How to Choose the Right Format for Your Group It's not whether anyone wins or loses, but what type of tournament format you choose that can make or break a corporate golf event. Following are the most common tournament formats and suggestions for when each works best:

Scramble-This is the fastest way to play and the best for beginners. In a scramble, a foursome follows the best ball on each series of shots, including the putt. That is, each player hits a drive, the best drive is selected, then the other three players pick up their balls and hit their second shots from where the best drive landed. (Because the best ball is used each time, this format is often wrongly referred to as "best ball.")

Once the ball is holed, you have your team score for the hole. This format allows the less-experienced golfer an opportunity to contribute in a positive way to the team score. Play is speeded up because errant shots are not played out. A great way to help speed up play even more is to coordinate with the golf course to have the tees moved up for both men and women and to have the pins placed on flat areas or favor the middle of the greens.

Variation: To increase competition and to prevent only the best players from having their shots "count," you can require that two drives from each team member be used.

Two Best Ball-Played by foursomes. Each player plays his own ball. The two lowest scores of the foursome comprise the total for the hole. Add the total for 18 holes and you have your score.

Four Ball-This format is a slight variation of the Two Best Ball format. Each foursome is split into two-person teams. Each of the four players plays his own ball, but the low balls of each team are added together for the score on each hole.

Two Ball-Each foursome is split into two teams. One ball is used by each team, the players alternating in hitting the shots. One person drives at even-numbered holes, the other at odd-numbered holes. One half of the combined handicaps is used.

Handicaps even out the field and should be used when available. If they are not available, have your golf professional or event management company ask the participants what they most often shoot and create an estimated handicap.

Scramble Start-Each person hits a drive, then each second shot is taken from wherever the best drive hit. After that, each player plays his own ball. This format twist expedites play and can be used with most types of tournaments.

Games Within the Game Special competitions are nice additions and are not to be overlooked when planning the format for your event. Use the golf pro or event management contact to help you select a hole for some or all of the following: longest drive, closest to the pin, longest putt, most balls in the water.

Getting Them Started In addition to choosing a format, you'll have to choose how to start the players off on their rounds. This is determined by the number of players, the time of day, and the policy of the golf course. Here are some general rules of thumb:

Groups of up to 32 players (eight foursomes) can use tee times; that is, everyone starts at the first tee.

Groups of 49 to 72 players should use a single shotgun start; that is, each foursome starts at the same time but at a different tee.

Groups of 73 to 144 players should use a double shotgun start, with one or two foursomes starting at each tee.

One tip: Avoid logjams by not starting groups on par-3 holes.