Canadian Foursomes: How to Play the Golf Format

Both golfers on a team hit drives, but it's alternate shot after that

A Canadian foursome of golfers
Lisa Dawn Gover/Moment/Getty Images

Canadian Foursomes is a golf tournament format for 2-person teams or a game that can be played within a group of four golfers playing two-versus-two, but it is more commonly known as Greensomes.

The basics of Canadian Foursomes go like this: both golfers on a side tee off, the team members then decide which drive is best — which one ball they want to continue with — and continue playing that one ball taking alternate shots until the ball is holed. The golfer whose drive was not used plays the second shot. 

This method is great for introducing new players to a game with more veteran golfers. This way, one teammate's expertise makes up for the beginner's errors. This format is also sometimes called Scotch Foursomes or Modified Pinehurst. 

Mechanics of Canadian Foursomes Gameplay

In the "regular" version of foursomes, the two golfers on a side play alternate shot throughout but Canadian Foursomes operate in a way that ensures both golfers get to hit tee shots on every hole. Each golfer tees off at each hole like they would in regular games, but partners get to select which drive they want to play off of for the remainder of the hole. 

Alternate shot gameplay means that two golfers take turns playing the same golf ball. Player A hits a stroke, then Player B, then Player A, and so on, on each hole. But again, in Canadian Foursomes, both golfers tee off, and only after that does the alternate shot begin.

Although both golfers on a side hit tee shots, the tee shot counts as only one stroke for the side's score (because one of those drives, the one not selected, is thrown out).

A 'Gruesome' Variation of Canadian Foursomes

There's another version of Canadian Foursomes called "Gruesomes" or "Yellowsomes" for more veteran partners to play out the alternate shot match. Gruesomes is more commonly a betting game but also occasionally used as a golf tournament format. 

Unlike Canadian Foursomes, Gruesomes makes the opponent choose from the opposite team's first drives. And your opponents are going to chose your side's worst drive, not your best. This version gets its very name from the way competitors usually play it: gruesomely.

One other rule variation to this game is that the person who hit the "gruesome" first drive also has to hit his or her side's second stroke. After that, the play proceeds as alternate shot until the ball makes it in the hole. Basically, this version gives a double whammy of bad shots to the team with the more "gruesome" tee shot.