Great Formats to Play on a Golf Break
The very nature of a golf break means that at least some of your party are unlikely to be terribly proficient at golf (that’s another way of saying they are hackers). You want everybody to walk away from your time together having had a great time, and you need to ensure that they will want to come back next time, so think seriously about the format you come up with.
Tour professionals play 72-hole stroke play events precisely because of the incredibly high standard that they have managed to achieve - they are not going to be running up triple- and quadruple-bogeys, and worse.
Unless everbody in your group has an official handicap and is used to playing in competitions, you should avoid medal play at all costs. Just imagine how people will feel if they run up an eight or a nine early in their round – they will know that any chance of winning is gone, and that is going to spoil their enjoyment.
Probably the best option because it gives players of all standards the best chance to compete together on level terms – and if you have a couple of disasters it really doesn’t matter because there are always another 16 holes to get your own back on the course.
Depending on how many of you there are, consider splitting your group into two teams – you can draw names from a hat, you can team old against young or you can do it geographically. It also makes sense to team high and low-handicap players together.
If you opt to follow this format, the obvious thing is to compete against each other in matchplay, and there are various ways of doing this. Here are three of our favourites:
Nothing could be simpler. Everybody in the group takes their handicap allowance from the best player in the group and the best score wins the hole. It’s the format most people play with their friends and it gives golfers bragging rights.
This is a fun format, where one player hits the drives on the odd holes, his or her partner hits them on the even holes, and then you play alternative shots. There are a couple of things to consider, however – if you are going to do it properly (and why wouldn’t you?), ensure that when you have putted that you don’t walk up to the ball and tap it in because it will result in the loss of that hole. And check that your partner is not going to lose his cool if you lose his brand new Titleist Pro V1.
Everybody drives, you pick the best tee shot and play the next shot from that spot. You then both hit from that spot, pick the best one and so on. You should also determine that a specific number of drives from each player is used.
And on the last day, why not consider organising a singles draw? So if you play fourballs one day, foursomes the next and finish it all off with a series of singles matches then you have just staged your own Ryder Cup-style contest. And everybody will love it. Guaranteed.
Pick a par five with a wide fairway and give everybody the chance to open up their shoulders and go for it.
Nearest the Pin
The pro will advise you as to the best par three to choose for this. If the standard of your group really isn’t very good, you might consider changing this to ‘Nearest the green’! Just joking.
OK, so not everybody hits the ball 280 yards, so pick a par four and designate it as the Shortest Drive hole. Just make sure that the prize on offer is a silly one, otherwise you might find people deliberately hitting dreadful shots.
Give everybody a mulligan. No matter how good you are, there will always be a shot that you want to take again – a mulligan allows them to do this. Everybody gets one mulligan per round and they must announce when they are taking it. If they fluff their mulligan then that is just hard luck.
Why not get somebody in your group to organise a quiz in the evening? You can either split yourself into two teams (or more) or do it as individuals. And maybe take £5 per head so that you have a prize at the end of it all.