Golf Information

Golf Tournament Formats

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1. Scramble

The Scramble is probably the most-common format for team tournaments. It can be played by 2-, 3- or 4-person teams, and involves choosing the one best shot following every stroke, with each team member then playing again from that one spot. Variants include the Texas Scramble, Florida Scramble and Ambrose. Click the link for a more in-depth explanation, as you can do for each term listed here.

Definition: The Scramble is one of the primary forms of tournament play for golf associations, charity events and the like. A scramble is usually played with 4-person teams, but 2-person scrambles are popular, too. At a 2-person scramble, handicaps are usually applied; at a 4-person scramble, handicaps are usually not applied – unless it is anAmbrose-style scramble.

In a scramble, each player tees off on each hole. The best of the tee shots is selected and all players play their second shots 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.

When played as a foursome, teams are usually constructed with an A player, B player, C player and D player, with those players designated based on handicaps. The A player would the low-handicapper, the D player the high-handicapper.

A scramble might require A and B players to tee off from the back tees and C and D players from the middle tees; or A’s from the back, B’s and C’s from the middle and D’s from the front; or the tournament organizers might specify that all players play from the same set of tees.

2. Best Ball

In a Best Ball tournament, all members of each team play their own balls on each hole. At the completion of the hole, the lowest score among all team members serves as the team score. Best Ball can also be called Four Ball, and variations include 1-2-3 Best Ball.

Definition: Along with the scramble, “best ball” is one of the most popular golf tournament formats.

Best ball can be played using 2-, 3- or 4-person teams. Each player on the team plays his or her own golf ball throughout the round, and on each hole the low score – or “best ball” – of the group serves as the team score. Player A gets a 5, B gets a 4, C gets a 6, D gets a 6, then the team score for that hole is 4, because the low score of the group was B’s 4.

Best ball is usually played as stroke play with the total score added up at the end of the round. It can be played as match play, but best-ball match play with more than 2-person teams results in a lot of halved holes.

When using 3- or 4-person teams, it’s almost imperitave to apply handicaps so that the weaker players will be able to contribute.

A 2-person best ball match play competition is also known as Four Ball.

“Best ball” can also refer to a competition in which a single player plays match play against a 2- or 3-person team playing best ball. That variation is good for a low-handicapper taking on a team of higher handicappers.

3. Alternate Shot

Alternate Shot is a format for 2-person teams and is sometimes called Foursomes. The two players on a team alternate hitting shots, playing the same ball. Odds and Evens and Scotch Foursomes are other versions of Alternate Shot.

Definition: Alternate Shot, also called Foursomes, is a competition format in which 2-person teams alternate hitting the same ball. 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 balls are alternated so that the same player doesn’t hit every drive.

Alternate Shot can be played as stroke play or match play.

4. Modified Stableford

A Modified Stableford competition can be played by individuals or as a team tournament. In Modified Stableford, the idea is to have the highest score – because your score on each hole is worth a certain amount of points. A birdie, for example, might be worth 2 points. The International, played on the PGA Tour every year, is a Modified Stableford.

Definition: Modified Stableford is a Stableford competition whose rules have been modified.

OK, that was glib. Here’s a real definition: A Stableford competition employs a points system that is set forth in the Rules of Golf under Rule 32. A Modified Stableford is a competition that employs the same principle – golfers are awarded points based on their performance on each hole, with the highest point total winning – but with a different set of points than what is described in the rulebook.

Modified Stableford is better known than Stableford because a former PGA Tour event, The International, was played using Modified Stableford. At The International, points were awarded on this scale:

• Double Eagle: 8 points
• Eagle: 5 points
• Birdie: 2 points
• Par: 0 points
• Bogey: -1 point
• Double Bogey or Worse: -3 points

(To see how this compares with the rulebook Stableford scoring, check out the Stableforddefinition.)

A Modified Stableford can have different point totals for different accomplishments as a tournament committee decides. It can also offer different points to different players for the same accomplishments.

