Popular Types of Golf Tournaments Explained

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Are you someone who thinks that all golf tournaments are the same and lack excitement? Well, think again!

In this article, we are going to uncover the fascinating world of golf tournaments and explain the popular types that exist.

From gross and net tournaments that focus on individual performance, to best ball tournaments that emphasize teamwork, and even scramble, shamble, and alternate shot tournaments that require unique strategies, there is a tournament style for everyone.

So, if you’re looking to add some variety to your golfing experience and discover new ways to challenge yourself on the course, this article is for you.

Gross Tournaments

Gross tournaments measure a golfer’s performance solely based on the total number of strokes, disregarding any handicap adjustments. This means that every stroke counts, and there are no allowances made for skill level or handicaps. In a gross tournament, it’s all about your individual performance and how many strokes it takes you to complete the course.

During a gross tournament, players compete in a hole-by-hole competition, aiming to complete each hole in as few strokes as possible. The total number of strokes for all the holes is then added up to determine the golfer’s final score. The player with the lowest score is declared the winner.

Unlike net tournaments, where players can subtract their handicap strokes from their gross scores, gross tournaments don’t take into account any handicaps. This creates a level playing field for all participants, as everyone is judged solely on their own performance without any adjustments. It’s a true test of skill and consistency.

In some gross tournaments, a points system is used to determine the winner. Each hole is assigned a specific point value, and the player with the most points at the end of the tournament takes home the title. This adds an extra layer of strategy and competitiveness to the game.

Net Tournaments

Net Tournaments, unlike Gross Tournaments, take into account a player’s handicap to calculate their final score. In these golf tournament formats, handicaps are a crucial factor in determining the winner. The aim is to level the playing field for golfers of varying skill levels, allowing everyone to compete on a more equitable basis.

In a Net Tournament, each player’s handicap is subtracted from their gross score to arrive at their net score. The player with the lowest net score is declared the winner. This scoring system allows golfers with higher handicaps to be more competitive against those with lower handicaps. It ensures that the outcome of the tournament isn’t solely determined by the number of strokes, but also factors in each player’s skill level.

Net Tournaments are often played in a team format, such as the popular Best Ball format. In Best Ball, teams of two, three, or four players compete against each other. Each player plays their own ball, and at the end of each hole, the team records the lowest score among its members as the team’s score for that hole. This format encourages teamwork and allows players to rely on their teammates’ performance when needed.

Best Ball Tournaments

Looking to test your teamwork and strategic decision-making skills on the golf course? Best Ball Tournaments offer the perfect opportunity for players to come together as a team and showcase their golfing prowess.

In these popular tournaments, teams of two, three, or four players compete against each other. Here’s what you need to know about Best Ball Tournaments:

  1. Lowest Score Counts: In Best Ball Tournaments, each player plays their own ball throughout the round. At the end of each hole, the lowest score among the team members is recorded as the team’s score. This format ensures that teams rely on their best players’ performance while allowing for the occasional bad hole without penalizing the entire team.
  2. Match or Stroke Play: Best Ball Tournaments can be played as either match play or stroke play. In match play, teams compete hole by hole, with the team with the lowest score winning the hole. In stroke play, the team with the lowest overall score at the end of the round is the winner.
  3. Teamwork and Strategy: Best Ball Tournaments encourage teamwork and strategic decision-making. Team members must communicate and strategize to determine the best player to take the lead on each hole. It requires coordination and trust among team members to optimize their chances of achieving the lowest team score.

Best Ball Tournaments are a popular choice for golfers looking to enjoy a team-oriented competition while showcasing their individual skills. So gather your teammates and get ready for an exciting and challenging golfing experience.

Scramble Tournaments

Scramble tournaments, played in teams of 2, 3, or 4, offer a thrilling and collaborative golfing experience. In a scramble tournament, the team selects the best shot from each hole, and all team members then play from that spot. This format encourages teamwork and creates an enjoyable and social atmosphere on the golf course.

Scramble tournaments are known for their exciting and competitive nature. Teams strategize to choose the best shot, often taking into account the strengths of each player. This collaborative approach allows for a diverse range of skills to be showcased and maximizes the team’s chances of success.

One of the popular formats for scramble tournaments is the Texas Scramble. In this format, each player hits their shot, and the team decides which shot is the best. All team members then play their subsequent shots from that spot. This process continues until the ball is holed out. The team with the lowest score at the end of the round is declared the winner.

Another well-known scramble format is the Florida Scramble. Similar to the Texas Scramble, all team members hit their shots, and the best shot is chosen. However, in the Florida Scramble, the player whose shot is selected can’t hit the next shot. This rule adds an extra layer of strategy and fairness to the competition.

Scramble tournaments are a fantastic way to enjoy golf with friends or colleagues. The format fosters teamwork, camaraderie, and friendly competition. So grab your golf clubs, form a team, and get ready for an exciting scramble tournament!

Shamble Tournaments

Shamble tournaments offer golfers an exciting blend of individual performance and team collaboration on the course. Here’s how they work:

  1. Each player tees off individually: In a shamble tournament, every player on the team starts by hitting their own tee shot. This allows golfers to showcase their individual skills and performance right from the start.
  2. Selecting the best tee shot: After each player has teed off, the team then comes together to evaluate the shots and select the best one. This ensures that the team has the best possible starting position for the hole.
  3. Playing individual balls until completion: Once the team has chosen the best tee shot, each player then plays their own ball from that spot until the hole is completed. This allows golfers to continue showcasing their individual skills while still being part of a team.

