Glossary – game formats

Glossary of golf names and terms relating to game formats in golf. Items are listed alphabetically.

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A-C   .   D-F   .   G-H   .   I-Q   .   R-Z

 

 

2-Person Best Ball see Four Ball

 

Alternate Shot see Foursome

 

Ambrose
A format of golf competition that is a variation of Scramble. In Ambrose the adjusted Playing Handicap of a team is calculated by dividing the total of all Course Handicaps of a team by two times the number of players in a team. A Playing Handicap for 2-person team is ¼ of the combined handicap, for 3-person team 1/6 and for a 4-person team 1/8 of the combined Course Handicaps of all team members.

 

American Foursome see Chapman

 

Best Ball (Best-Ball)
A format of golf competition of teams, comprised of two, three or four players (partners). Each player on the team plays his (or her) own ball throughout the round. At the conclusion of each hole², the best score among the partners on each team is that team’s score. Best Ball is usually played as Stroke Play, but it can be played as Match Play, when a single player compete against a 2- or 3-person team playing their best ball.

 

Best Nines see Nassau

 

Better Ball see Four Ball

 

Bingo Bango Bongo (Bingle Bangle Bungle)
A bet format played that can be played by two, three or four players in one group. On each hole² three types of achievements are rewarded with one point. The first point (bingo) goes to the player who first get his ball on the green. The second point (bango) goes to the player whose ball is closest to the hole¹ after all balls have landed on the green. The third point (bongo) goes to the player who first puts the ball in the hole. The player with the highest total number of points wins the competition or the wager.

“The first” means the ball which landed on the green or in the hole earlier than all other balls, the number of strokes doesn’t matter at all. So it is important to play in the proper order in this game. The player furthest from the hole shoots first and the player with lowest score on a hole has honor on the next tee (important on par-3 holes).

 

Bogey Competition
A scoring system of Stroke Play in which the sides (players or teams) award points on each hole². The points are awarded on either a net or gross basis in relation to the bogey at each hole: 1 point for a score lower than bogey, 0 for a bogey and -1 point for a score higher than bogey. The side with the highest total number of points wins.

 

Canadian Foursome see Greensome

 

Captain’s Choice see Texas Scramble

 

Chapman
A format of golf competition in which two teams, comprised of two players (partners) each, compete against each other. Both partners hit tee shots, swap positions and hit the second stroke (partners hit the teammate’s ball). Then they select which ball they prefer (teams sometimes choose the better ball based on who will get to hit the third). The player whose ball was not selected, plays the third stroke and they play alternate strokes for the rest of the hole² as in Foursome. Penalty strokes do not affect the order of play. Chapman can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play. Other names: Pinehurst, American Foursome.

 

Criers and Whiners see No Alibis

 

Do-Over see Mulligan

 

Flags
A format of golf competition played as Stroke Play in which each side (player or team) gets a  small flag and an allotment of strokes. The number of strokes is usually calculated as par plus a portion (1/2, 2/3 or 3/4) of the side’s Course Handicap. The competitors play the course until their strokes run out and they place flags at the point at which their balls finally land. The side which stakes its flag the farthest around the course wins the competition.

 

Foursome
A format of golf competition in which two teams, comprised of two players (partners) each, compete against each other. Each team shares one ball, which players hit alternately. The first player tees off, the second player hits the second stroke, the first player hits the third stroke, and so on until the ball is holed. Penalty strokes do not affect the order of play. Players alternate hit tee shots, so the first player tees off on the odd numbered holes², the second player on the even holes. Foursome can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play. Other names: Alternate Shot, Scotch Doubles.

 

Four Ball (Four-Ball)
A format of golf competition in which two teams, comprised of two players (partners) each, compete against each other. All four players play their own ball throughout the round. At the conclusion of each hole², the lower of the scores among the two partners is recorded as the team score for that hole. Four Ball can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play. Other names: Better Ball, 2-Person Best Ball.

 

Greensome
A format of golf competition in which two teams, comprised of two players (partners) each, compete against each other. Both partners hit tee shots and they select which ball they prefer. The player whose ball was not selected, then plays the second stroke and they play alternate strokes for the rest of the hole² as in Foursome. Penalty strokes do not affect the order of play. Greensome can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play. Other name: Canadian Foursome.

 

Gruesome
A format of golf competition in which two teams, comprised of two players (partners) each, compete against each other. Both partners hit tee shots and (unlike Greensome) their opponents select which ball they should play. The player whose ball was not selected, then plays the second stroke and they play alternate strokes for the rest of the hole² as in Foursome. Penalty strokes do not affect the order of play. This format is a variation of Greensome and can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play.

 

Match Play
A form of competition and scoring system in which two sides (players or teams) play every hole² as a separate contest against each other. The party with the lower score (strokes and penalty strokes) wins the hole, regardless of how many strokes he won the hole by. Opponents compete to win individual holes, and the side who wins more holes than the other wins the match. The gross or net scores on holes can be applied.
read more about Match Play …

 

Maximum Score
A form of stroke play where the maximum number of strokes a player can score on each hole² is limited and must be clearly specified in the Terms of the Competition.
read more about Maximum Score …

 

Medal Play see Stroke Play

 

Mulligan
The custom of hitting a second ball from the tee after a poor first shot without penalty stroke. Not allowed in qualifying round. Other name Do-Over.

