Exploring the World of Golf Tournaments: Types and Formats

Types and Formats of Golf Tournaments

Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Daniel

Golf, a sport known for its elegance and precision, offers a wide variety of tournament formats, each with its own unique rules and challenges. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a casual enthusiast, understanding the different types of golf tournaments can add a new dimension to your appreciation of the game. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the various types of golf tournaments and the excitement they bring to the fairways.

8 Types and Formats of Golf Tournaments

Types and Formats of Golf Tournaments

Stroke Play

Stroke play tournaments are among the most common in the world of golf. In this format, each golfer plays a set number of holes, usually 18 or 72, with the goal of completing the course in as few strokes as possible. The player with the lowest total score at the end of the round is declared the winner. The key here is consistency, as golfers aim to avoid high scores on individual holes.

Match Play

Match play tournaments pit golfers against one another in head-to-head matches. Each hole is a separate contest, and the golfer who wins the most holes win the match. This format encourages aggressive play, as you can concede holes to conserve energy for later in the match. The Ryder Cup is a famous example of a match play tournament.


In a scramble tournament, teams of golfers play as a unit. Each member of the team tees off, and then they choose the best shot among them. From that point, they all play their subsequent shots from the same location. This format is popular for its social aspect and is often used in charity events or corporate outings.

Best Ball

Best ball tournaments are another team-based format. Here, each golfer plays their own ball, but only the lowest score on each hole from the team is counted. This encourages friendly competition within the team and is popular for its balance of individual and team play.


The Stableford format is designed to keep play moving quickly and is especially popular in recreational tournaments. Golfers earn points based on their score relative to par on each hole. For example, a birdie may earn you 2 points, a par 1 point, while a bogey gets you 0 points. The golfer with the most points at the end of the round is the winner.


Four-ball tournaments, often referred to as “better ball” or “two-man best ball,” involve two-person teams. Both golfers play their own balls throughout the round, and the lower score of the two on each hole counts as the team’s score. It’s a format that combines individual skill with team strategy.


Foursomes tournaments are similar to four-ball, but with a twist. In this format, two golfers share a single ball and alternate playing it on each hole. This promotes strategy and coordination, making it a popular choice for international events like the Presidents Cup.

Mixed Format

Mixed format tournaments are inclusive and enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels. They often combine various formats within a single event. For example, the front nine might be played as a scramble, while the back nine follows a best ball format.


Golf is a sport with a rich history and a diverse array of tournament formats to match. Whether you’re a professional golfer aiming for glory in a major championship or a casual player enjoying a weekend round with friends, these various tournament types offer exciting opportunities to test your skills and engage with the game on multiple levels. Embrace the diversity of golf tournaments, and you’ll discover a whole new dimension to the sport’s timeless appeal.

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