How to Play the Modified Pinehurst Golf Format

Pinehurst Resort Club signage
You can say that the origins of Modified Pinehurst can be traced to Pinehurst Resort, because that's where the regular Pinehurst format began. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Modified Pinehurst is a golf competition format for 2-person teams in which both golfers on a team hit drives, the one best drive is selected, and the two then play alternate shot into the hole.

The golfer whose drive was not chosen hits the second shot.

We'll give an example below to illustrate how Modified Pinehurst works, but first ...

Modified Pinehurst Goes by Several Other Names

Modified Pinehurst, as we define it here, is also known as:

It's difficult to say which of the names modified Pinehurst, greensomes and Scotch Foursomes is more common; they are all used frequently. Canadian foursomes is probably the least-common of the four names.

Modified Pinehurst vs. Regular Pinehurst

As you probably surmised by the fact this format is called modified Pinehurst, it is a variation on the Pinehurst System format (which, for good measure, is also known as - perhaps better known as - Chapman System).

In regular Pinehurst (a k a Chapman), each golfer on a 2-person team tees off. They then switch drives and both play second shots. At that point, they select the one best ball and play alternate shot into the hole.

In modified Pinehurst, alternate shot begins after the drives, one stroke sooner than in regular Pinehurst.

(Pinehurst/Chapman has those names, by the way, because it was invented by amateur golf legend Dick Chapman over rounds played at Pinehurst Resort.)

Example of Modified Pinehurst Play

Let's give an example of modified Pinehurst in action. Remember, it's for 2-person teams. We'll call the two golfers on our team Bob and Alice.

On the teeing ground, Bob and Alice both hit drives. They walk up the hole to find their balls, and they compare the outcomes.

Which drive is in the best shape? Let's say Alice's drive wound up in a better spot.

So they select Alice's drive to continue with. Bob picks up his ball and, because his drive is not the one being used, he plays the second shot. Bob knocks the ball farther up the hole, just short of the green.

Alice plays the third shot. She chips up to with four feet of the hole. Bob plays the fourth shot, and make the putt. The team score is 4.

Got it? Both players tee off, the best drive is selected, they play alternate shot from there until the ball is holed. And the golfer whose drive was not used hits the second shot. That's modified Pinehurst.

You should always get a full explanation of the rules from the tournament organizers, because these types of formats and golf games can vary in specific details from place to place. You'll also need to inquire with tournament organizers about the use of handicaps. (Handicap allowances for regular Pinehurst/Chapman are covered in Section 9 of the USGA Handicap Manual.)

Modified Pinehurst can be played as match play (team vs. team) or as stroke play (team vs. field).

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