For example, if handicaps are not being used in competition, they can be used to flight players into A, B, C and D. Then points are adjusted so that, as an example, a par gets an A player 0 points, a B player 1 point, a C player 2 points and a D player 3 points.

5. Chapman (Pinehurst)

When the Chapman System (a k a Pinehurst System) is the format for a tournament, it means that 2-person teams will be competing. Chapman is really a melding of several formats into one. In a Chapman event, teammates switch balls after their tee shots, select the one best ball after their second shots, then play alternate shot until the ball is holed.

Definition: This 2-person team competition format is named after Dick Chapman, a great amateur golfer who played The Masters 17 consecutive years. He “invented” the game at Pinehurst Resort, hence it is alternately called Chapman or Pinehurst. And, for good measure, it is less frequently referred to as American Foursomes.

In the Chapman System, both players on a side tee off, then they switch balls. Player A plays Player B’s drive, and vice-versa. Each player hits his or her second shot. They then select the best of the second shots, and from that point until the ball is holed they play only one ball in an alternate shot format. Got it?

Switch balls after the drive, select the one best ball after the second shot, play alternate shot until the ball is holed. The player whose second ball was not chosen gets to play the third shot (so teams might sometimes choose the best ball after two shots based on who will get to hit the third).

Chapman (or Pinehurst, or American Foursomes, or whatever you want to call it) can be played as stroke play or match play.

If playing your team against my team with all four players of equal abilities, play it at scratch. But it’s a great game for twosomes of varying abilities, or husbands and wives.

Handicap allowances for Chapman System competitions can be found in the USGA Handicap Manual, Section 9-4 (www.usga.com).

6. Bingo Bango Bongo

This is one of the most popular formats for golf association tournaments and league tournaments. Bingo Bango Bongo rewards players for three things on each hole: being the first player in the group to get onto the green; being closest to the hole once all group members are on the green; and being the first player in the cup.

Definition: Bingo Bango Bongo is a points-based game that can be played by any number of players, from two up.

In Bingo Bango Bongo, three types of achievements are rewarded with a point. The first player in a group to get his ball on the green gets a point (bingo). The player in the group whose ball is closest to the pin once all balls are on the green gets a point (bango). And the player in the group who is first to hole out gets a point (bongo).

Add up the points at the end of the game, high points wins.

Bingo Bango Bongo gives weaker players a chance to earn points because what matters is being first at something. For example, all members of the group tee off on a par-4. The player who hit the worst drive (farthest from the hole) plays first, and so has the first shot at winning the bingo point.

So, too, with closest to the pin. The best players in the group are likely to be on the green in two (or three on a par-5), while the weakest players might be chipping. The closest-to-the-pin point is only earned once all balls are on the green, so the player who has hacked it up the fairway may be sitting just off the green and chipping – giving that player a great chance to pick up the bango point.

Because of these factors (and because the first person putting will be the one farthest from the hole), strict etiquette must be enforced. The player who is away always plays first.

For a variation, throw into the mix that any player winning all three points on a hole wins double points.

7. Flags

In a Flags tournament, all golfers begin the round with a set number of strokes (related to their handicaps), and they play until their strokes run out. The player who makes it farthest on his or her allotment of strokes is the winner.

Definition: Flags is a competition format in which golfers begin the round with an allotment of strokes, then play the course until their strokes run out.

The game gets its name from the fact that little flags are usually given to competitors to stick in the ground at the point at which their final shot is played.

The golfer who stakes his flag the farthest around the course is the winner. Example: Your allotment is 75 strokes. You play the course until you hit your 75th shot, which, let’s say, comes on the 16th fairway. That’s where you plant your flag. If no other player’s flag is planted beyond yours – say, on the 16th green or 17th tee box – you are the winner.

Flags can be played using full handicaps or partial handicaps to determine the stroke allotment. A player with a handicap of 21, for example, receives 93 strokes on a par-72 course if full handicaps are used (72 plus 21).

