Popular Golf Tournament Formats

Choosing the golf tournament format can make or break your charity golf event.

We suggest talking to people on your organizing committee and check with us here at Flowing Springs Golf Greens.

You will also want to consider who your audience is, as some formats are fun and more laid back while others are more formal and serious. Your best bet will be to choose a format players are familiar with so they will thoroughly enjoy your charity golf tournament or fundraising golf event.

The Scramble

The most common golf tournament format used with fundraising events and business-related golf is called a “scramble”. It’s often often called the “four-man scramble” or “Florida scramble”. This popular tournament allows a team of four to select the best shot in each individual series of hits. Then the entire foursome will take their next shot from this location. This pattern continues to the end of each hole. Keep in mind that when playing a scramble, you can drop your ball within one club length from where the chosen ball lies, but no closer to the hole. The advantage of a scramble golf tournament format is that each team will get its best possible score while wasting no time trying to locate balls hit into trees, sand traps, creeks, etc. The Scramble is usually played with teams of four, but can be played with more team members or as little as two per team.

Best Ball

This popular golf tournament format is popular with more advanced golfers who like to play their own ball. This format is also called “Four Ball Format” as well as “1-2-3 Best Ball Format”. Best Ball is usually played with four-person teams. Each player on the team plays his or her own ball for each hole, just as you would in a typical game of golf. However, at the end of each hole, the lowest score among the four players counts as the team score. There can be two best ball formats, where you must count two balls on each hole. The more balls that count helps keep all of the players involved in the fate of the team.

Alternate Shot

This golf tournament format (also called “Foursomes”) involves two-person teams and is a competition where the team alternates who hits each shot while playing the same ball. The first player hits the drive, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. The team also alternates who tees off on each hole, so the same player doesn’t hit every drive. Other variations of this format are known as “Odds and Evens” and “Scotch Foursomes”.


String events require that each golfer has a length of string, which is determine by the golfer’s handicap. In most situations, the string can be 50 cm per handicap point. The golfers can use the string to improve their lies. So if a golfer has a bad lie near a tree, for example, he can move the ball the length of his string in any direction. The string can be used once per shot.