I feel sorry for people who dismiss golf as boring without having ever tried it. No other sport can offer the amount of variety that golf can. You can play with friends, strangers, play on your own, you can change the course you play, how to practice, clubs to hit, types of shot to play and most excitingly, the type of format you play. Golf is the sporting equivalent of a shuffled pack of playing cards, the opportunities are endless!
To ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by the possibilities, I’m here with my handpicked selection of playing formats to suit every golfer for all occasions.
Texas Scramble is a staple format at every golf club around the world and that’s because it’s enjoyable for every level of golfer, quick to play and lets everyone get involved.
It can be played in pairs, as part of a three or fourball. Here’s how to play; every player tees off and then together you all decide which drive was best, the other players pick up their balls and you then all proceed to play from the chosen best shot. You repeat this process until holing out.
This format is great fun all year round, but especially for winter golf when you may need a bit of luck to avoid bad lies that are common in the wetter, colder months. When taking my ladies group out onto the course for the first few times I often use this format to reduce the inevitable overwhelming feeling at having to play every shot from the crazy places you can find yourself.
As if just saying the name of this game, Bingo, Bango, Bongo, wasn’t fun enough, it gets better! This is a points based game, for two, three or four players to enjoy, 3 points are up for grabs on every hole.
Point 1 Bingo – is for the player that gets their ball onto the green first.
Point 2 Bongo – is for the player whose ball is closest to the hole once all the balls are on the green
Point 3 Bango – is for the player who holes out their ball first.
One crucial thing to bear in mind with this format though is that the order of who plays matters, ready golf this is not! Ultimately, this is a points game for being the first to do something, it’s old school in the sense that you must play in the correct order, so the person who is furthest away from the hole is always the one to play first.
Originating from the then Club Captain of The Nassau Country Club on Long Island, this format is perfect for any golfers who fancy a friendly flutter on the course. The premise is simple, you play a game for the front 9, a game for the back 9 and an overall game. You can play Match Play, Stableford or Strokeplay but those are the 3 games up for grabs. It’s a great way of keeping things interesting if you have a few bad holes as there is always a way to come back and win.
The Match Play version of this is without question my dad’s favourite format of play, he and his friends are high rollers who play for big stakes; £1 for the front 9, £1 for the back 9 and a pound for overall, that’s 3 whole pounds up for grabs people, along with the most valued prize of all, the bragging rights!
I love the concept of this game, I think it’s easy to understand, tactical and most importantly fun!
Instead of having a handicap you are awarded a foot of string for each shot of your handicap, along with a small pair of scissors.
How it works is that you are allowed to move your ball to a better spot, but you must measure how far you move it with your string and then cut that amount from your allowance. If you’ve got string left to use, you can move your ball as far as you like and in any direction. Hit it into a tricky bunker, or hazard, no problem, string to the rescue!
Some formats even allow you to use this on the green so you can string your ball into the hole, but this is where you need to think tactically on what length putts it’s worth using it for.
This dynamic always results in an entertaining round. Each team of four is given a coloured golf ball that one player must play. On the next hole, another team member plays the coloured ball, it then continues to rotate through the team members for the rest of the round. What makes the coloured ball special is that its score always counts!
There are different versions of how you work the coloured ball format, it might be a Stableford or a Better Ball where you add the other best player’s score for the hole to the coloured ball score. Whichever version you play though, one thing is for sure, when you are playing that coloured ball, the pressure is on, and whatever you do, don’t lose it!
This is an ‘omen’ for you to spice up your golfing life by switching things up and giving the 6-6-6 format a go. This game is typically played in pairs and involves choosing three different formats to play over three lots of 6 holes, totalling 18 holes. An example of formats that might be used for this are:
Best ball, where each player plays their own ball, and the best score is used on the card.
Scramble, where both players tee off and then play from the better shot each time until finishing the hole, the score is then used on the card.
Alternate shot, one player tees off and then the other player hits the second shot, they continue to take turns until finishing the hole.
You can be out on the golf course for a long time so a game like this helps to keep you on your toes and keep you focused; 18 holes will fly by!
Putting is the star of the show for the Snake game and gimmes are a definite, no, no! It can be played in a two, three or fourball. Whoever three putts first becomes the keeper of the snake, the next person to three putt is then given the snake and so it continues until you finish the round. The person who ends up with the snake in their possession loses! This is a popular game for determining who is buying the post-round drinks.
An absolute classic club competition. The clue is in the name of this one, you play a round of golf using only three clubs of your choice. For me, it would be a 5-wood, 7-iron and a 52-degree wedge. The beauty of this challenge is that there is no perfect combination, just what is right for you.
I would say the most important thing when it comes to this one is to choose a club you can putt with as that is where we spend most of our time on the golf course, and a hovered wedge halfway up the ball works well as a putter for me.
This is a practice game best enjoyed on your own, and it’s not for the fainthearted. This challenge is best attempted by the more advanced golfer. It involves playing two holes hitting only draw-shaped shots and then the next two holes as fades, continue alternating every 2 holes between the two shot disciplines. It’s a good idea to take lots of extra balls, as a few will likely not go to plan.
The benefit of taking this on is that it will improve your ability to work the ball, increase your understanding of how draws and fades affect flight and carry, and it will treat you to playing shots from all over the course.
If you want to improve your golfing grit, this is the one for you. Worst ball takes the friendly, happy-go-lucky format of the traditional scramble and flips it on its head. You tee off with two balls and instead of playing the next shot from the best one, you choose to play from the tee shot that resulted in the worst position and you carry on playing two balls and always choosing the second best shot until you finish the hole.
It’s a great way to practice as it embraces the messy reality of golf and forces you to strive to make a good score regardless of the situation you find yourself in.
Hopefully the above suggestions will help you to avoid getting in a rut of the same old formats, week in, week out, and will take you on a journey of golfing self-discovery.2023-12-05T14:07:21Z dg43tfdfdgfd