4 Playing Formats That Will Spice Up Your Round

golf playing formats

There are several different golf playing formats we’ve heard of or played to keep things interesting. Aggregate, Matchplay, Stableford, better ball, and scramble are the formats most often seen.  However, it’s nice to look at some lesser known formats out there. Here’s a look at 4 different golf playing formats that mix things up and bring some new excitement to the game.

Playing Formats

1. Worst Ball

When playing alone, maybe early in the morning, you can really test your skill by playing worst ball.  Provided it’s quiet on the course and you won’t hold up other players, play two balls on every hole and always count the higher score. The challenge here is to still play to your handicap despite taking the higher score of the two. Worst Ball is great for working on your ability to salvage bad shots and still make a low score.

2. Split Sixes

Let’s say you show up for your weekly game with your favorite foursome and one of the four can’t make it. Without all four players in the group, your usual 2-man better ball format won’t work.  When this happens, try a golf-playing format called Split Sixes. In this format, each hole has a total of 6 points up for grabs. The clear winner of the hole gets 4 points. A player with the clear second low score gets 2 points and the highest score gets no points. If two players tie for low score, each gets 3 points and if two tie for the second low score, each gets one point. Finally, if everybody ties, 2 points to each player. Points accumulate throughout the round and the player with the most points at the end wins.

3. Daytona

Do you like a game that makes you think and can swing wildly hole to hole? If so, Daytona is your game. In this game, a two person team each plays their own ball through the hole. Once completed, the two scores are combined to make a 2 digit number. For example, if both players make a 4, their score for that hole is 44. Here is where it gets interesting. If the two scores are different, relation to par dictates which number will be first. For instance, on a par 5, if the scores are 5 and 7, the team score is 57 because the lower score is par or better. However, if on a par 4 the scores are the same 5 and 7, the team score is a 75. Add up the scores at the end of the round. The team with the lowest score wins.

This game takes some time to get the hang of the scoring but the possibility of huge swings keeps things exciting and everyone in the game until the end. Imagine that four-footer you have for par when your partner is in his pocket with a 9. Make it for a team score of 49, miss it and team score is 95.  Talk about pressure.

4. Best and Worst Ball (or 1st and 3rd)

Finally, we’ve all played in 4-person better ball tournaments, where 2 players on the team are advanced and the other two relative beginners. The two beginners end up pretty much there for show, with little chance their score ever counts. In these instances, a format of best and worst ball or 1st and 3rd are great for keeping everyone involved. In Best and Worst, the best score is added to the worst score on the hole for the team hole.

This game definitely keeps everybody involved until they hole out. However, it slows the pace of play when somebody is really struggling on a hole. In this case, play 1st and 3rd instead.  The low score and 3rd score are totaled for the team score. This adjusted playing format allows someone struggling to go ahead and pick up so play can continue.


There are many golf playing formats you can play, even creating something on your own. Remember to keep everyone in play regardless of ability, maintain a reasonable pace of play, and keep scoring simple. Have fun!

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Rudi Fann

Rudi Fann has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2008. He began his career in 1998 as the Assistant Golf Professional at Wake Forest Golf Club in Wake Forest, NC. In 2002, Rudi accepted a similar position at Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. He spent a year there before moving to Nipomo, CA where he worked at Blacklake Golf Resort. Over the next 10 years, he worked his way from Assistant Golf Professional to Head Golf Professional and finally Director of Golf Operations. In his time at Blacklake, Rudi devoted much of his time to running tournaments and other activities in order to create a social atmosphere at the club. After Blacklake, Rudi spent one year as Head Golf Professional at Paso Robles Golf Club before deciding to return home to North Carolina. Since returning to North Carolina, Rudi has worked with the First Tee of the Triangle helping to instill life skills and core values through the game of golf to local youth.