Playing strokes:

At most professional events, strokeplay is the most popular type of competition. In stroke play, each player (or team) competes over the course of 18 holes, counting the total number of strokes. The team with the lowest total nett score (gross score minus handicap) wins.

Professional competitions, for example, require players to go out in groups of three or two.

Playing a match:

In match play, each hole is played as a separate competition between two players (or two teams). Regardless of how many shots he won the hole by, the party with the lower score wins that hole. If both players’ or teams’ scores are equal, the hole is “halved” (drawn). The team that wins more holes than the other wins the game. At the club level, matchplay is a particularly popular style of competition.


A foursome (as described in Rule 29 of the “Rules of Golf”) is a game in which two players compete against each other by hitting one ball alternately. Regardless of who made the last putt on the first hole, one player tees off on the odd-numbered holes and the other on the even-numbered holes. The remaining shots are taken in turn till the hole is completed. The order of play is unaffected by penalty shots. Match play or stroke play rules can be used to play foursomes.

Greensome, Canadian foursome, and Mixed Foursome are foursome variations in which two teams of male and female golfers alternate strokes. Each player in a Canadian foursome hits his or her own ball from the tee, and the players then discuss which ball is in the best position, and the other ball is taken out of play. Continue reading for more information on Greensome.

Ball number four:

The rules are the same as foursomes, except that each player has his own ball and the team’s best score counts. Four-ball can be played as either a match or a stroke game. (Rules 30 and 31 define this.) Three players compete against one another in a Three-Ball match, each playing two separate matches. Best-Ball is a slightly different variation in which one player competes against the better ball of two or three players.

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