What Is Foursomes In Golf? [A Complete Guide]

Golf is full of different formats. Unique ways that golfers can compete against other players around the course to test their skills.

Perhaps one of the most famous team formats, partly down to its featuring in the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and Solheim Cup, is foursomes.

Watching the top golfers going head-to-head to try and claim those coveted prizes, but in a way that’s totally different from other usual events.

So what actually is foursomes in golf?

Let’s have a look and find out so more about the foursomes golf format.

What Is Foursomes In Golf?

What Is Foursomes In Golf?

What Is Foursomes?

Foursomes is a format in golf which sees two golfers playing together in a team, playing just one golf ball and alternating who hits the ball until it’s into the hole.

This format is sometimes known as Alternate Shot and is very similar to the other popular format, Greensomes.

Mixed foursomes is also a popular format for competitions where male and female golfers play together.

To play foursomes, just one golf ball will be in use and the team members will need to choose which person hits the tee shots on which holes.

One player will hit the first shot on the odd-numbered holes and the other player will be teeing off on the even-numbered holes.

After the first shot, the other player who didn’t tee off will then play the second shot and the team will continue taking alternate shots to complete the hole.

Foursomes format is great for speed, as it’s essentially halving the number of players playing a round of golf.

It’s also a fun format to play, but it can also be more stressful compared to greensomes as only one player is allowed to tee off.

With just one person playing from the tee, there’s a lot of pressure on that player’s first shot.

How To Score In Foursomes?

Foursomes can be played in either strokeplay or matchplay format, however, it’s most commonly played as matchplay.

During the Ryder Cup golf match, the teams play foursomes match play twice, once on the first day and again on the second day.

To score in a foursomes match play format, it’s the same as if it were a singles match play event.

The teams compete head-to-head, with their total score for each hole added up and played against the other team’s score. The lower score will win the hole and be 1 Up for that hole.

How To Work Out Your Foursomes Handicap?

A foursomes handicap allowance is worked out by combining both the players playing handicap and then halving that number.

This is the case for both a strokeplay and matchplay format.

For example, if one player is playing off a handicap of 10 and the other player in the team is off 20, the combined handicap would equal 30/2 = 15. The foursome team would get a combined course handicap of 15 shots for the round.

In a matchplay format, it would work the same. If team A had a foursomes handicap of 15 and team B had a foursomes handicap allowance of 10, team B would have to give team A 5 shots, on the holes with stroke index 1 to 5.

How To Play A Game Of Foursomes?

Work out your team’s handicap

To get started, it’s important to work out what the team’s handicap allowance is for the round.

The allowance for a foursomes competition, whether that’s strokeplay or matchplay, is to combine both players’ course handicaps and then halve that number to get the final foursomes handicap.

Choose which player to hit which tee shots

As only one player is teeing off, it’s up to the team to choose which holes they wish to tee off on.

One player will choose the odd-numbered holes to hit the first shot on and the other will get to play the tee shot on the even-numbered holes.

Alternate shots

As there’s only a single ball in play, there’s no decision to make on choosing the best ball.

The golfer who didn’t hit the tee shot will then play the second shot and then the team will continue to alternate shots until the ball is in the hole.

Foursomes Rules

There’s plenty of rules in golf, which can often seem a little difficult to keep up with. Fortunately, foursomes is a pretty simple game to keep up with.

Here’s a few of the key official rules to know when playing a game of foursomes:

  • Each shot played must be alternated between team players.
  • The two golfers compete as one team, using one ball on each hole.
  • Team members and caddies can help the other player out before each shot is played, such as lining up the ball or marking it on the green.
  • The tee shot requires a provisional ball, the player who didn’t hit the first shot must play the provisional ball.
  • A stroke made out of order will incur a penalty of either loss of hole in matchplay or two penalty strokes.
  • Team members may share the same set of clubs with each other, as long as the total number of clubs is no more than 14.

Final Thoughts

Foursomes format in golf is a really interesting type to play. It’s certainly not the easiest of the golf formats, but it can provide a very entertaining round of golf for the players.

Of course, it’s most famous for its appearance every couple of years in the Ryder Cup. Watching the top professionals hitting alternate shots is cool to watch and shows just how good they really are.

The great thing about playing foursomes is the fact that only one player hits the tee shot. This level of pressure can really throw a golfer into panic, so it’s important to look at the holes before the round and determine which holes are the toughest driving holes.

With that knowledge, the team can make a decision on who gets the odds and who gets the evens to tee off from.

Foursomes FAQs

Is foursomes the same as alternate shot?

Foursomes is also known as alternate shot and is a type of format in golf where a team of two golfers alternate between hitting shots until they get to the hole.

What’s the difference between greensomes and foursomes?

The difference between greensomes and foursomes is that in greensomes, both players in the team tee off then they choose the best shot to then play alternate shot from there, whereas in foursomes, only one ball is hit from the tee.

How does foursome golf work?

Foursomes in golf is a playing format which sees two golfers compete in a team, using just one ball and alternating shots until the ball is in the hole.

What is difference between four ball and foursomes?

Foursomes is different to fourball because there’s only one ball in play during a foursomes golf game.

Compared to a fourball match where each team member uses their own ball and makes their own score.

Can you change balls in foursomes?

Once a ball is in play on a hole, the team is unable to change balls during that hole.

After the hole has been completed, the ball can then be changed to another option if the team decides they want to use a different ball.

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

Scroll to Top