Today: November 30, 2023 12:38 pm

A Tour of the Tournaments – Different Golf Tournament Formats Around the World

Golf tournaments are a significant source of revenue for golf facilities for various reasons. They provide the excitement of competition and emphasize the significance of each shot in ways that a casual round cannot. A well-organized competition can also drastically improve the experience at your club. With 57% of millennial players stating that sociability and events are an essential aspect of their golf experience and 84% saying that they appreciate golf for its competitive features, it is evident that holding excellent tournaments is critical for long-term success in the golf business. However, organizing golf events is a complex undertaking. There are so many different formats and variations to choose from and knowing which suits your clientele best can be tricky. Do you go traditional and pick stroke play or perhaps for an alternative you could go with a Disc golf tournament? To help you decide, here’s a refresher course that will teach you everything you need to know about the various sorts.


Gross Stroke Play

Players complete their rounds in strokes rather than points in gross stroke play. At the end of a round, each hole is played, each shot is counted, and the total number of strokes is carried forward to the next hole until all holes are completed. Most major golf tournaments employ strokeplay, and on professional circuits, all golfers are treated equally and have a zero handicap. The cumulative score over four rounds determines their winner, with the lowest total getting the prize. In the event of a tie, a playoff over a predetermined number of holes is usually held, or until one of the contestants defeats the score of their opponent/s on any given hole.


Net Stroke Play

Net Stroke Play is the more laid-back brother of Gross Stroke Play, and it is frequently held alongside a gross event with distinct prize pools. Players record a score for each hole, much like in a gross competition. Conversely, the friendly component comes into play at the finish when you remove your course-adjusted handicap from your gross total score to determine your net total score. You don’t have to outperform the rest of the field; you only have to outdo yourself because your handicap is supposed to reflect your potential. This format tends to favor bigger handicaps because there is more room for error when double-digit strokes are deducted from your final score.


Match Play

In match play, two players (or two teams) compete against each other on each hole. The best golf major tournament example of this is the World Match Play event. The party with the lowest score wins the hole, no matter how many shots they win. The hole is halved if both players’ or teams’ scores are equal. The party that wins more holes than the other wins the game. At the club level, matchplay is a widely popular style of competition. You will also find many junior golf tournaments use this format, as it’s sometimes easier to teach young children.

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Best Ball

The Best Ball tournament is contested by teams of two, three, or four players and you can utilize either match or stroke play. Throughout the round, each player has their own ball. The lowest score from each player after each hole is used for their team on that hole. For example, if team 1’s golfer A scores a six while player B scores a five, and team 2’s golfer C scores a four and player D achieves a six, team 1 will take golfer B’s score of five and team 2 will take player C’s score of four. At the end of 18 holes, the team with the lowest-best ball score wins.

Individually, strong players, low handicappers, or scratch golfers could compete against a two or three-person team playing the best ball. Larger groups of three or four players can use the two Best Balls format, in which the top two scores from each team are used as the team’s score per hole.



The scramble is a common format in less formal tournaments. It is a team tournament appropriate for players of all ability levels. Teams are typically made up of four players. Team members choose the best of their previous shots for each stroke and play their next shots from that position. The process is repeated until someone points their ball. The event can be handicapped, although doing so is somewhat challenging. 


Modified Stableford 

A Stableford competition uses a points system outlined in the Rules of Golf. A Modified Stableford is a competition that follows the same premise as a traditional Stableford – golfers are awarded points based on their performance on each hole, with the highest point total winning – but with a different set of points than the regulation describes. Modified Stableford is more well-known than Stableford because it was used in a former PGA Tour tournament, The International. A tournament committee might decide on different point totals for various accomplishments in a Modified Stableford. It can also award different points to different players for similar achievements.



A Maxwell event consists of 5 player teams, with the lowest score thrown out at the end of each hole. The total of the other four scores in relation to par becomes your team score. For example, if the first hole is a par four and the five team members have scores of 3, 4, 5, and 6, the six is thrown out, and the team score is +1 (-1 for the birdie, 0 for the par, +1 for each bogey). Typically, this format is utilized for 5-player teams. However, it can also be used for smaller groups.


Alternate Shot

This golf tournament format (also known as Foursomes) features two-person teams competing by alternating who hits each stroke while using the same ball. For example, the first player hits the drive, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is firmly planted in the hole. The team also rotates who tees off on each hole, so no one player hits every drive.
Alternate Shot



Bottom Line

We began by enquiring as to how golf tournaments operate. And our investigation has revealed that there are various solutions. A golf tournament’s functioning is determined by whether it is an amateur or professional event and the format utilized. While most amateur tournaments use Stableford, most professional tournaments are strokeplay events in which every shot counts. So are you ready to play in the next local golf tournament at your course now that you understand golf tournaments better?


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