Games to Play During a Golf Tournament

By Patrick Cameron
A variety of formats that can be used for golf tournaments depending upon skill level and the hoped-for outcome.
A variety of formats that can be used for golf tournaments depending upon skill level and the hoped-for outcome.

Golf tournaments present an opportunity to explore the variety of ways to not only play, but score golf. For tournament organizers several key factors need to be taken in to consideration when determining what type of format you want for your tournament. Chief among these is the skill level and golf ability of those who are going to be playing. Determining whether you are looking for a competitive tournament, or just for a fun one, will help you decide the format that best appeals to all the players involved.


The scramble format is a popular one when you have a golf gathering where you have a diverse set of skill ranges. In non-competitive tournaments, including corporate outings or charity events, a scramble format takes pressure off the less skilled players to contribute to the score as a whole. The scramble format moves play along quickly, with the team, whether that's two, three or four players, playing from the spot of the best hit, including putts. In this way, even if there's only one skilled golfer on the team, the team's score can still be low. Scramble tournaments can also be designed so that at least one shot from every player has to be used per nine holes or 18 holes.

Best Ball

The best ball format does some of the same things as a scramble format but still allows all players to play their own shots. With best ball, each player plays the entire hole. At the end of the hole, after all of the putts are sunk, scores are added up and the best score of all the players on the team for that hole goes on the score card. Best ball tournaments allow for unskilled golfers to play their game without having to deal with the stress of having to card a good score, or even hit a good shot, for the team to stay competitive. More than scramble, best ball tournaments requires at least one skilled golfer to keep the team in contention.


Handicap tournament formats require some pre-tournament logistics. You'll typically see these types of tournaments at golf clubs, with members of the club and other clubs. Each player has a handicap that's determined by rounds played and how many strokes generally shot over par. Their resulting handicap allows them to compete on an even level with scratch golfers because they are given a number of strokes based on their handicap over par golfers. Typically, a handicap is based on 20 rounds of golf. Technically, you could play a handicap system for a corporate tournament as well, relying on an honors system for handicapping skilled players and a high generic handicap for beginners.

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