At the end of the hole, the team records the lowest score among its members. This unique format combines elements of scramble and best ball formats, creating a dynamic and engaging tournament experience for players.

Alternate Shot Tournaments

Now that we’ve explored the exciting blend of individual performance and team collaboration in shamble tournaments, let’s shift our focus to another thrilling team format known as alternate shot tournaments.

In alternate shot tournaments, teams of two players take turns hitting the ball. Unlike other team formats where each player plays their own ball, in alternate shot tournaments, only one team member hits the ball throughout the round. The team selects the best shot after each stroke, and the next team member takes the next shot. This alternating pattern continues for the entire round.

Alternate shot tournaments require excellent teamwork and coordination. Communication between team members is crucial to strategize and make decisions on which shot to select as the best. Each player has a different set of skills, and the challenge lies in leveraging those strengths to achieve the best possible outcome on each shot.

This format adds an element of pressure and excitement to the game. Not only do players have to focus on their own performance, but they must also rely on their partner to make crucial shots. The success of the team depends on the ability to trust and support each other throughout the round.

Alternate shot tournaments are popular in team golf events and offer a unique and strategic approach to the game. They provide an opportunity for players to test their skills in a collaborative setting and showcase the importance of teamwork in golf.

Match Play Tournaments

Match Play Tournaments bring an exciting head-to-head competition to the world of golf, where golfers go hole by hole to determine the winner. In this format, individual hole performance is crucial. Here’s how it works:

  1. Hole-by-hole competition: Unlike stroke play tournaments where the total score matters, match play focuses on the performance of each hole. Golfers compete against each other on every hole, trying to achieve the best score.
  2. Hole score determines the winner: In match play, the golfer with the best score on each hole wins that hole. If one golfer scores a 4 on a hole and the other scores a 5, the golfer with the 4 wins the hole. The overall winner is the golfer who wins the most holes.
  3. Points are awarded per hole: In match play, a point is awarded to the golfer who wins a hole. If the match ends in a tie, each golfer receives half a point. The golfer with the most points at the end of the round wins the match.

Match Play Tournaments add a thrilling element of competitiveness to the game of golf. Each hole becomes a mini-battle, where golfers strive to outperform their opponents. So, the next time you participate in a match play tournament, remember to focus on your individual hole performance and aim to win as many holes as possible to ultimately claim victory.

Stroke Play Tournaments

If you’re looking for a different style of golf tournament that focuses on overall performance rather than head-to-head competition, then stroke play tournaments are the perfect choice. In a stroke play event, individuals or teams compete against the entire 18-hole course. The format involves teams, but the score from each team member is counted individually to determine the overall score.

Unlike match play tournaments where you compete against an opponent hole by hole, stroke play tournaments are about achieving the best overall score. Each golfer’s individual performance is crucial in determining the outcome. The player with the lowest total score at the end of the tournament is crowned the winner.

Stroke play tournaments are common in both amateur and professional golf events. They provide a true test of skill and consistency, as every shot counts towards the final score. Golfers must navigate the course strategically, making thoughtful decisions on each shot to achieve the best possible outcome.

These tournaments involve teams, but the focus is on each player’s performance rather than team dynamics. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skills and compete against a larger field of participants. So, if you’re up for the challenge of an individual-focused tournament where the overall score is what matters, then look no further than a stroke play event.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the 4 Major Golf Tournaments?

The four major golf tournaments are the Masters, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and PGA Championship. You can expect intense competition and prestigious wins at these events, which offer players career boosts and lucrative sponsorship deals.

What Are the 5 Major Championships in Golf?

The five major championships in golf are the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, and the Players Championship. They are prestigious tournaments that attract the best golfers from around the world.

What’s the Difference Between PGA and Majors?

The difference between the PGA and majors is that the PGA Tour is a series of tournaments throughout the year, while the majors are standalone events considered the pinnacle of achievement in professional golf.

What Is the Most Popular Tournament Format According to the PGA Tournament Manual?

The most popular tournament format according to the PGA Tournament Manual is match play. In match play, you compete hole-by-hole, aiming for the best score on each hole. It’s all about head-to-head competition and individual hole performance.


In conclusion, understanding the different types of golf tournaments can greatly enhance your golfing experience. Whether you prefer individual performance or teamwork, there’s a tournament format that suits your skill level and preferences.

From gross and net tournaments to best ball, scramble, shamble, alternate shot, match play, and stroke play tournaments, each format offers its own unique challenges and strategies.

So, explore the exciting world of golf tournaments and take your game to the next level.

What are the popular types of golf tournaments?

This article discusses various types of golf tournaments, including gross and net tournaments, stroke play (medal play), match play, team formats (such as best ball, alternate shot, scramble, and shamble), and other tournament formats like Stableford. It highlights the key features, strategies, and benefits of each format, emphasizing the importance of understanding different tournament styles to enhance enjoyment, competitiveness, and skill development on the golf course.