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How to play foursomes

How to play foursomes

Also known as Alternate Shot, what is foursomes and how do you play it? Here’s what you need to know about this fun golf format

 

Foursomes is a golf format where two players compete as a team playing a single ball between them in alternating order.

Also known as ‘Alternate Shot’, foursomes is played in many of the huge team events of professional golf, like the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and Presidents Cup.

Foursomes is a fun way to bring a sense of team comradery to the course, requiring extra thought and strategy while helping to speed up play.

How to play foursomes

One player tees off hitting the first shot. Their partner then plays the next shot, with the first player returning to hit the shot after that. This alternation carries on until the ball is eventually in the hole.

Team members also take turns to tee off on each hole, meaning one player tees off on all the even holes and their partner tees off on all the odd holes. This means calling foursomes ‘alternate shot’ is technically wrong, as a player who holes out may also have the honour on the following hole!

As per the R&A rules, either player may take allowed action for their team before a stroke is made, such as marking the ball or dropping and placing it in a penalty situation.

Foursomes is most common in match play competitions but can also be applied to the stroke play format. In match play, the team that completes each hole in the fewest shots wins the hole. In stroke play, the team that completes all 18 holes in the fewest total strokes is the winner.

Playing with handicaps

In foursomes, the team’s handicap allowance is half of the two players’ combined handicap.

For example, if player A has a handicap of 8 and pairs with player B who has a handicap of 20, their team handicap would be 14 (20+8=28) (28/2=14).

In match play foursomes, the difference between both of these calculated allowances determines how many shots are given.

For example: Team A has a combined handicap of 28 (20+8), giving them a team handicap of 14 (28/2). Team B has a combined handicap of 15 (10+5), giving them a team handicap of 7.5 (15/2).

Team B therefore gives Team A 7 shots in match play foursomes, as 14 subtracted by 7.5 is 6.5, which then rounds up to 7.

Golf Foursomes FAQ

What is foursomes in golf?


Foursomes is a format where two players form a team and play one ball alternately. One player tees off on the even-numbered holes, and the other on the odd-numbered holes. They then alternate shots until the ball is holed.

How does the foursomes golf format differ from greensomes?


In foursomes, each team uses only one ball per hole with players taking alternate shots. In greensomes, both players tee off, and then one ball is chosen to be played alternately for the rest of the hole.

Are there specific rules for foursomes?


Yes, in addition to the regular rules of golf, foursomes have specific rules, such as penalty shots applying to the team’s ball and not individual players. It’s essential to check local regulations or tournament rules when participating in a foursomes event.

How is the handicap calculated for foursomes golf?


The combined handicap of a team in foursomes is typically half the combined handicaps of the two players. However, this can vary based on local or tournament-specific rules.

Can you explain foursomes matchplay rules?


In foursomes matchplay, the game is played hole by hole. The team with the lowest score on a hole wins that hole. If teams tie for a hole, it’s halved. The match concludes when one team is up by more holes than there are left to play.

What is the difference between American foursomes and traditional foursomes?


American foursomes are essentially the same as greensomes. Both players on a team tee off, and then they select one of the drives to play alternately for the rest of the hole.

How does a “golf foursome” differ from the “foursomes format”?


The term “golf foursome” can sometimes simply refer to a group of four players playing together. In contrast, the “foursomes format” is a specific playing format as described above.

Are there any unique equipment requirements for foursomes?


No, standard golf equipment is used. The main difference is that in foursomes, teams use only one ball per hole.

What happens in foursomes if a shot is hit out of bounds or is lost?


The rules for penalties remain consistent with regular golf. The team would incur the usual stroke penalty, and the same player who hit the previous shot must play the next shot under penalty.

How do foursomes golf rules vary for casual play versus tournaments?


While the basic format remains the same, specific rules, especially concerning handicaps, scoring, or tiebreakers, might vary. It’s always essential to consult local rules or tournament guidelines.

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