Golf Game Variations

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Getting bored? Try some Variations of your Game

Golf Game Variations

[Click HERE to download a printable version of the Golf Game Variations. Print it and take it to the Golf Course, bring some extra copies for your buddies!]

Here’s a list of some commonly played variations of the usual game of golf. Click on any of the following links to find out some details:

Single Stroke

Single Stroke or Medal play is the simplest of all variations. The game requires all
strokes to be counted and players are unable to pick up the ball without penalty. The
score for the 18 holes is tallied and the handicap is deducted from that total. The
lowest score wins, both for gross and nett.

Four-Ball Best-Ball Stroke

Played the same as the single version but you have a partner. The best nett score on
each hole is used and only the gross and the best nett need to be scored on each hole.

Once a player cannot beat his partner’s nett score, then the ball should be picked up.
If both players record the same nett score, then the player who first holed-out is marked
on the card as scoring.

Both player’s names and handicaps must be on the card. The card need only to be signed
by one marker and one player from each pair. The lowest point score wins.

Single Stableford

Each player scores stableford points on a hole based on their handicap and the stroke
index for the hole. During the round, each player and marker has to calculate the points
allocated to each score on a hole based on the stroke index. A player on a handicap of 12
receives a shot on the 12 hardest holes, while a player on a 27 handicap receives 2 shots
on 9 holes and 1 shot on 9 holes, based on the course index.




with no


with one


with two


with three

3 under par





2 under par





1 under par










1 over par





2 over par




3 over par



4 over par


> 4 over par

You mark both the stroke score and stableford points on the card, and the highest point
score wins. Only the stableford points are tallied.

Four-Ball Best-Ball Stableford

The team version of a single stableford. The scoring is the same as the single event
but only one player can score for each team on a hole. The score is the best result in the
team. When the two partners score the same result then the score is marked for the player
who holes out first. If a player cannot beat the partner’s score the ball is picked up to
speed up play.

The stableford points only are tallied and the highest score wins. Only one player and
one marker from each team need sign the card.

Four-Ball Aggregate Stableford

A team version of single stableford where all scores count on every hole. Each player
must record a score on each hole and the scores of both players are added together for the
total points each hole. The result for the round is then calculated and recording by
adding the total point scores for each hole. The points scoring system is the same for a single stableford.

The highest point score wins the competition.

Single Versus Par (VSS)

Scores are recorded only as plus (+), Minus (-) or halved (0). The easiest way to
understand it is to compare it with stableford scoring.



3 points or greater

Plus (+)

2 points


Less than 2 points


The scores are recorded by marking down the player’s stroke score with the appropriate
symbol (+/ -/ 0). If a player is unable to score a Plus (+) or Half (0) then the player should
pick up and mark the hole as Minus (-). The final score is calculated by comparing the
pluses and minuses as they negate each other. Thus a player with 6 pluses and 3 minuses
would score 3 for the round.

The highest score wins the competition.

Four-Ball Best-Ball Versus Par

Played under the same rules as the single version but this team game allows both
partners to contribute according to their handicaps and score on a hole.

Only the best result on each hole is counted and if the two players have the same
result only the score of the player who holes out first needs to be recorded.

The highest score wins the competition.


Ambrose is played in teams of two, three or four. The team selects a captain on the tee
(usually the lowest marker) and they decide on the order of play. Every subsequent shot
must be played in the same order. The players then play a shot from the tee and proceed to
their ball. The captain then decides on the best positioned ball and the other players
retrieve their balls.

The player whose ball was chosen has the first shot and then each remaining player
drops their ball within one club length of the spot, but no nearer the hole, and plays
their next shot in the order originally decided by the captain. This procedure continues
irrespective of whether the ball is on the fairway, in the rough or in a hazard, until the
play reaches the green.

On the green, the best position is again decided upon and marked. Each player the
places their ball within a card length of this spot and has one putt in turn. They must
not putt out, but each ball position must again be marked and the procedure repeated until
a ball is holed, or a score cannot be bettered.

The card is marked as for a single stroke round and the lowest score wins the
competition. It is important to note that every player must have their handicap marked on
the card. Only one score is kept for the entire team, regardless of the number of members.
Handicaps are calculated by adding those of all players and dividing the total by: 4 in a
two-ball event, 6 in a three-ball event and 8 in a four-ball event. The nett score is
calculated by subtracting the exact resulting handicap so all those fractions count.


This a team game played in pairs with only one ball in play. Players alternate between
shots after teeing off. The tee shots are also taken alternately so that one player tees
off on all the even numbered holes and the other player tees off on all the odd numbered

In mixed competitions ladies tee off from their own tees. It is played and recorded as
if a single stroke event. The handicaps of both players are added and half the total is
the team handicap for the day. The order of play is not changed if a player incurs a

Canadian Foursomes

Played on half combined handicaps. The players both tee off every hole and then select
the best positioned ball to play alternately from there. Rules are the same as for foursomes.

American Foursomes

Similar to the Canadian foursomes on half combined handicap. after the tee shot,
players play their partner’s ball, then select one ball to play alternately until holed.

Chapman Foursomes

Similar to American Foursomes but the second shots on each hole are played with their
own ball and then the selection made. Again, half combined handicaps are used.


Holes are either won, halved or lost, based on the nett score of each hole. The
handicap is applied using the matchplay index on the scorecard. The two competitor’s
handicaps are compared and the difference e.g. 14 – 6 = 8, is the number of strokes given
away. The number of holes where one stroke is allocated is then decided, according to the
match index.

When a player is ahead on wins more than there are holes left to play, that player is
declared the winner. It’s important to remember in matchplay that the player furthermost
from the hole always plays first. This is especially true on the putting green. You must
not putt out if your opponent’s ball is still "live" and furthest away from the

You may pick your ball up if your opponent is heard to "give you the putt".
The scorecard is generally not used.

Four-Ball Handicap Matchplay

The rules are the same as with single matchplay, but the handicap differences are based
on the lowest handicapped player in the two pairs.

The lowest marker goes back to scratch. Then the other players have their handicaps
lowered by subtracting the handicap of the low marker. For example, four players with the
following handicaps would be treated like this.

A: 15 handicap
B: 13 handicap
C: 3 handicap
D: 22 handicap

C is the low marker and would have a new handicap of Zero.

The other new matchplay handicaps would then be:

A: 15 – 3 = 12
B: 13 – 3 = 10
D: 22 – 3 = 19

The side which wins a hole is then the side with the best nett score on a hole after
comparing the adjusted matchplay handicaps to the matchplay index on the holes (see

Flag Competitions

A player or side is allocated a set number of shots based on the total of their
handicap and par for the course. For example, a player on a handicap of 14 would have 85
shots if the par for the course is 71.

The object of the game is to play every shot until you run out of shots. The winner is
the player who gets the furthest around the course or furthest past the first tee if they
have shots left after 18 holes. A flag is generally used as a marker to designate the
finishing point.

Bisque Bogey

In this game, the competitor is allowed to choose whether or not they will allocate any shots to the hole. Time to choose is only between leaving the green and teeing off the next tee. The competitor must mark on
the card how many shots are to be used before starting the hole. Competitor may take as many or
as few shots as he/she wishes as long as he/she does not complete the 18th with shots
remaining. Once the handicap is used
up, no more shots can be allocated. Scoring is based on Single
Versus Par

Turkey Shoot (also called Turkey Scamble)

The general way in a tournament is for two person teams to play a mix of golf variations:

  • holes 1-6 scramble

  • holes 7-12 alternate shot

  • holes 13-18 best ball