Golf is a sport rich in traditions, rules, and formats, offering players an assortment of ways to enjoy the game. While Stroke Play and Match Play might be the most commonly known and widely played formats, there are various other fun and team-oriented games to explore.
Among these, the Scramble vs Best Ball (also known as Four-Ball) formats stand out as favorites, especially during charity events, corporate outings, and club tournaments. Foursomes, also known as Alternate Shot, is another popular team game that is truly a team game that can give you a unique twist to your golf experience. Despite their popularity, there’s often confusion surrounding the distinctions between the three.
What Are The Different Types Of Golf Games?
Golf boasts a wide array of formats and games, catering to players of all skills and preferences. Here are some popular formats and games:
Stroke Play (or Medal Play)
This is the most common format, where players count the total number of shots taken over a round (or multiple rounds) to determine the winner.
Two players (or two teams) compete hole by hole. The side with the fewest strokes on an individual hole wins that hole. The match is decided by whoever wins the most holes.
A team format, usually consisting of 2, 3, or 4 players. All members of a team tee off and then choose the best shot, from which they all play again. This process is repeated until the ball is holed.
Best Ball (or Four-Ball)
Played in teams of two. Each player plays his or her ball, and the best score on each hole counts towards the team’s total.
Foursomes (or Alternate Shot)
Played in teams of two. Players alternate hitting the same ball, starting with one player teeing off on odd-numbered holes and the other on even-numbered holes.
Players earn points based on their score on each hole relative to par. The aim is to accumulate the highest number of points.
Similar to Stableford but with different point values for various scores. Often used in professional events like the Barracuda Championship.
Bingo Bango Bongo
The name alone makes you want to give it a go. Points are awarded for three things on each hole: being the first to get onto the green, being closest to the pin once all balls are on the green, and being the first to hole out.
Players or teams compete for a prize (or “skin”) on each hole. If there’s a tie on a hole, the skin carries over to the next hole.
Scramble vs Best Ball (Four-Ball) vs Foursomes
Scramble is typically played with teams of two to four players, although two-player scrambles are common.
All players on a team tee off, hitting their respective drives. After the drives, the team selects the best shot (drive) among them. All team members then drop their balls at that spot and play their second shots. This process continues until the team holes out. The team records a single score for each hole, which is the number of shots taken to hole out using this best-shot progression.
The Scramble format is especially friendly for players of varied skill levels. Since only the best shots are taken, lesser-skilled players can contribute without the pressure of having every shot count. This format tends to yield lower scores, which can be fun and encouraging for all participants.
Best Ball (Four-Ball)
Best Ball is played with teams of two players, although adaptations can be made for larger teams.
Each player on the team plays their ball throughout the hole, much like a standard round of golf. At the end of the hole, the lowest score (or “best ball”) between the teammates is recorded as the team score for that hole. For instance, if Player A scores a 5 and Player B scores a 4, the team’s score for that hole would be a 4.
The Best Ball format allows every player to play their own game, contributing to the team with their best holes. It gives a sense of individual contribution while still emphasizing the team aspect. It’s an excellent format for players who want to experience the full range of the course but with a competitive team element.
Foursomes (Alternate Shot)
Foursomes is a format of team play in golf that involves two teams, with two players on each team. It’s also commonly known as “Alternate Shot.”
Each team decides which player will tee off on the odd-numbered holes and which one on the even-numbered holes. After the chosen player tees off, his or her partner plays the next shot. Players then continue to alternate shots for the rest of the hole. For example, if Player A tees off, then Player B would hit the second shot, Player A would hit the third, and so on until the ball is holed. And the team’s score for a hole is the number of strokes taken to complete the hole with the alternating shots.
Advantages and Strategy
Unlike Scramble, Foursomes is a game that calls for players with similar golf skills. Foursomes can be a challenging format as it requires a different strategic approach compared to individual play. Since each player only hits half the total shots (excluding putts), it’s essential to play conservatively and avoid mistakes that could put the partner in a difficult position. Communication and understanding between partners can play a significant role in success.
Foursomes and Best Ball are popular formats in team competitions, notably in the Ryder Cup, which are featured alongside Singles (individual match play).
While both Scramble and Best Ball are team formats that focus on leveraging the best aspects of each player’s game, they differ significantly in their play method.
Scramble is all about collective team play with every shot, capitalizing on the best shot at each stroke. In contrast, Best Ball is about individual performance within a team setting, relying on the best score of the hole. Lastly, Foursomes is a unique format that requires precise teamwork and strategy, with players taking turns to hit shots.
Choosing between the three often depends on the event’s objective and the participants’ preference:
- For a more relaxed, inclusive environment, especially with golfers of varying abilities, a Scramble might be the way to go.
- If you’re looking for a format that still champions individual play while emphasizing team competition, Best Ball is a top pick.
- And Foursomes would suit players with similar golf skills and a more challenging, strategic game.
Each of these formats brings its own fun and challenges, making them popular choices for team play among golfers of all levels. So next time you’re planning a team golf outing, consider trying out one of these exciting formats! Happy golfing! ⛳️