Each month we will try to bring to you straightforward examples of
popular - and not so popular - games on the course; games that will make your
rounds more challenging and fun to play. In this next installment of games of the month,
we introduce three Alternate shot games: 'Scotch Doubles', 'Pinehurst' and 'Chapman'.
Alternate shot games are much more popular in Europe than in North America - in the latter, the most likely place you will encounter them is at
a parent-child or husband-wife tournament.
The basics of an alternate shot format is two golfers playing the same ball. One player drives the ball, and the other hits the second shot.
The players continue to alternate until the ball is in the hole. There are three main variations of the alternate shot game:
: Golfers decide in advance who will drive the even holes and who will drive the odd holes (Thus, each player tees off on nine holes).
Players alternate shots until the ball is in the hole.
: Both golfers tee off on every hole. Then, each team decides which ball to use. Players then alternate shots until the hole is finished.
: Similar to Pinehurst, with both golfers teeing off on every hole. Players then alternate and hit their partners' shots. Then, each team
decides which ball to use, and players then alternate shots until the hole is finished.
How would a sample hole differ among three games? Let's use the example of Jack and Brad, playing on the same team, to illustrate.
- Playing Scotch Doubles, Brad would tee off on all the odd holes, and Jack would tee off on all the even holes. Thus, on the second hole -
a short par 4, Jack would tee off. Brad might hit the second shot onto the green, and Jack would
putt the ball in for a birdie.
- In Pinehurst, both players would tee off on the second hole. The players might choose to use Brad's drive.
After which, Jack might hit the second shot onto the green, and Brad would putt the ball in for the bird.
- In Chapman, both players would once again tee off on the second hole. This time, though, Jack would hit Brad's drive (just off the green),
while Brad would hit Jack's drive (a few feet from the stick). With one ball on the green, and one ball just off,
the players would decide to use the closer ball (Jack's original drive). Jack would then putt the ball in for a birdie.
Teams can play alternate shot games as stroke play or match (hole-by-hole) play.
Using Handicaps for Alternate Shot Games
Unlike other games, in alternate shot games players do not use their total handicap. When calculating the team handicap,
the lower course handicap golfer
receives 60% of his or her course handicap. The higher course handicap team member receives 40% of his or her course handicap.
To calculate the team handicap, add the two together and round to the nearest integer.
Alternate shot games require an amazing amount of strategy, particularly for Scotch Foursome games. Who drives the even number holes, who drives the
odd number holes? Who will be better teeing off on the treacherous island par three? Who on par fives? The games bring team play to a whole new level.
The one drawback is that because you didn't play your own ball, your scores cannot count towards your handicap. Perhaps this is why the best ball format
is much more popular in North America.