Golf Game Variations

Stroke Play, Match Play and Stableford: There are many different game versions that bring variety to the normal golf game. As these golf formats get more popular we has been thinking about publishing their list of the most important official and unofficial golf formats.


Match Play „Single“ or „Foursome“

The primary game variation of golf is called match play. Match play can be played by beginners, as well as advanced golfers. On „Single“-match play, two golfers play against one other, on „Foursome“ two teams with two players compete against each other. The golfer or the team, which reaches the lower score, wins a hole, depending on the scoring variation, the points are being added up or subtracted. After finishing the round, the side with the most points wins. If both teams need the same amount of shots, the hole gets halved. If the Teams play tie, extra holes can be added, or if both sides agree with this result, they can do without these extra holes. In this game variant shots, holes or rounds can be given away and not be returned. If a golfer is sure about the winning of his opponent, he can give him a shot, with this shot he wins the hole. When playing „Foursome“, the golfers of one team play alternately with the same golf ball.

Stroke Play/ Medal Play

When playing „Stroke Play“, the total number of strokes on all 18 holes are added up. After every hole, the score is been written down. The sum of all strokes is called the gross score, to receive the net score, the handicap is subtracted from the gross score. If a rule violation takes place, two more strokes are added. The golfer with the lowest net score wins.



The biggest difference between classic Stroke Play and Stableford is, that the score is charged with regard to a fixed score at each hole. If a golfer´s score is more than one over the fixed score, he obtains 0 Points, if his score is one under the fixed score, he gets 1 Point. If both scores are equal, he receives 2 Points. Is his score is one Point under the fixed score, he receives 3 Points and so on. One benefit of this game variation is, that the golfer can not loose points. The competitor with the highest score wins. The score can be gross or net, whereby the actually needed strokes result in the gross score. To figure out the net score, the determined scores are being subtracted. The determined scores are relatively to the level of the golf course.

Stroke Play against Par

The gross score is the result of every hole, that is played better than the fixed score with +1 Point, every hole which score is inferior than the fixed score with -1 Point and every holes´ score that is equal to the fixed score with 0 Points. To receive the net score, the handicap of a golfer is splitted over all holes. The gross strokes, which the golfer played equal to or under the fixed score get noted down and the competitor with the highest score wins.



A game version, in which two teams compete against each other is called „Aggregat“. To determine the winner, the scores of a team are being added up.

Battle Golf

„Battle Golf“ is an unofficial variant of match play. In this version, the winner of each hole has the option to take a golf club from his opponent. During the game, a golfer has the chance to take his own golf club back. The rules of this game variation can be individual modified, but there´s one inflexible rule, which says, that it´s not possible to take the putter from the other golfer.

Bingo Bango Bongo

In the golf format „Bingo Bango Bongo“ the handicap remains unnoticed, a preset order is more important. The golfer, which golf ball first reaches the green, rests closest to the flag or reaches the hole receives 1 Point.


Another golf variant played by two golfers or two teams is called „Bridge“. In „Bridge“ a fixed amount of points or money set to each hole. If this golf format is played with „Foursome“, the members of one team make a bet on the number of strokes (net or gross) they think the other team needs to play the hole. The other team has three possibilities: They can take the bet, take the bet and double it or bid lower than the bet number of strokes. If one side takes the bet and doubles it, the other side has the option to double back.

Chapman Foursome/Chapman System

„Chapman Foursome“ is another golf competition format named after Dick Chapman. In this golf variant both golfers of a team tee off, after that they switch their balls. Afterwards they select the best of the second shots and play alternately until the ball is holed.


A unofficial version of stroke play is called „Eclectic“. Each golfer plays a few rounds and only the best score on each hole are ranked.

Flag Competition/Flags

„Flags“ is a golf variant in which each golfer achieves a fixed number of strokes and a flag with their name on it. The golfers play the golf course until their strokes run out, the flag is sticked in the ground at the position from which their final shot is played. The player, whose flag is closest to the hole, wins.


„Fourball“ is another golf competition format that can be played either as stroke play or match play. „Bestball“ is another name for this golf variant, to play „Bestball“ two teams each with two golfers play against each other. A special feature of this game is, that every golfer plays with his own golf ball, but only the best ball is ranked.


If golfers play „Foursome“ two teams with two players play with one golf ball. The team members are trying to play the hole, „Foursome“ can be played either as stroke play or as match play. Another name for „Foursome“ is „Alternate Shot“.


The competition format „Greensome“ is a golf variant for two 2-person teams. In this Foursome variation both players of a team tee off. The best ball is selected and then played alternately until this ball is holed.


„Nassau“ is the most famous betting variation, named after the „Nassau Country Club“. In this golf variant are three bets in one game, the first game is about the first 9 holes, the second about the last 9 holes and the third game is about the total 18 holes. The valuation can be different, for example a golfer can win three times, this means one time in every game. Another possibility is with four units, in this version a golfer has the chance to gain one unit in the first two games and two units in the whole round. At least there´s another option, in which a player has the opportunity to win one unit in the first game and two units in the second and third game.

One Ball

„One Ball“ is a golf format in which two golfers play „Alternate shot“.


The golf format „Scramble“ is one of the primary forms of tournaments and charity events. This game variant is played with 2-person teams or 4-person teams. After teeing off, the best of the tee shots is selected and all players play the following shot from this point. After the second shot, all golfers play their ball from the position of the best ball and so on.

Skin Game

The „Skin Game“ is a match play variant in which each hole has a fixed value. Usually the golfers have the chance to win money.

String/String It Out

A unofficial game format to play in a group of friends is called „String It Out“. Adapted to their handicap, each golfer gets a various lenght of string. Every player has the chance to move their ball from a difficult position, the covered distance is going to be cut from their piece of string. At the end of the 18-hole round, the remaining string is useless.



A side bet called „Arnies“ is named for Arnold Palmer. In this golf format, a golfer receives points, if he makes par on a hole without ever being in the fairway.


In the betting format „Barky“ a golfer receives points if he makes par after hitting a tree.


„Hogans“ named after Ben Hogan is a side bet golf format in which a golfer has the chance to receive points when hit the fairway or the green and then plays par.


In „Sandie“ golfers achieve points if they play par after hitting a bunker.


„Snake“ is another golf betting game in which all players set a bet amount. In this golf format its all about putting. The Golfer who three-putts first gets the „Snake“ until any other golfer three-putts and so on. The player who is the last with the snake pays the other golfers the agreed amount.