Using full handicaps often means that several golfers will reach the end of 18 holes with strokes left; those golfers would go back to No. 1 and keep playing. Alternately, all players with strokes remaining can stop after 18 and the golfer with the most strokes remaining is the winner.

Using partial handicaps, especially two-thirds, usually means that nearly all players will use up their strokes before completing 18 holes.

If players are tied – a number of players make it to the 17th green or 18th fairway, for example – closest to the hole wins.

8. Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger, also called Money Ball, Yellow Ball or Pink Ball, puts the onus on one player per team per hole to come through with a good score. Players in a group of four rotate as the “Lone Ranger;” on each hole, the score of the designated Lone Ranger is combined with the low score of the other three team members for the team score.

Definition: Lone Ranger is a tournament format that is variously called Money Ball, Yellow Ball, Pink Ball or Pink Lady.

On each hole, one player in each foursome is designated the “lone ranger.” That designation rotates throughout the round; for example, Player A has it on the first hole, B on the second, C on the third, D on the fourth, then back to A on the fifth and so on.

In Lone Ranger, two scores per hole are added together for the team score. Here’s the catch: One of those two scores must be from the Lone Ranger. So on each hole, the team score will be the score of the player designated the Lone Ranger, plus the lowest score of the other three players on the team.

9. Peoria System

The Peoria System is a sort of 1-day handicap system for a stroke play tournament in which most of the players do not have established handicaps. It allows all players to, following the round, deduce something resembling a handicap allowance and apply it to their scores. Peoria involves totaling your score on preselected (but secret, until after the round) holes, then doing some multiplication and division.

Definition: The Peoria System is a sort of 1-day handicapping system for tournaments in which most of the golfers do not have real handicap indexes (company outings, for example).

The Peoria System – while, like the similar Callaway System, based in certain part on luck – allows a “handicap allowance” to be determined and then applied to each golfer’s score.

The tournament committee secretly selects six holes. These are usually two par 3s, two par 4s and two par 5s, and often one of each type per nine (one par 3 on the front, the other on the back nine). Competitors do not know which holes have been selected.

Groups tee off and complete their rounds, playing stroke play and scoring in the normal fashion with one exception: double par is the maximum (i.e., 8 is the maximum score on a par-4). Following completion of play, the six Peoria holes are announced.

Each player totals his six secret holes. That total is multiplied by 3; par is subtracted from that total; then the resulting number is multiplied by 80 percent. This is the player’s allowance. The allowance is subtracted from the player’s gross score and the result is the net Peoria System score.

Example: On the six holes, Player A uses 30 strokes. 30×3=90. 90 minus par-72 is 18. Eighty percent of 18 is 14 (round off). Fourteen is the allowance. Player A’s gross score is 90; 90 minus 14 results in a Peoria System net score of 76.

10. Callaway System

Like Peoria, the Callaway System is a quasi-handicapping system that can be employed for a stroke play event in which most of the particants do not have handicaps. The Callaway System involves consulting a chart following the round to determine a handicap deduction and handicap allowance.

Definition: The Callaway System (or Callaway Scoring System) is a sort of 1-day handicapping system that can be used in events where most of the golfers do not have real handicap indexes.

For example, at a company outing, most of the golfers may not carry official handicap indexes. How can they all – with widely different playing abilities – compete fairly at stroke play?

The Callaway System – while, like the similar Peoria System, based in certain part on luck – allows a “handicap allowance” to be determined and then applied to each golfer’s score.

When the Callaway System is in use, all competitors tee off and play stroke play, scoring in the normal fashion with one exception – double par is the maximum score on any given hole (i.e., on a par 4, 8 is the maximum score).

Following the round, gross scores are tallied. Based on each golfer’s gross score (using the double par maximum), each golfer tallies up a prescribed number of worst scores from their scorecard, then applies a second adjustment that may add or subtract additional strokes.

Utilizing the Callaway System requires consulting a chart to determine a handicap deduction and handicap adjustment. For further explanation and an example of how the Callaway System works:

Explaining the Callaway System

How to Use the Callaway Scoring System When Official Handicaps are Unavailable

The Callaway System (or Callaway Scoring System) is a sort of 1-day handicapping system that can be used in events where most of the golfers do not have real handicap indexes.

