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There are many different formats of golf to make the game more interesting and varied. Greensomes golf is one of them.

Greensomes is a variation of Foursomes (where alternate shots are played from the tee), where both players tee off, and then one of the two tee shots is chosen. From there, the player whose ball was NOT selected then plays the next shot, and each shot thereafter is played as alternate shots.

So, put simply, it is played as Foursomes after the tee shots. You can play under any scoring format, such as stroke play, match play or Stableford.

The hardest part, however, is working out the handicaps. After that, Greensomes is a very straightforward, fun, and tactical game.


Greensomes: How to work out handicaps


It’s recommended that the handicaps should be 0.6 of the lower player’s handicap and 0.4 of the higher player’s. If both handicaps are the same, simply halve the combined total.

For example:

  • Team 1: (0.6×6) and (0.4 x10) = 3.6 + 4 = 7.6
  • Team 2: (0.6×12) and (0.4×16) = 7.2 + 6.4 = 13.6

The difference is exactly six shots, so six shots are given. If the difference were 6.4, though, you would round it down to the lower number.

If you’re playing a Stableford or Medal, use the same calculation to work out your Handicap Index as a pairing. Some competitions might insist on each player hitting a certain amount of drives, so bear this in mind, as you don’t want to be left with one player having to hit a good one up the last.


Other names and versions of Greensomes


Different clubs and countries have different ways of describing versions of the game. For example, you may see Greensomes referred to as things like Scotch Foursomes, Canadian Foursomes, or even Foursomes with Select Drive.

According to the R&A, there are several variations for how to play Greensomes. Pinehurst Foursomes is where both players tee off, switch balls for the second shots, and then play alternate shots with the preferred ball. 

A Chinese or St Andrews Greensomes is another variation where, before the start of the round, you decide on who plays the second shot on the odd holes and who plays the second shot on the evens. So, both players drive, but you know who’ll be playing next. From there, you then revert to playing alternate shots.


Greensomes tactics


If you get a choice of partner, pick one who complements your game. Some high handicappers can be great off the tee, and they would be an ideal partner—getting the ball in play and giving the team some shots—or you might have a low handicapper who can leave much shorter approach shots in.

You have to gel and get on as you’re playing one another’s ball. You never want to be saying sorry after a shot or feel under any undue pressure. This will inevitably happen as it’s golf, but find a partner with a similar personality to keep you both ticking along. 

As for the ball itself, it might be a good idea to play the same ball as long as neither of you has too strong a preference.

You’ll both be hitting drives, so if one of you is wild off the tee, make sure that the other will be able to put the ball in play. Greensomes is genuinely fun, so there will be the option of both of you trying to take on a short par-4 off the tee, but you still need to play the hole.

It’s also best to decide your order before playing—play to whatever suits you as a pairing. It might be that the steadier player tees off first and frees up the longer, more erratic driver of the ball. Or vice versa. There’s a strong school of thought to get both balls in play and then pick the best line in should you both find the short stuff.

It’s slightly misunderstood that Greensomes suits low scoring, but after the tee shots, you’re playing Foursomes, which is considered one of the trickiest formats to score well at. One of you might be a strong iron player, so lean on this as a pairing. If you’re 20 yards apart and the better player has a similar shot in, then, depending on how you’re playing, you might want them to play the approach.

Similarly, think of who the best chippers are on the team and think who might give you the best chance to get up and down should you miss the green.

If it’s a par-3, for example, and you’ve both hit the green, then, again, think about who will give you the best chance of making a par (or birdie). If one of you is a brilliant long putter (or a terrible short putter), try and play to the team’s strengths.

Golf is not a game of perfect, and Greensomes certainly isn’t either. You’ll find yourselves in some odd spots with some strange decisions to make. At times, you’ll get into a lovely rhythm where everyone is playing to their strengths, the game will feel easy, and the points and holes will be flying in—then, at other times, it will feel like you might not even score another point.

If you haven’t played Greensomes before, it’s well worth trying, as it’s a great way to stimulate your golfing brain and engender some team spirit.