THEFORMAT sets the tone. Sometimes, a golfer's decision about whether to play will be influenced by the format, with experienced players sometimes put off by formats that focus on team play and less experienced players intimidated by more competitive formats. The key is to make the format consistent with the event's objectives and considerate of the players' abilities. Consider these questions:
- How many golfers will be playing?
- Do you want the event to be competitive or casual?
- Do you want to award team or individual prizes?
- How much time do you have?
- What's the level of your players: low handicap, high handicap, or mixed?
The scramble is a clear favorite for casual tournaments. Each foursome is a team, and each team gets just one score per hole. Scrambles are fast, put less pressure on beginning players, and promote teamwork, since every player has a chance to contribute.
Here how it works: To create the foursomes, divide golfers by handicap into four groups, A, B, C, and D (see “Tournament Pairings,” page 31), and assign each foursome an A, B, C, and D player, if possible.
Each player hits a tee shot. The best drive is selected, and all players hit their next shot from there. The process continues until the ball is in the cup.
There is often one other requirement: Each player, regardless of skill level, must contribute at least one drive (sometimes two or three) during the round. This prevents one team with a very good player from dominating.
Variations on the scramble include:
TWO-PERSON SCRAMBLE, which is a scramble played with two-person teams.
SCRAMBLE START, also sometimes called a shamble, where after the tee shot, the best drive is selected and all players hit their next shot from there, but after that, everyone plays their own ball.
Best Ball is the other major tournament format. It is favored by groups in which all golfers are fairly skilled and want to play their own ball. However, it still promotes a team atmosphere. Each player in a foursome plays his or her own ball, but only the lowest (best) score is used.
Variations on Best Ball include:
TWO BEST BALL, in which the two lowest scores in a foursome are combined to make up the team score.
BETTER BALL, which is just like Best Ball but played with two-person teams.
LOW BALL/LOW TOTAL, in which one point is awarded on each hole for the lowest individual score and one point for the lowest team score.
How you start the tournament is determined by the number of players, your time frame, and the policies of the golf course. Here are the four basic starts.
All golfers tee off at the same time, but on different holes. The golfers then rotate through the holes in order, until they return to the hole on which they started. This allows for the entire field to finish at the same time, making food and beverage planning easier. The maximum number of players that can be accommodated with this format is 144 — that's two foursomes per hole (also called a Double Shotgun). However, it's better not to book more than 132 golfers to avoid overcrowding, which will slow down play.
Foursomes are given tee assignments instead of tee times, such as 1A or 11B, signifying the first group playing from hole No. 1 and the second group playing from hole No. 11.
The players all start at the same time but do not occupy the entire course. The resort or club may only consent to this if it can book other golfers on the course as well.
This is when the foursomes tee off in consecutive intervals, typically eight minutes apart, leaving from either the first or 10th hole. This works well for up to eight foursomes.
The foursomes tee off on the first and 10th tees simultaneously. The players on the back nine (holes 10-18) rotate to the front nine to finish their round. This approach is used when there are not enough players for a shotgun start, but you want to consolidate the time between groups finishing the round.