For example, at a company outing, most of the golfers may not carry official handicap indexes. How can they all – with widely different playing abilities – compete fairly at stroke play?

The Callaway System – while, like the similar Peoria System, based in certain part on luck – allows a “handicap allowance” to be determined and then applied to each golfer’s score.

When the Callaway System is in use, all competitors tee off and play stroke play, scoring in the normal fashion with one exception – double par is the maximum score on any given hole (i.e., on a par 4, 8 is the maximum score).

Following the round, gross scores are tallied. Based on each golfer’s gross score (using the double par maximum), each golfer tallies up a prescribed number of worst scores from their scorecard, then applies a second adjustment that may add or subtract additional strokes.

The result is a total that is something similar to a net score using real handicaps.

A couple points:

• The higher a competitor’s gross score, the more holes that player will be deducting;
• Holes deducted begin with the highest score; if a player gets to deduct one hole and his highest score is an 8, then an 8 is what gets deducted;
• Scores on the 17th and 18th holes may not be deducted, even if one (or both) of them are the competitor’s highest score.
• Even after high scores are added together for the allowance, the second adjustment must be made; this adjustment might add or subtract 2, 1 or 0 strokes from a player’s Callaway handicap.
• Once the appropriate number of high scores has been tallied, and the second adjustment is made, the player is left with a net score.

Sounds complicated, eh? That’s why the Callaway System comes complete with a handy reference chart.

The chart below should make things much easier to grasp. Look over the chart, then look below the chart for an example.

Gross (using double par max.) Handicap Deduction
70 71 72 Scratch
73 74 75 1/2 of Worst Hole
76 77 78 79 80 Worst Hole
81 82 83 84 85 1 1/2 Worst Holes
86 87 88 89 90 2 Worst Holes
91 92 93 94 95 2 1/2 Worst Holes
96 97 98 99 100 3 Worst Holes
101 102 103 104 105 3 1/2 Worst Holes
106 107 108 109 110 4 Worst Holes
111 112 113 114 115 4 1/2 Worst Holes
116 117 118 119 120 5 Worst Holes
121 122 123 124 125 5 1/2 Worst Holes
126 127 128 129 130 6 Worst Holes
-2 -1 0 +1 +2 Handicap Adjustment

Before our examples, a couple notes about the chart: This chart applies to a par-72 course. If par is different, simply add or subtract the number of strokes – corresponding to the difference in par – from the Gross Scores. For example, if par is 71, then subtract 1 from each of the Gross Scores listed above.

Also, half scores are rounded up. If a player is deducting half of 7, then that 3.5 is rounded up to 4. And finally, the maximum a golfer can deduct under the Callaway System is 50 strokes.

OK, an example of the Callaway System in action:

Tiger shoots 64. No deductions or adjustments are made because Tiger’s score is lower than the scores listed on the chart. Vijay shoots 71, which is on the chart, and the column to the right (“Handicap Deduction”) shows that a player shooting 71 plays at scratch – no adjustments.

The Golf Guide, however, shoots 97. Find 97 in the chart above, and we see that its row (going across) corresponds to a handicap deduction of “3 Worst Holes.” So the Golf Guide finds the three worst holes on his scorecard. The Golf Guide’s three worst holes are a 9, an 8 and a 7. Total those up and we get a handicap deduction of 24.

Now we apply the second adjustment. Go back to 97 in the chart above; follow the column down to the “handicap adjustment” on the bottom line. The column for 97 corresponds to a handicap adjustment of -1. That means we’re going to substract a stroke from our handicap deduction of 24. So our final, adjusted handicap allowance is 23.

And our net Callaway System score is 97 minus 23, or 74.

So using the chart is a matter of finding the gross score, looking across the row for the handicap deduction, then looking down the column for the adjustment.

Source…http://golf.about.com/od/beginners/tp/tourneyformats.htm