Fun individual golf tournament formats

Here’s the third segment in a four-part series of fun golf tournament formats and golf games, individual golf tournament formats. 

Image of golf trophy

MANY GOLF TOURNAMENT FORMATS for teams and twosomes, although team games, allow players to compile an individual score they can post. Still, some players prefer individual golf tournament formats. Here are a few that diverge from basic stroke play or low-net.

Three-Club Monte: Each player is allowed to take just three clubs onto the course, usually in addition to putter. It’s an especially good game when conditions aren’t optimal. It also moves quickly, because there’s not a lot of deciding to do. Some clubs have a more serious version of this, played with seven clubs.

Stableford: I like this one because if you have a bad hole you can just pick up and forget about it. Points are awarded for net bogey, par, birdie, eagle and albatross. The idea is to get more points than anyone else.

Chicago: This format is exactly like Stableford except that each player starts with a negative number of points (their handicap minus 39) and tries to get to zero or better. In Chicago, points are awarded not for net bogey, par, etc., but for gross bogey, par, etc. So higher handicappers start with the lead and low handicappers must try to catch them. Yes, it’s confusing to many players, especially because the handicapping is done before the round begins.

Synchronized Swimming: If your course has water, have a contest for lowest combined net score on all of the water holes only.

String: Each player gets one foot, or maybe one yard, of string for every stroke of her course handicap. She can use the string to move her ball from one point to another anywhere on the course (though not all the way into the hole). Make sure players have scissors to cut off and dispose of the string they’ve used.

Criss-Cross: After the round, use the player’s lower of the first hole and 10th, second and 11th, and so forth. Add up the nine. This format can be flighted without using handicaps, or played with half-handicaps.

Nine-Hole Games: There are a variety of these, including Odds or Evens, ONES (all the holes that start with one of those letters), T-and-F (again, holes that start with T or F), Lemon Drop (drop each player’s nine worst holes), Blind Drop (nine numbers are drawn at the end of the round and those holes do or don’t count), David and Goliath (the five longest and four shortest holes, sometimes known as Mutt and Jeff), Hardest Holes (the holes handicapped 1-9). These are good games for early in the season, when league players are still returning to form and would rather not worry too much about bad holes.


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