The Different Golf Tournament Formats

Thinking about putting together your very own golf tournament? No worries if you’re new to this or if you’ve done it before – we’re here to guide you through the exciting world of golf tournaments. It’s like planning a friendly competition where everyone gets to have a blast on the golf course. Each type of tournament adds its own unique twist to the game, making it super enjoyable for everyone involved.

So, let’s dive in and take a closer look about golf tournaments and its few types. By the time you’re ready to host your own, you’ll have all the know-how to make it a truly fantastic event that golfers of all levels will love.

Planning on golf tournament

What are Golf Tournaments?

Golf tournaments are like organized contests where golfers come together to have a friendly competition. There are two main ways this happens: stroke play and match play, which will be further discussed in this article.

In addition, tournaments can be set up in different ways. Sometimes it’s based on age, gender, or how skilled you are. And there are super fancy tournaments that only invite professional golfers who’ve made a name for themselves.

Tournaments usually have four rounds of golf, each with 18 holes. But it can vary – sometimes there are more rounds, sometimes fewer. As the tournament goes on, they often narrow down the players. After the second and third rounds, only the best players get to compete in the final round.

Various Types of Golf Tournament Formats

1. Match Play

Match Play golf tournament

In match play, players pair up for these one-on-one matches.

The winner moves on to the next round, and this keeps happening until only one player is left – the big winner. It’s a format that keeps you excited not only during the game but also for the whole tournament. No wonder match play is a hit in pro tournaments, bringing surprise and excitement that gets everyone hooked. The famous Ryder Cup is a great example of this kind of golf. And even if you’re looking for a relaxed game, match play is a fun choice. It adds something special to the game, making every hole a chance to win. 

2. Stroke Play

In stroke play, instead of facing off directly against opponents, your goal is to score the best overall after completing 18 holes. It’s like a test of your skills against the whole golf course.

There are a couple of ways this format is played. One is called Gross Stroke Play, where you record your individual scores for each hole, and the one with the lowest score wins. It’s the straightforward way to go, just like how professionals compete. On the plus side, it’s the purest form of the game, where you know you’re aiming to beat everyone else on the course. However, there’s no handicap to help you out – your score is your score, good shots and not-so-good ones.

Then there’s Net Stroke Play, which adds a friendly twist. You still record your individual scores for each hole, but here’s where it gets interesting. Your course-adjusted handicap – a number that reflects your skill level – is subtracted from your total score. This reveals your net score, and the player with the lowest net score wins. The cool part is that you’re competing against yourself, trying to improve your own potential. But be aware, this format can favor higher handicaps due to the handicap subtraction, which might lead to some strategic play.

3. Scramble

In a Scramble, teams of 2, 3, or 4 golfers take the stage. Each team member gets a chance to tee off on every hole. Once the initial shots are done, the team evaluates and chooses the best shot from the group. From that spot, everyone plays their next shots. It’s like a golfing relay, where each member contributes to create the best possible outcome for the team. Even putting becomes a collective effort, as all players putt from the same location. 

Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons. On the plus side, Scrambles offer a relaxed atmosphere with less pressure on any individual player. With multiple chances to hit great shots, it’s an ideal format for groups with varying skill levels, making fun the primary focus. However, there’s a trade-off – since individual scores aren’t recorded, it won’t affect your handicap. If you’re someone who seeks personal recognition through scores, you might find Scrambles a bit different.

Scramble golf tournament

4. Best Ball

Gather your golfing buddies and get ready for a team adventure with the Best Ball format. Teams of 2, 3, or 4 players team up to conquer the course together. Each golfer plays their own ball on every hole, and the lowest score in your team becomes the score for that hole. It’s like combining your superpowers to achieve the best results.

Here’s the game plan: Player A scores 4, Player B gets 5, Player C hits 6, and Player D finishes with 7. The team’s score for that hole? A cool 4 (the lowest score). This exciting format spices up professional tournaments, making every shot count and keeping the action intense.

But it’s not just about swinging clubs – strategy comes into play. You’ll make choices to ensure your team shines, deciding when to go big or play it safe. It’s a balance of teamwork and individual skill, adding an intriguing twist to your golfing strategy.

Best Ball offers a blend of friendly competition and group camaraderie. Each player’s performance contributes to the team’s success, creating a unique golfing experience that’s all about teamwork. 

5. Alternate Shot

In this tag team challenge, players on a team take turns hitting the same ball. Picture this: Player A smacks the ball off the tee, Player B takes the next swing, and they keep alternating until the ball finds its home in the hole.

This format works its magic with teams of two or four players. It’s like a dance where partners switch gracefully, testing both teamwork and individual skill. Professionals often embrace alternate shot tournaments, highlighting the unique blend of collaboration and competitiveness.

The magic of alternate shot doesn’t stop at the pros. It’s a format that invites casual players to team up, strategize, and have a blast. As you alternate shots, you’re not just playing the course – you’re playing off each other’s strengths and making the most of every swing. It’s a chance to lean on your partner’s expertise and showcase your own, creating a golfing experience that’s as thrilling as it is collaborative.

6. Bingo Bango Bongo

Get ready to jazz up your golf game with the lively Bingo Bango Bongo format. It’s a golfing adventure that thrives on three exciting moments during each hole:

  1. The first player to hit the green wins a point (Bingo!).
  2. The player closest to the hole once all balls are on the green nabs another point (Bango!).
  3. The first one to sink their putt earns the final point (Bongo!).

This format is like a game within a game, where points add up to make each hole a thrilling challenge. And guess what? It’s not just for the pros – Bingo Bango Bongo is perfect for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy.

Here’s how it rolls: Each hole offers chances to score points, and the golfer with the most points at the end of the round takes the victory. You earn a point for being the closest to the hole with your tee shot (that’s the Bingo!). Then, another point for being the first to safely land your ball on the green (that’s the Bango!). Finally, the player who sinks their putt first clinches the third point (that’s the Bongo!). It’s all about timing, strategy, and a bit of luck.

7. Chapman

This two-person team event is all about teamwork, strategy, and a touch of excitement borrowed from other formats.

First, each member of the team takes a tee shot, and then they switch balls, playing each other’s drives. Next, the team chooses the best second shot and continues from that spot, similar to the thrilling bingo bango bongo style. The twist comes with the third shot – the player whose shot wasn’t selected for the best second shot must take the third shot. From there, the players alternate shots until they successfully hole the ball.

Imagine this scenario, Player A and Player B are a team. They both tee off and then switch to play each other’s tee shots. After selecting the best second shot (let’s say Player B’s), Player A takes the third shot from that spot. The alternating shots continue, with Player B hitting the next shot, then Player A, and so on, until they complete the hole.


Golfers have the exciting option to explore a diverse range of golf tournament formats, designed to elevate the enjoyment factor for players of varying skill levels. Whether you’re teeing off with the classic Stroke Play or delving into the intricacies of the Nassau, rest assured, there’s a format tailored to your preferences. Step onto the greens and immerse yourself in the world of competitive golf, where camaraderie and challenge converge for an unforgettable experience on the fairways. So, grab your clubs, embrace the game’s versatility, and embark on a thrilling golfing journey that caters to every golfer’s delight!