How to Play the Scotch Foursomes Golf Format

Four golfers leaving the green
Scotch Foursomes is a format for 2-person teams. A group of four golfers can pair off and play it for fun - or profit. Hero Images/Getty Images

"Scotch Foursomes" is the name of a golf format that can be used for tournament play, or as a competition for a group of four golfers. This format is played by 2-person teams and is a variation on standard foursomes play. In Scotch Foursomes, both golfers on a team hit drives, the best drive is selected, then they play alternate shot into the hole.

Scotch Foursomes is known by several other names, most common among them being Greensomes.

It is also called, depending on the region where it is played, Modified Pinehurst and Canadian Foursomes.

Playing Scotch Foursomes

You can really think of Scotch Foursomes as a scramble off the tee, then alternate shot into the hole. It works like this:

  • Golfer A and Golfer B are a Scotch Foursomes team. On the first tee, both A and B hit drives.
  • They walk forward to their two golf balls. Which drive is in the best position? That's the one they select to continue with. (Selecting the best drive is the scramble part of Scotch Foursomes.)
  • Let's say Golfer B had the best drive on Hole 1. Golfer A picks up his golf ball. Now the two teammates are playing only one ball the rest of the way.
  • Now it's alternate shot - but which golfer plays the second stroke? The one whose drive was not used. In our example, that's Golfer A. So Golfer A plays the second stroke.
  • Golfer B plays the third stroke, Golfer A plays the fourth, and so on, until they get that little white ball into the hole on the green.

    So: Both golfers hit drives, they select the one best drive, they play alternate shot after that. And the golfer whose drive was not used plays the second stroke.

    Why 'Scotch'?

    Why is this format called Scotch Foursomes? When it comes to the names of golf formats, when you see "Scotch" think "alternate shot." If the name includes Scotch, it's an indication that the format is entirely or partially alternate shot.

     (Likewise, if a format's name includes "No Scotch" - such as 2-Man No Scotch - it's an indication that no alternate shot will be played.)

    Handicaps in Scotch Foursomes

    There are no "official" guidelines (by the USGA or R&A) for the use of handicaps in the Scotch Foursomes/Greensomes format. However, the two most commonly used handicap allowances are these:

    • 60-percent of the lower-handicapped golfer's handicap is added to 40-percent of the higher-handicapped golfer's handicap. Total that up and use it as your team handicap.
    • Or the partners' course handicaps are added together, and 40-percent of that total is the team's handicap.

    Scotch Foursomes as a tournament format is almost always played at stroke play. If a group of four golfers wants to pair off and play Scotch Foursomes as a betting competition, they can play it either at stroke play or match play.

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    Your Citation
    Kelley, Brent. "How to Play the Scotch Foursomes Golf Format." ThoughtCo, Dec. 4, 2016, Kelley, Brent. (2016, December 4). How to Play the Scotch Foursomes Golf Format. Retrieved from Kelley, Brent. "How to Play the Scotch Foursomes Golf Format." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 25, 2017).