Have you ever stood on the first tee and someone’s asked you what format you want to play? You thought you were just there for golf – but it turns out there are a multitude of varieties to the game.


It’s tricky enough getting the little ball into the little hole without having to worry about what on earth everyone is talking about.
Which is why here at National Club Golfer, we’re the publication for the everyday player and so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give you a step-by-step introduction to the wonderful world of the golfing lexicon.

Word of the week: Greensomes

What I think it means: 

OK, let’s start at the beginning. Foursomes is a format of golf whereby two pairs play against each other, but only two balls are hit.


Each pair plays alternate shots with same ball.


This is a high pressure situation where the bounds of your friendship will be tested – no one likes slicing a drive down the middle, only for your buddy to shank the next shot into the tees.


No hard feelings, of course.

Foursomes is a weird sort of team game whereby rather than “winning and losing as a team”, you can immediately identify the weaker party and choose whether to persevere for the sake of your friendship or agree to call it a loss and go your separate ways.

If only romantic relationships could be reviewed on a scorecard at the end of each day.

That’s foursomes – but what about greensomes?

You’re stood on the first tee and someone in the group asks whether you fancy a greensome – Harry, hard of hearing as he is, spits out his tea, before asking you to repeat what you said.

“GREENsome Harry, GREEN.”


‘If only romantic relationships could be reviewed on a scorecard at the end of the day’ I’m procrastinating because I don’t know what a greensome is – so it’s clearly a very popular format! But I’m going to take a stab at it being something along the lines of a foursome – but perhaps when you get to the green, just one player on the team finishes up, whether it takes one shot or three.



Dictionary definition:


’An alternate shot tournament format with two two-man teams in each foursome. Each player hits a tee shot, then the best tee shot of each pairing is chosen and the other ball is picked up. The player who’s ball was selected hits the second shot and the players continue to alternate.’


‘Well, we’re not using that one’


This variation of golf can be played in match play as well as in stroke play.


What this actually means:


Your usual foursomes will see one player hit their tee and then the next hole the other team member hits theirs – thus maintaining just one shot off the tee.


Instead, the greensomes format will improves scores as each team gets two opportunities to hit a good tee shot.


A stronger player will find their tee shot being used more often than the weaker player accompanying them, with the pair benefitting from not having to recover from the weaker player’s wayward strike after every alternate tee shot.






I couldn’t find the origins of ’greensomes’, but I guess the word green in this sense does not refer to the putting surface but rather the playing area as a whole – as in the term ’Through the green’.


Other names for the greensome format are Scotch Foursomes, Canadian Foursomes or Modified Pinehurst.


There is also interestingly another variation, called Bloodsomes. In this ominously-titled format, it is not the players who hit which ball to choose, but rather their opposition. It’s a chance to be cruel, if you so choose.


But be prepared to suffer the consequences


Use it in a sentence:


“Will someone please calm Harry down, I asked if you guys fancied a greensome, not a threesome!”

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