Tournament Formats

Group Play at our Los Angeles Golf Club

When considering places to host Southern California golf tournaments for your group take a look at some of your play options. For questions please contact our staff at (626) 854-2351.

The following information describes the different type of golf tournament formats that the IHMGA play:

Individual Medal Play: Same as stroke play. "Stroke play" refers to a round of golf in which the score is kept by adding the cumulative total of strokes taken throughout the round. Stroke play is different from match play, but means the same thing as medal play.

Match Play: Although there are many different ways to play match play, all are built around its core principle: players (or teams) compete to win individual holes, with the side winning the most holes claiming the match.

There are dozens of different formats that can be played as match play, however, the best-known match play formats are those used in the Ryder Cup. Here is an introduction to those match play formats:

Singles Match Play: Player A is pit against Player B, hole after hole. If Player A scores a 4 on the first hole while Player B records a 5, Player A wins the hole.

Ties are called "halves" and are not played off (each side scores a half-point for their team). In Ryder Cup-style competitions, this is common. However, in singles match play tournaments - something such as the U.S. Amateur Championship, as an example - a match that is all square (or tied) after 18 holes continues until there is a winner.

2-Man/4-Man Scramble: A scramble is usually played with 4-person teams, but 2-person scrambles are popular, too.

In a scramble, each player tees off on each hole. The best of the tee shots is selected and all players play their second shots from that spot. The best of the second shots is determined, then all play their third shots from that spot, and so on until the ball is holed.

2-Man/4-Man Better Ball: Also, known as “Best Ball”, better ball can be played using 2-, 3- or 4-person teams. Each player on the team plays his or her own golf ball throughout the round, and on each hole the low score - or "best ball" - of the group serves as the team score. Player A gets a 5, B gets a 4, C gets a 6, D gets a 6, then the team score for that hole is 4, because the low score of the group was B's 4.

A 2-person best ball match play competition is also known as Four Ball.

"Best ball" can also refer to a competition in which a single player plays match play against a 2- or 3-person team playing best ball.

2 Better Ball of Foursome: Same as a Better Ball format, however, you take the best two scores of the foursome for each hole.

4-Man Select Drive/2 Better Ball: Same as 2 Better Ball of Foursome, however, you take the best drive out of the 4-Man team. From that point on you play your own ball and retain the two best scores.

2-Man Team, Select Drive Better Ball: 2-Man Better Ball format where you take the best drive out of each of the 2-Man teams. From that point on you play your own ball and retain the better of the two scores.

Pinehurst (Chapman): This 2-person team competition format is named after Dick Chapman, a great amateur golfer who played The Masters 17 consecutive years. He "invented" the game at Pinehurst Resort, hence it is alternately called Chapman or Pinehurst. And, for good measure, it is less frequently referred to as American Foursomes.

In the Chapman System, both players on a side tee off, then they switch balls. Player A plays Player B's drive, and vice-versa. Each player hits his or her second shot. They then select the best of the second shots, and from that point until the ball is holed they play only one ball in an alternate shot format.

Switch balls after the drive, select the one best ball after the second shot, play alternate shot until the ball is holed.

The player whose second ball was not chosen gets to play the third shot (so teams might sometimes choose the best ball after two shots based on who will get to hit the third).

Modified Pinehurst: Both players on a side tee off, then they switch balls. Player A plays Player B's drive, and vice-versa. Each player hits his or her second shot. They then select the best of the second shots, and from that point until the ball is holed they play only one ball in an alternate shot format.

Switch balls after the drive, select the one best ball after the second shot, play alternate shot until the ball is holed.

The player whose second ball was not chosen gets to play the third shot (so teams might sometimes choose the best ball after two shots based on who will get to hit the third). Chapman (or Pinehurst) can be played as stroke play or match play.

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