Editor's Note: In anticipation of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, PGA.com will be taking deep dive into Match Play throughout the month of September. From Match Play tips and strategies to stories from local players and everything in between, be sure to come back all month long to get ready for the biennial event.
We see it every two years at the Ryder Cup, or as we did this past week at the Solheim Cup, playing golf in match play vs. stroke play, and in formats such as best ball and alternate shot. Below are a few popular alternative forms of play we often see. Add a few twists and you can make these traditional alternate formats even more fun and interesting.
As displayed in the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup, US Amateur and countless other team and individual events, match play is a format where a player or team plays directly against another player or team in a head-to-head match. A hole is won by having the lowest score on the hole, and a match is won by an individual or team by winning by more holes than remain to be played.
Mix it Up- You can mix up this format by allowing the individual players or team to only be allowed to win a hole by making a certain score…if you are lower handicap players, you could determine that you can only win on a birdie, if you are higher handicap players, you can only win on a par.
A very traditional charity event format. Golfers in a scramble, playing in teams of two or more, all tee off, then one player’s shot is selected as the team’s official stroke. All team members then play their second shots from the selected location and so on until the ball is holed.
Mix it Up- A twist on this format would be to require the team to choose the worst shot from the team, either on the tee shot, approach shot or a combination of these, then play a traditional scramble until the ball is holed.
Not to be confused with a ‘Scramble’ as it so often is, Best Ball is a two-man team event that is played just as the name suggests, using the ‘best’ score on the hole from the two team members as the team score. This format can be played as match play, pitting two-man teams against each other, or it can be a team stroke play event with the total team score winning the event.
Mix it Up- Want to really have some fun in this format? Set a rule where a team must take the worst ball on the par 3’s…or maybe the par 5’s…have fun with it and make it even more interesting!
Another very traditional way to have fun on the course. The skins format is where golfers apply points or a dollar amount to each hole and the lowest score on the hole wins the pot. If any two golfers tie the hole then the point or dollar amount carries over to the following hole.
Mix it Up- There are so many ways to mix it up in this format. One way I have sweetened up our skins games in the past is by focusing on each hole’s handicap, which is the difficulty ranking of the holes on the course…the 1 handicap being the hardest hole and the 18th handicap hole being the easiest. Two things here that are fun…assign the points or dollar amount up for grabs on each hole by the hole’s difficulty…harder holes being worth more and scale back from there. Another fun twist with this would be to play the first 9 handicap holes from the furthest up tees and the last 9 handicap holes from the furthest back tees…or vice versa