What is Foursomes in Golf

Foursomes in golf is a type of game where two golfers play as partners and share a single golf ball. The partners take alternate shots throughout the round, with one player teeing off on the odd-numbered holes and the other player teeing off on the even-numbered holes. For example, on the first hole, player A will tee off, and then player B will hit the second shot, and they will continue alternating shots until the ball is holed out.

Foursomes is also known as alternate shot, and it is typically played in team competitions such as the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, and President’s Cup. In foursomes, players must work together and strategize their shots to achieve the best possible outcome. It is a challenging format because the partners must trust each other’s abilities and make decisions based on their partner’s strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to the alternating shot format, foursomes also has some unique rules and strategies that make it different from other golf formats. Here are some key features of foursomes in golf:

  • Only one ball is used for the entire round: Unlike in stroke play or four-ball (another team format), each team only uses one ball for the entire round. This means that if one player hits a bad shot, the team must deal with the consequences and try to recover on the next shot. It also means that players must be careful not to lose or damage the ball, as there are no spares available.
  • Players must decide who tees off first: Since one player tees off on odd-numbered holes and the other on even-numbered holes, the partners must decide who will tee off first on the first hole. This decision can be based on a variety of factors, such as who is more comfortable with the first shot, who has a better chance of hitting the fairway, or who wants to take on the pressure of starting the round.
  • Communication and strategy are key: Foursomes requires constant communication between partners to ensure that they are making the best decisions for each shot. Players must consider factors such as the lie of the ball, the distance to the hole, and their partner’s strengths and weaknesses when deciding on a shot. For example, if one player is better at hitting out of the rough, they may choose to aim for a more difficult shot to give their partner a better lie for the next shot.
  • Foursomes can be a mental challenge: The pressure of playing as a team and the need to make strategic decisions on every shot can make foursomes a mentally challenging format. Players must stay focused and patient, even if their partner hits a bad shot or if the round is not going as planned. However, if both players can stay positive and supportive, they can build momentum and gain confidence throughout the round.
  • Foursomes can be played in match play or stroke play formats. In match play, teams compete against each other hole-by-hole, with the team with the lowest score on each hole earning a point. In stroke play, teams compete against the course and the team with the lowest total score at the end of the round wins.
  • In foursomes, there are certain situations where the partners can switch who hits the next shot. For example, if the ball is in a difficult lie or hazard, the partners can decide to switch who takes the next shot to try to improve their chances of making a good shot.
  • Foursomes is a great format for players of different skill levels to play together. Since both players are involved in every shot, it allows less experienced players to learn from their more experienced partner and improve their own game.
  • In some competitions, foursomes is played in combination with another format, such as four-ball or singles. This allows players to showcase their individual skills in addition to their teamwork.
  • One of the biggest challenges in foursomes is maintaining a consistent pace of play. Since both players are involved in every shot, it can take longer to complete a round of foursomes compared to other formats. It’s important for teams to stay aware of their pace of play and be ready to hit their shots when it’s their turn.
  • Foursomes requires a high level of trust between partners. Since each player is responsible for half of the shots, it’s important for partners to have confidence in each other’s abilities and communicate effectively throughout the round. With good communication and teamwork, players can overcome the challenges of foursomes and enjoy a fun and rewarding golf experience.

Foursomes Scoring

Scoring MethodDefinitionAdvantagesDisadvantagesSuitable for
Alternate ShotOne player hits the odd-numbered holes while the other hits the even-numbered holes, and they alternate each shot.It requires teamwork and strategy, making it a great challenge.It can be frustrating if one player is not performing well, and it can be slow play.Experienced golfers who want to challenge their skills.
Best BallEach player plays their own ball, and the team takes the lowest score for each hole.It allows each player to play to their strengths, and it can be a fast-paced game.It can be easy for one player to carry the team, and it may not require as much teamwork as alternate shot.Players of all skill levels who want a competitive game.
Modified Alternate ShotBoth players hit a tee shot, then they choose the best one and alternate shots from there.It allows each player to contribute to the team, and it can be a fun variation of alternate shot.It can be slower play, and it may not be as challenging as traditional alternate shot.Players of all skill levels who want a fun and strategic game.

Rules of Foursomes

RuleExplanationPenalty for Breaking
Order of PlayThe team decides which player will hit first on each hole. On odd-numbered holes, the player who teed off hits the second shot, and vice versa.Two-stroke penalty for playing out of turn.
Ball in PlayOnly one ball is in play per team, and it must be alternated between shots.One-stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball.
Marking the BallThe player who teed off on the previous hole marks the ball on the green, and the other player putts first.One-stroke penalty for not marking the ball.
Conceded PuttsPutts can be conceded by the other team if they deem the putt to be easy enough for the player to make.No penalty for accepting a conceded putt.
Ball Lost or Out of BoundsIf a ball is lost or out of bounds, the team must take a penalty and replay the shot from the original spot.One-stroke penalty for taking relief from a lost ball or out of bounds.

Foursomes Handicaps

Handicap TypeDescription
Team HandicapThe team’s handicap is calculated by adding the two players’ handicaps together and dividing by two. This is then subtracted from the team’s score at the end of the round.
Individual HandicapEach player’s handicap is used to adjust their score on each hole. The player with the lower handicap plays from scratch, while the other player receives a handicap stroke on the hardest holes.
Combined HandicapThe team’s handicap is calculated by adding the two players’ handicaps together. This is then subtracted from the team’s score at the end of the round.
80% HandicapEach player’s handicap is adjusted to 80% of its value, and the team’s handicap is calculated by adding the two adjusted handicaps together and dividing by two. This is then subtracted from the team’s score at the end of the round.
No HandicapNo handicap is used, and the team’s score is the total number of strokes taken during the round.

Foursomes Formats

Format TypeDescription
FourballEach player plays their own ball, and the best score among the two teammates is used as the team score for each hole.
GreensomesBoth players hit tee shots on each hole, and the team selects the best one to play. The teammates then alternate shots until the ball is holed.
PinehurstBoth players hit tee shots on each hole, and then switch balls for their second shot. They then select the best ball and alternate shots until the ball is holed.
ChampagneEach player hits a tee shot on every hole, and the team selects the best one to play. The player who hit the selected tee shot plays the second shot, and the other player plays the third shot. This alternates until the ball is holed.
Scotch FoursomesBoth players hit tee shots on each hole, and the team selects the best one to play. The player who did not hit the selected tee shot plays the second shot, and the teammates then alternate shots until the ball is holed.

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  • Ray Barnes

    Ray Barnes, our Senior Staff Writer and a Golf Analyst with a PhD in Sports Analytics, is a beacon of insight in the golfing world. With a deep understanding of the sport's nuances, statistical analysis, and a talent for demystifying complexities, he provides in-depth analysis and captivating narratives that engage golf enthusiasts worldwide.

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