Golf Games: Foursomes or Alternate Shot

December 26, 2012

While the proper term is foursomes, most US golfers refer to this format as alternate shot. As defined in Rule 29 of the Official Rules of Golf, Foursomes are played between two teams of two golfers, each of which plays just one ball. Players on each team alternate teeing off, and then alternate each shot thereafter.

Example: Player A tees off while his partner, B, watches. Player B then hits the ball from where it lands after A’s shot. Then it’s A’s turn until the ball is in the hole. On the next hole, Player B tees off, even if he took the final putt.

Foursomes can be scored as either match or stroke play.

A couple of special rules apply:

In Foursomes match play, if a ball is played out of order—that is, if A takes a stroke when it’s B’s turn—the hole is lost.

In Foursomes stroke play, a ball played out of order results in a two stoke penalty. The offending team must correct the error before playing from the next tee. That is, if A accidentally took a stroke on B’s turn, A must hit again, with a two stroke penalty to get back into the proper order. 

If the error is not corrected before the next tee shot, the offending team is disqualified.

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  • Why would anyone pay full price and play half a round from places they themselves did not put themselves in?

    Posted by Bert on 06/13

  • Because its fun. Try it.

    Posted by The Original Golf Blogger on 06/13

  • Bert’s question reminded me of why we play Foursomes and/or Scottish Foursomes occasionally.  I have a chance to play a lot of golf.  So the occasional round played in a format other than medal play is not that great a sacrifice for me.  If one only has an opportunity to play once or twice a month, I can the objection to a format where one does not play their own ball.

    A benefit of these alternate formats becomes apparent when one plays with the grandkids or non-regularly golfing spouse.  These formats speed up play without completely marginalizing the inexperienced player.  Get two regular golfers paired with two inexperienced golfers and the competition can be quite spirited.

    Finally, there is a time and place for these formats.  If I am playing Shepherd’s Hollow for the first time, no way am I using anything other than medal play.  Sunday afternoon at a Metro Park I have played 100 times before, bring it on.

    Posted by bkuehn1952 on 06/15

  • I prefer to play scrambles, but only because I can’t score low by myself. When I have teammates to make up for my bad shots, I can still win a tournament.

    Posted by David Hansen on 12/26

  • our club offers 70 and older members to play from the red tees while the remainder of the club play from the whites. The “penalty” for this is 2 strokes off the handicap. We also play 2 man best ball tournaments. The maximum handicap differential is set at 8 strokes. If a team has a differential over 8 ( palyer A is a 10 and player B is a 26 (24 from red ) we make thenm play as 10 and 18. It has been brought to my attention that the player who is playing from the red tees still has an advantage because an 18 from the whites is still an 18 and some feel the red tee player should lose his 2 strokes. Is there anything in the rule book to cover this? Thanbks

    Posted by Paul Evans on 01/28

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