest is a competition that can be held among friends or during a tournament. It is commonly considered a side game.
The purpose of the game is to see who hits the longest drive throughout the day. There is usually a sidepot for this game while the main tournament is stroke play or a scramble. The winner with the longest drive wins the amount of money put in the pot.
Hole In One Contest
A hole in one contest is a side contest usually at a tournament. There is a massive prize that could be money, or in certain high-end tournaments, a car. The first person to hit a hole in one wins the prize.
The value of a skin is determined by the participants in the match. Typically, the value of a skin is the same for all holes played and is given before the round.
Skins is a well-known gambling game in golf. A skin is awarded to the golfer who has the lowest score on a hole compared to the other players in the game.
The game can be played with 2-4 people. There can be no ties, if there is, the amount rolls over to the next hole doubling. If another tie ensues, it rolls over again and the value triples and so on.
Some golfers like to mix it up and have the first six or nine holes be worth a certain amount and the next nine or two sixes even more.
The Ryder Cup is a team tournament between the United States and Europe. It consists of 12 players per team.
For the USA, six golfers automatically qualify with the six remaining that are captain’s (Steve Stricker) picks.
For Europe, the team is made up of the first four players in the European Points List, followed by the top five players in the World Points List. The last three picks are made by the captain, Padraig Harrington.
The following is the format given by the official website of the Ryder Cup.
“Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of fourball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day is reserved for 12 singles matches.”
Every match is valued at one point. A match that finishes in a tie will give half a point to each team. The first team to hit 14.5 points will capture the Ryder Cup. Should the matches end 14-14, the team who won the Ryder Cup the previous time will retain the crown.
Chapman is a two-person golf game where both golfers hit their own drives and each player hits their next shot from the end of the other teammate’s drive. Then, the better of the second shots is picked to continue playing the hole. The players then play alternating shots until it reaches the hole.
The player who had their second shot picked up hits the third shot.
This game can be played in stroke, matchplay or tournament format.
Stableford is a golf game where a score on a hole is given a certain amount of points. Below is a table of classic stableford scoring vs. the British version.
Double Eagle 8 Points –
Eagle 5 Points 4 Points
Birdie 2 Points 3 Points
Par 0 Points 2 Points
Bogey -1 Points 1 Points
Double Bogey -2 or -3 Points 0 Points
Stableford can be played by two or more golfers and can also be used in a tournament format.
The 2020 Barracuda Championship won by Richy Werenski was a PGA Tour event that used the stableford format.
A shotgun start is where all players in a tournament begin and tee off at the same time but from a different hole on the course. Golfers will follow the course in order from where they started it.
There are certain golf tournaments that require golfers to have a certain handicap to participate. This is a good way to keep beginners and low-handicap golfers separate if the tournament is designated for one or the other.
Some golf tournaments pair the highest handicap golfer with the lowest handicap to even things out over the course of the competition.
Mixed format games are fun golf course ideas. These golf tournaments can consist of different holes being played in different formats. For example, the first six holes can be played in chapman format, with the next six in best ball and the last six in alternate shot.
Some mixed format tournaments can also include both genders as well.
Flag Tournament (Tombstone)
A flag tournament is a golf competition that gives players a certain number of strokes and allows them to play the course until they run out of them.
The name “flag” comes from the nature of golfers receiving small flags at the start of their round. Once their final shot is hit, they stick the flag where they hit from.
If a golfer was given 77 strokes for example, and their final shot was from the fairway on 17, they would place their flag at that location.
If the other golfer’s don’t have a flag placed ahead of yours, then you are declared the champion.
The tiebreak if another player is on their second shot also on 17 is nearest to the hole.
Flag tournaments are played using either full or partial handicaps that determine how many strokes are given. If a golfer with a 14 handicap were to play a course that is a par-72, they would receive 86 strokes. It is the par rating of the course plus the handicap of the player.
Fun golf tournament games are a good way to mix things up when a golfer and their friends head to the course. Changing it up or putting some money on the side can make things interesting and bring the best out of certain golfers.
Be sure to comment on what golf game formats you and your golf course companions play.
The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.