How to Play the Greensomes Golf Format

Greensomes is a 2-person team game heavy on alternate shot

Two golfers teeing off; greensomes is a game for 2-person teams
Greensomes is a golf format for teams of two golfers. Maedi./Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0

Greensomes is the name of a golf tournament format for 2-person teams, or a golf game played 2-vs.-2 within a group of four golfers. In Greensomes, both golfers on a team tee off, the one best drive is selected, and they play alternate shot from there.

We'll go into details and explain exactly what that means, but first note that Greensomes is sometimes called one of several other names:

If you see a golf tournament using one of those formats, it's most likely to be the Greensomes format described here.

Greensomes can be played as stroke play (gross or net - note on handicaps below); match play, or stroke play using Stableford scoring.

Tee Shots in Greensomes

Greensomes begins with each member of a team, or side, hitting drives. Repeat: Both golfers hit drives. They compare the outcomes of the two drives and decide which is best. And that is the spot from which the second shot is played.

(This is one of the advantages of Greensomes: Unlike in standard alternate shot, all golfers get to hit drives on every hole. Hitting drives is fun! This also removes the need to decide which golfer on the team will hit drives on the even-numbered holes, and which on the odd-numbered holes, as is necessary in standard alternate shot.)

Playing Into the Hole in Greensomes

From that point - after the drive is selected - your Greensomes team plays alternate shot into the hole.

If Player A hits the second shot, then Player B plays the third stroke, Player A the fourth, and so on until the ball is in the hole.

Which Golfer Hits the Second Shot?

After the best drive is chosen, which of the two team members plays the second stroke? The golfer whose drive was not used always plays the second shot.

If Player B hit the best drive, then Player A hits the second shot, and vice-versa.

Handicaps in Greensomes

As noted above, Greensomes can be played as stroke play (which will be the case in a tournament setting) or as match play. (A group of four golfers playing Greensomes as a betting game can take its pick.) But how do you use handicaps when playing this format?

There are no official rules for that, but here are two suggestions (the first one is most common in Greensomes):

  • Take 60-percent of the lower-handicapped golfer's handicap and add it to 40-percent of the higher-handicapped golfer's handicap. The sum is the side's handicap.
  • Or add the course handicaps of a side's two partners together and use 40-percent of that as the side's handicap.

And a Few More Notes About Greensomes

We gave you three alternate names for this format at the start, but wait! There are even more alternate names. You might run across this format being called Foursomes With Select Drive or Alternate Shot With Select Drive.

That's because this is really a variation on Foursomes. In Foursomes, the two golfers on a side play alternate shot throughout - meaning only one golfer tees off per hole. In Greensomes, both golfers tee off, then play alternate shot from there.

So Greensomes allows both golfers to hit drives on every hole.

As in Foursomes or any format using alternate shot, make sure you choose a partner with whom you are compatible in terms of personality. In alternate shot, your partner is going to leave you a terrible spot at least once or twice a round (more often the higher the handicaps), and you'll do the same to him or her. You have to be able to let those mistakes go and not start bickering or blaming.

There's also a variation on Greensomes called Gruesomes, in which worst of the two drives is used. (In fact, in Gruesomes your opponents decide which of your team's drives is used.)

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