Four by Four: The best golf games to play with foursomes.
Four buddies, or four girlfriends, on a golf course. It’s a pretty standard combination. Golf, of course, can be a solitary game. But it’s always nice to have a few like-minded friends along for the walk.
Over the years, players ambling along on the fairways, or passing the time in the 19th hole post-game, have come up with some imaginative ways to enliven the game. Sometimes, they have even figured out ways to make a few dollars change hands during the game.
So if you and your group of golfing friends feel like changing things up a bit on your next hit-out, here are a few game variations for foursomes to play.
The Ambrose format is very popular because it allows golfers of all abilities to mix and play together on an equal footing, irrespective of ability. It also helps to promote teamwork as only one score is recorded per hole.
Ambrose can be played in groups of 2, or 4 players. Each player hits off the tee, and the best shot is selected. All the other players pick up their balls and place it within one hand span alongside the best ball
Each player then hits the second shot from this location. The best shot is once again selected, and this continues until the ball is on the putting green.
On the green, the position of the best ball is marked and the other balls are played from this position.
Only one score is recorded for each hole, and this is the sum of the best shots used throughout the whole round.
The Ambrose scoring system makes it possible for the score to be under, or very close, to the Par for the course, because only the best shot from the team is chosen.
Essentially, this means that your group has four chances to hit a good shot. This takes the pressure off the less-skilled golfers and makes the round fun for everyone.
Players tee off in a predetermined order, with the player who teed off first rotating to last on the next hole. This rotation continues throughout the round.
The player who tees off first on the hole is the “wolf “and gets to choose who will be his or her partner for that hole, based on their tee shots. The wolf has to make good choices as the game progresses down the fairway. Otherwise, he or she will have to watch their partner play a series of dodgy shots.
If the wolf chooses to, he or she can call out “wolf” after the tee shot if none of the other players’ tee shots make them worthy to be the wolf's partner. The wolf then plays the hole alone against the remaining players.
Bingo Bango Bongo
With a name that sounds eerily similar to a student drinking game called Whizz Boing Bounce, this foursome game is about as straightforward as you can get.
Three points are available on each hole:
- The “bingo” point is awarded to the first golfer onto the putting green.
- The “bango” point goes to the golfer closest to the pin.
- And the “bongo” point goes to the first player to sink their ball.
Money invariably changes hands during Bingo, Bango, Bongo games, and there are strict rules and etiquette involved...just like a drinking game!
This is a high stakes, iconic golf gambling game, most often played amongst high handicap golfers.
In this game, foursomes compete against one another for the lowest cumulative score, by hitting on from the best shot until the ball is in the hole. The group scoring the lowest at the end of the round is the winner.
There are endless variations to Scramble. These include:
- One Man Scramble: where a single golfer hits two shots and plays the better of them until the ball is in the hole.
- Texas Scramble: where all members of the foursome tee-off 4 times each before the end of the round.
- Miami: where the golfer whose tee shot is selected must not contribute again until the team has reached the putting green.
Just like high rolling in the real Las Vegas, this foursome game gets the points adding up real quick.
The foursome is divided into 2 teams and points are awarded based on the differences of their total on each hole.
For example: say the members of one team score a 4 and a 5 on a hole, while their opponents score a 5 and a 6. The two sets of numbers are then placed together to form the numbers 45 and 56. The difference between the two gives a total point number of 11, which is awarded to the team who scored the two lowest points.
If any team takes 10 shots or more on a particular hole, the team score is reversed. So if the opponents from the previous example took a 5 and a 10 instead of a 5 and a 6, their scores would reverse to form 105 instead of a 56. The difference between 105 and 45 is now 60. That's how the points add up real quick!
“Let’s make this more interesting” is a phrase often heard on the golf course. And Nassau is golf’s most iconic and widely-known gambling game.
Nassau is played for one bet on the Front 9, another bet on the Back 9, and, just to make things really interesting, a possible third bet for the overall 18.
This is really just a form of gambling rather than a foursome game, but what the hell. You can mix your foursome up into any combination and go nuts with the bets!
With the foursome divided into two sets of players, both sets tee off then switch balls and each hit their partner’s second shot for them. The preferred ball is then determined and the players alternate up the fairway until the ball is sunk
This game is often referred to as “hit, switch and bitch” because after you've hit your own good ball, you get to carry on at length about how poorly your partner's balls are being placed.
This is a straightforward add and subtract scoring format that can be applied to a foursome or any other combination of players.
Points are awarded for every player’s score on each hole. The standard format can be adapted endlessly, however the USGA and the R&A have set down the following points system:
- Double Bogey = 0 points
- Bogey = 1 point
- Par = 2 points
- Birdie = 3 points
- Eagle = 4 points
- 3 under Par = 5 points
- 4 under Par = 6 points
A similar scoring system is used for (so-called) friendly games and, on occasion, in amateur foursomes tournaments:
- -3 for a Double Bogey or worse
- -1 for a Bogey
- 0 for a Par
- +2 for a Birdie
- +5 for a Eagle
- +10 for a Double Eagle
Golf has been described as “a perfectly good walk ruined by a game”...or words to that effect.
But by messing about with different formats, scoring systems, and the occasional wager, foursomes can endlessly adapt their perfectly good walks into entertaining, and possibly lucrative, games of golf.