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  • Writer's pictureBen Maroco

Fun Golf Tournament Formats

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

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Image of a Golf Swinging On the Greens

Most Popular Golf Formats

Not many sports have myriads of variables as the game of golf, including golf tournament formats. The course layout and design, the pin position, the speed of the greens, the turf type, and certainly the weather. All these variables combine to make every round unique.

These dynamic influences in play onto the fairway, and it is the reason many golfers are so conservative when it comes to making choices about the playing golf format.

We all know that most games take either the stableford, strokeplay, or straight format. What are the most popular golf formats? In the article, we take you through fun couples golf formats, golf outing formats, and golf major playoff formats, and more.

1. Strokeplay Golf Formats

Golf Tournament Formats
An Illustration of Strokeplay Golf Format - Source: Live About

This is the most traditional and unadulterated of all types of golf formats. Simply put, the number of shots between the teeing area and the target hole. At the end of the round, the aggregate score is computed by summing individual hole scores.

When playing this golf format, the winner is the player with the least aggregate strokes for elite golfers in a typical tournament.

For net stroke play, Playing Handicap is deducted from the gross strokeplay and the winner is the player with the least aggregate scores. It is one of the golf tournament formats.

2. Stableford Golf Formats

Golf Tournament Formats
An Image of a Golfer On the Greens - Credit: Getty Images /Kruger

It is the most popular golf format that allows players to continue scoring despite picking a hole or two. Individual holes add up to give the net score.

Your handicap and a hole’s stroke index determine whether you get a shot on that hole. The following is the scoring system:

​Nett double bogey or worse

0 Points

Nett bogey

1 Point

Nett par

2 Points

Nett birdie

3 Points

Nett eagle

4 Points

Nett albatross

​5 Points

After each round, points scored on each hole are aggregated to give the overall stableford score. It is one of the golf major playoff formats.

3. Match Play Golf Formats

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In Match Play golf format, the contest is on a hole-by-hole basis. A golfer goes up by winning a hole. Every hole victory is a point.

If you go further up to the extent that even when the closest players behind you win the remaining holes they will not catch up, you are declared the winner.

Players can either play a nett match or gross match play and either in pairs or singles. A three-ball match play is also an option.

The three above are the basic golfing formats but players can adapt according to their preferences. Furthermore, there are numerous other formats to try. Let us check some of the possible options.

4. Two Balls Golf Tournament Formats

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a. Bisque Match Play

This is one of the most popular golf formats. The game is essentially similar to singles match play but the only variance is the recipient of strokes can opt on when to take them. Players have to decide whether they will use shots after completing a hole.

For instance, if a player scores a gross five against the rival’s four, the former takes a shot to possibly earn a half. You can take more than one shot on a hole if you have more accumulated.

b. String Game Match Play

Instead of receiving strokes, a player receives a string whose length correlates with their handicap – often a foot per shot. You can use the string to shift your ball to a vantage spot without necessarily losing your stroke.

The string allows you to relocate the ball from a hazard or move it on the putting grass closer to the hole. The player can move the ball as many times as the strong allows. This is one of the most popular golf formats.

5. Three-Balls Golf Formats

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a. Threesomes Match Play

It is among the most interesting three-ball formats. The player takes on two opponents. The single golfer is handed his ball while the two play foursomes.

In the straight-match play, handicap allowance is the total difference between the single player’s handicap and the average of the paired players’ handicap. This is one of the most popular golf formats.

b. Barracuda

There are six points per hole for grabs. Furthermore, there is a full handicap allowance with players awarded shots at holes according to stroke index.

You earn four points for an outright win per hole with the runner-up taking two. When the runner-up position is shared, both get a point and three-point each when they halve a hole.

If the three players halve a hole, they each get two points. The ultimate winner is the player with the most points garnered after eighteen holes. This is one of the most popular golf formats.

6. Golf Fourball Formats

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a. Skins

Of the 4 some golf formats, it is one of the best. Each hole is equivalent to a ‘skin’. Applying full handicap, an outright hole win is worth the skin.

When there is no outright winner, the skin is carried over to the subsequent hole, doubling the worth of the next hole to make it two skins.

It will continue until someone register an outright win. If that is the case, the next hole’s worth will be - as usual - one skin. 4 some golf formats is one of the most popular golf formats.

b. Daytona

Players are paired and the net scores for each team per home are aggregated. If both players make register five on a hole, the score becomes 55.

If the score differs, the ordering will depend on the team’s performance subject to par.

When one team makes at least a par, the lower aggregate will come first. If neither of the teams makes par, the reverse will be true.

c. Texas Golf Scramble Formats

The best driver is selected after each golfer tees off. All players go on to play from the spot where the best shot was selected once again. The game proceeds in a similar fashion until a player makes a hole.

In the format, the scores are pretty good. There is a requirement that in the course of the round, three of the drive belonging to each player much be used. It is one of the fun golf tournament formats.

d. Dice Golf Scramble Formats

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A dice is rolled after each player tees. If the outcome is 1, the first player’s drive will be used, and the same applies to other outcomes. This is one of the most popular golf formats.

A five implies that the player will use the worst drive and the best drive for a 6. The regular golf scramble formats will apply thereafter as all player take their second shot. The game continues to the hole.

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