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Plan Your Next Event With These 12 Most Popular Golf Tournament Formats

Plan Your Next Event With These 12 Most Popular Golf Tournament Formats

The very first question you’ll have to answer when planning a golf event is what type of format you want your tournament to be. The format you choose can make or break your charity event but these 12 most popular golf tournament formats will help you with new ideas when planning your next tournament.


Talk with people from your organizing committee for further recommendations about popular formats in your area for the audience you are hosting.


So here are 12 golf tournament formats to choose from as you prepare for your next big event:


The Scramble



The Scramble is the most common golf tournament format used with fundraising and business-related golf events. It is usually played with teams of four, but can be played with more or less players. When using the traditional four-person team, Scramble allows your team to select the best shot in each individual series of hits, and then the entire foursome will take their next shot from that location.


You can drop your ball within club length from where the chosen ball lies, but no closer to the hole. The scramble eliminates the time wasted locating balls that veered off course and helps each team get their best possible score.


Best Ball



The Best Ball format is most popular among more advanced golfers. Each player plays his or her own ball for each hole, but at the end of each hole, the lowest score among the four players is counted toward the teams overall score. Best Ball also allows you to count two balls on each hole, which keeps all players involved.




The Bingo-Bango is the most popular format for golf associates and league tournaments. All shots are taken in order of who is furthest from the pin. Players are rewarded for three things on each hole: the player in the group to get onto the green receives 1 point, the closest player to the pin once all group members are on the green receives 1 point and the first player to hit the ball in the cup receives 1 point.


Golf Marathon (Golf-a-Thon)



The Golf Marathon has become a very popular idea for charity golf events. Golfers play 100 holes of golf and the key is for each player to collect a certain amount of donations for your cause. Organizations ask golfers to contact friends, colleagues and family members for donations. If golfers raise a certain amount, they might be able to play for free.





All golfers begin the round with a set number of strokes and then play the golf course until they run out of strokes. The golfer who makes it farthest with his or her number of strokes is the winner and that is where their flag is placed to indicate where their final shot was played. This is a popular format used in league play and it is a staple of women’s golf.


Alternative Shot


The Alternative Shot uses a two-person team format where the team alternates who hits each shot while playing the same ball. The team also alternates who tees off on each hole.



Modified Stableford



The Modified Stableford format can be played by individuals or as a team. The score on each hole is worth a certain amount of points with the idea being to receive the highest score. Points are won or lost based on this system:

  • Double eagle = 8 points

  • Eagle = 5 points

  • Birdie = 2 points

  • Par = 0 points

  • Bogey = -1 point

  • Double bogey or worse = -3 points


Chapman Foursome



The Chapman Foursome merges several formats into one, which has 2-person teams competing against one another. Both golfers tee off and then switch balls for their second shot. They then select the one best ball after their second shots and continue to play alternative shots until the ball ends up in the hole.






The Greensomes format is also known as Modified Pinehurst or Scotch Foursomes. It is similar to the Chapman Foursome format where there are 2-person teams, except there is no switching of the balls after the teammates’ drives. Both golfers on the team hit drives, the best of the two drives is selected and then they alternate shots from that point into the hole.



Devil Ball/Money Ball/Yellow Ball



This particular golf format is known by many different names including Devil Ball, Money Ball and Yellow Ball. When using this format, the responsibility is put on one team member per hole, who must contribute his or her score to the team score.

Two scores are taken into account to form the team score – the score of the designated golfer playing the hole and the lowest scoring team members score. The designated golfer rotates from hole to hole to give each member an equal chance to take the responsibility for the score. This is typically played with 4-person teams.






A Quota Tournament is also known as “Chicago” where golfers earn points based on their plays at each hole. The objective is to receive enough points to beat the pre-set goal. Golfers earn points on each hole through bogeys, pars, birdies and eagles; bogeys add 1 point, pars add 2 points, birdies add 4 points and eagles add 8 points.

When a running a Quota Tournament, the pre-set score will vary – each golfer can either begin with points and try to beat 36, or handicap is subtracted from 36 and the golfer begins at zero. The golfer who meets and exceeds his or her quota by the largest amount is the winner.






The Maxwell format is played with 5 team members. At the end of each hole, the worst score is thrown out so the team score is just a total of the other four scores in relation to par.


As what you've seen, some formats are more fun and some are more laid back, while others are more formal and serious. Choose the format you know all participants will enjoy!

Choosing the right format is a huge factor in the success of your tournament. If done right, you're sure to create a meaningful experience for the participants and the event sponsors.

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