Golf Tournament Types

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Golf Tournament Types

By: Brian Neufeld, Contributor

Nothing beats the excitement and pressure-packed moments of tournament golf. Every stroke seems to count for more, and every mistake is magnified. The good news is you don’t have to be Brooks Koepka or Dustin Johnson to experience these intense moments. Playing in a tournament is a great way to mix up your golfing routine, and playing in a different format typically leads to thrilling rounds for most involved regardless of the final outcome. With all the different formats, it can easily get confusing for the casual golfer. Let’s look at a few of the most used golf tournament formats.


The proverbial golf tournament format is the scramble. This format works for groups of any size, and can also be played as a one-man event. In a scramble, each member of the group plays their own ball, and the group decides the best ball to hit the next shot from. In a one-man scramble, each golfer hits two shots each time and plays the preferred ball between the two. A popular variation to the scramble format is a shamble. In a shamble, everyone in the group hits from the tee. The group decides the best drive to play from, and everyone finishes the hole with their own ball from that drive. Shamble formats can often feel more like a true round for the golfer than a scramble.

Best Ball or Four-Ball

Often confused with the scramble format, best ball or four-ball is often played in more competitive circles. Usually teams of two, both members play their own ball for the entire hole. At the end of the hole, the best score between the two is recorded as the team score. Many cities and individual courses host best ball championships each year.


Other than career earnings, Stableford scoring is the only time high numbers are good on the golf course. Usually seen a couple of times a year on the PGA tour, the goal in Stableford scoring is to have the most points at the end of the round. Double bogeys or worse are zero points, bogeys are worth one point, pars worth two points, and so on. The main benefit of this scoring system is to prevent golfers from giving up after an early bad hole, and can easily be used in conjunction with a scramble or other format to really bring some intrigue to the final results.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tournament formats. Almost every course has its own unique events or setups, and holidays are often a time to play in some extremely creative tournament designs. Tournament golf is a fun and exciting change of pace to your normal weekend round and experiencing new ways to play is always rewarding.

About the Author: Brian Neufeld

Brian Neufeld’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in golf course management, specializing in agronomy. Brian uses his knowledge of the game and best practices in turf sustention to create informative pieces for’s readers.

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