 

Nassau
A format of golf competition and a bet format in which sides (players or teams) compete in three tournaments or wagers in one: the front nine, the back nine and the 18-hole round. Each of these three parts are scored as a separate competitions. The sides with the best score on the front nine, on the back nine and over the full 18-hole round win three separate prizes (or wagers). Nassau can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play. Any type of scoring is possible: individual or team, Foursome, Four Ball, Scramble, Greensome etc. Other name: Best Nines.

 

No Alibis
A golf competition played as Stroke Play in which instead of using Handicap Indexes in the normal fashion, mulligans can be used from any point on the course. The players’ Handicap Indexes are converted into free strokes that are used during a round. The game can be played with full handicaps, 3/4 or 2/3 of the Course Handicaps. Everyone then plays off scratch and the lowest score wins. Usually there are additional conditions: the first tee shot may not be replayed, the second shot must be used when replaying (player can’t decide to play his first ball) and no shot can be replayed twice. Other names: Wipe Out, Play It Again Sam, Criers and Whiners.

 

Par Competition
A scoring system of Stroke Play in which the sides (players or teams) award points on each hole². The points are awarded on either a net or gross basis in relation to the par at each hole: 1 point for a score lower than the par, 0 for a par and -1 point for a score higher than the par. The side with the highest total number of points wins. Other name: V-Par.
see the table …

 

Patsome
A format of golf competition that is a combination of three other formats. The teams, comprised of two players (partners) each play the first six holes in Four Ball, the next six in Greensome and the last six in Foursome format.

 

Pinehurst see Chapman

 

Play It Again Sam see No Alibis

 

Portuguese Caddy
A golf competition played in any format in which players are allowed to move their balls by kicking it at any point on the course without penalty. Usually the number of allowed kicks relates to the players’ Course Handicaps (full, 3/4, 2/3 or 1/2 of the handicap). Sometimes the Committee specifies a fixed number of kicks allowed, the same for all players. Portuguese Caddy can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play.

 

Scotch Doubles see Foursome

 

Scotch Foursome
The variation of the regular Foursome. The only difference is that the alternate shot is carried on from hole² to hole. If the first partner holes out on the green then the second partner tees off on the next hole and so on throughout the round.

 

Scramble
A format of golf competition of teams, comprised of two, three or four players (partners). Each player on the team plays his (or her) own ball throughout the round. All partners hit tee shots, they select which ball they prefer, and the players whose balls were not selected pick up their balls and move them to that location. All partners then play their second stroke from that spot and repeat procedure until any ball is holed in. Usually the lifted balls are placed within one scorecard’s width or one putter head of the selected position. In regular Scramble (unlike Texas Scramble) there are no driving requirements – one player might have his tee shot selected on every hole. Scramble can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play.

 

Single
The classic format of golf competition of single players, that can be played off scratch or full handicap difference as Match Play or Stroke Play.

 

Skins
A bet format played as Match Play in which each hole² is worth a given amount of points or money. A wager (a skin) is made on each hole. The skin is awarded to the player who wins the hole outright. If the best score for the hole is achieved by more than one player the skin is added to the wager of the next hole. In the event that two or more golfers halve the final hole, a playoff begins until one golfer wins a hole outright.

 

Stableford
A scoring system of Stroke Play in which the sides (players or teams) award points (Stableford points) on each hole². The points are awarded on either a net or gross basis in relation to the par at each hole: 1 point for a bogey, 2 for a par, 3 for a birdie, 4 for an eagle and 5 for an albatross. The side with the highest total number of points wins.
see the table …

 

String (Stringball)
A format of golf competition played as Stroke Play in which each side (player or team) gets a length of string instead of handicap strokes. The length of the string depends on the side’s Course Handicap, usually 12 or 20 inches per handicap point. Competitors can use the string to remove their balls from penalty areas, get it out of a difficult lie or to hole out. The players at any point in the round can move the ball without penalty to any new position and cut off the length of string equal to the distance they away from where the ball had previously come to rest. After moving the ball from its position, that length of string is no longer available. Such moving procedure can be repeated until the string is gone.

 

Stroke Play
A form of competition and scoring system in which the sides (players or teams) play the nominated amount (1 – 4) of rounds. Each stroke the side takes and penalty strokes are tallied and makes up its final score. The side with the lowest total score (gross or net) wins. Other name: Medal Play.
read more about Stroke Play …

 

Texas Scramble
A format of golf competition of teams, comprised of two, three or four players (partners). Each player on the team plays his (or her) own ball throughout the round. All partners hit tee shots, they select which ball they prefer, and the players whose balls were not selected pick up their balls and move them to that location. All partners then play their second strokes from that spot and repeat procedure until any ball is holed in. Usually the lifted balls are placed within one scorecard’s width or one putter head of the selected position. In Texas Scramble (unlike regular Scramble) at least the appointed number (usually 4 or 6) drives of each player must be used during the round. Texas Scramble can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play. Other name: Captain’s Choice.

 

Three Ball (Three-Ball)
A format of Match Play competition in which three players play alone, each playing his (or her) own ball. Each member of the group plays individual matches against the other two members, so he (or she) plays two separate matches in one round of golf.

 

Threesome
A format of golf competition in which one golfer competes against a team of two golfers. The single player plays his own ball, the team players hit alternately. The first player of the team tees off, the second player hits the second stroke, the first player hits the third stroke, and so on until the ball is holed. Penalty strokes do not affect the order of play. Team members plays alternate tee shots, so the first player tees off on the odd numbered holes², the second player on the even holes. Threesome can be played as Match Play or Stroke Play.

 

V-Par see Par Competition

 

Wipe Out see No Alibis

 

back to: Scoring

update: January 2021