The Ambrose

The Ambrose lets all levels of golfers play together, regardless of ability. It helps to promote teamwork because one score is recorded per hole. It also generally minimizes the amount of time spent looking for lost balls.

How It Works

Groups of four players work as a team. Each player hits off the tee, the best shot is selected, and all the other players pick up their balls and place them, within one handspan, alongside the best ball. Each person then hits a second shot from the same spot. The best shot is again selected. This continues until the ball is in the hole. On the putting green, the best ball is marked and the other balls are played from this position. One score is recorded on each hole. This is the sum of the best shots used throughout the hole.

With the Ambrose format, you would expect your gross score to be under or very close to the par of the course. This is because the best of four shots is chosen for each shot. In other words, your group has four chances to hit a good shot. This takes the pressure off less-skilled golfers.

There is often one additional requirement: All players' drives must be used on a set number of occasions. Generally, this is three. So if you have a beginner in your group, it may be prudent to use his or her drives early in the round so as not to add pressure as the end of the game approaches.


  • It promotes teamwork, since every player has a chance of contributing toward the team score.


  • Many people, when playing in a golf event, are playing a course that they have never played before. In this case, they often want to play an individual ball for every shot and record a score for themselves, rather follow than the team-oriented Ambrose format.

  • Surprisingly, the Ambrose can be slow. To help speed things up, it's important to achieve the right mix in each group. In an ideal situation, a team of four should have one player with under a 10 handicap, two with handicaps between 10 and 20, and one with a handicap over 20.

  • Unsubstantiated handicaps can often decide the winner. The so-called beginner (who's not) can give a team an unfair advantage. One way of combating this is to limit the handicap maximum for unofficial handicapped players to 20 for men and 36 for women.

  • Since each team generally consists of four people playing together, there is no independent scorekeeper. Scoring relies on the honesty of the team members.

  • When you purchase prizes, you will need to consider getting four in each prize category, since this is a team competition.

The Stableford

The Stableford format lets individual golfers play the course on their own merits but, in the event of a bad hole, lets them pick up the ball and move on to the next hole. This can help to speed up the round and reduce frustration in golfers who might not be playing well.

How It Works

Stableford can be played as an individual competition, a team competition, or a combination of both.

Golfers are allocated a certain number of points on a hole, depending on the net score of the player (or team). The aim is to accumulate the most points over the course of 18 holes.

Depending on a player's handicap, a certain number of strokes is allocated on each hole. This lets each golfer feel as though they have played the golf course with their own ball. This is often important to participants, especially if they have not played a particular course before.

Once a player has reached a certain number of strokes, the ball can be picked up without penalty. This lets a player who may have been struggling on a given hole to move on to the next hole.


  • Stableford can be a fast format if the experience level of golfers is intermediate or higher. (However, it can be too slow if golfers are beginners.)

  • Points, once scored, cannot be taken away. This helps to relieve pressure on a player who may have started out well, but lost momentum.


  • Beginner golfers may feel intimidated by this format, even though they can pick up their balls after a certain number of strokes.

The Callaway

The Callaway scoring system is used to equalize scores when a group of beginning golfers play in a competition. Depending on the gross score of the player, a number of holes are subtracted from the player's score to arrive at a “net” score.

A player's net score is determined at the conclusion of the round after making adjustments according to the gross score of the player according to the table above.

Callaway Scoring
- - 70 71 72 no holes, no adjustment
73 74 75 - - ½ worst hole
76 77 78 79 80 1 worst hole
81 82 83 84 85 1½ worst hole
86 87 88 89 90 2 worst holes
91 92 93 94 95 2½ worst holes
96 97 98 99 100 3 worst holes
101 102 103 104 105 3½ worst holes
106 107 108 109 110 4 worst holes
111 112 113 114 115 4½ worst holes
116 117 118 119 120 5 worst holes
121 122 123 124 125 5½ worst holes
126 127 128 129 130 6 worst holes
-2 -1 0 +1 +2 adjustment to deduction
Maximum handicap is 50


  • The Callaway equalizes the scores of all golfers in a consistent and fair manner.

  • A few bad holes will not ruin a player's round, as these holes will generally be deducted as a worst hole.


  • The Callaway can be time-intensive and requires some calculation to adjust the score.

  • It requires that golfers each keep a stroke scorecard, which slows down play even more.

SOURCE: Gary Lisbon founded the Australian division of GOLFSelect ( in 1998 when he saw a need for expanded services for the corporate golf market. In addition to selling the FortGolf range of products, his company organizes golf events for groups visiting Australia.