Add a little competition to your golf outing with some of the most popular golf formats:

Four-Person Scramble

Divide players by handicap into four groups labeled A, B, C, and D, making the A player the low handicap and the group captain (or let the group pick its own captain). Each player hits a drive, and the captain decides which is the best. Each player then plays the second shot from this position. The best second shot is determined, and the third shots are played from that spot. Continue until the hole is completed. Typically, each player must contribute at least two drives to prevent one team with a very good player from dominating. If the ball is in a hazard when selecting a shot, it cannot be removed and played from outside the hazard. Otherwise, the ball can be moved within one club length. On the green, as soon as one player putts out, the team has putted out.

Two-Person Scramble

Play the same game with two people per team.

Best Ball

Obtain the score for the foursome at each hole by taking the lowest score, either on a gross (without handicap) or net (with handicap) basis. Each player plays his own ball.

Better Ball

This is like Best Ball, but the team is made up of two competitors.

Two Best Ball

Requires that the team record the two best scores in the foursome.

Low Ball/Low Total

One point is awarded on each hole for the lowest individual score, and one point for the lowest team score.


A bet or wager has three parts: the winning total on the front nine, the winning total on the back nine, and the winning total score. This is commonly played as a team event in the Better Ball format.

Sometimes you'll hear, “Let's play a Nassau with automatic two-down presses.” A press is an additional bet that's usually started when a team or individual is two holes down. If it is not automatic, the down team will announce on the tee that it is pressing, and its opponents have to accept before the bet is consummated.


A hole-by-hole wagering system in which the lowest score on each hole wins. If there is a tie, the amount of the wager rolls over to the next hole until someone or a team wins a hole.

Stroke Play

The total number of strokes used determines the winner.

Scotch Foursome

This game requires that every team member play the same ball, alternating shots.

Match Play

Used in a variety of formats (including Best Ball, Better Ball, foursomes, and singles), each hole is an individual competition, with the goal being to win the most holes.

Specialty Contests

Four of the most popular specialty contests are Long Drive (the person with the longest drive in the fairway); Closest to the Pin; Straightest Drive (for the player who hits it the longest, but also nearest to a chalk line in the center of the fairway); and Longest Putt.

Bill Colvin is President, Golf, at MarComm Golf, Cleveland. He can be reached at (216) 696-9511, or at