Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. However, when golfers of varying abilities play together, it can sometimes be frustrating for the less experienced players. The good news is that there are many fun golf games specifically designed to level the playing field and allow players of different skills to compete. Here are some of the best golf games to try when you have a group with a wide range of handicaps.
A scramble is one of the most popular golf games for players of mixed abilities. In a scramble, all the players tee off on each hole. The best shot of the group is then selected, and all players take their next shot from that spot. This process is repeated until the ball is holed.
The scramble format eliminates a lot of pressure and frustration for novice golfers. Since everyone gets to hit from the best position on each shot, it helps make up for lack of accuracy or distance. Strategic course management and shot selection are still important, but playing from the best spots helps keep the score down.
Scrambles are a fun way to introduce new players to the game in a relaxed setting. It also levels the playing field so that everyone can contribute to the team. Make sure to pick teams fairly to balance out the high and low handicappers.
Best ball, also known as fourball, is another excellent golf game for mixed skill levels. In a best ball match, all golfers play their own ball throughout the round. On each hole, the one best score from the team serves as the team score.
For example, if Player A makes a 5, Player B makes a 6, and Player C makes a 7, the team score for that hole is a 5. So at the end of the round, the team scorecard will include the single best score from each player on every hole.
Best ball rewards good shots rather than penalizing bad ones. It gives beginners a chance to make a few solid shots each round that can help the team. Since every player hits on every hole, it also keeps slower golfers engaged and moving.
Make sure pairings are fair to give both teams a chance. Having at least one strong player to carry each duo is key.
Stableford scoring allocates points based on a fixed scoring system, rather than totaling strict stroke counts. In traditional Stableford format, points are awarded as follows:
- Double Bogey or Worse: 0 points
- Bogey: 1 point
- Par: 2 points
- Birdie: 3 points
- Eagle: 4 points
- Double Eagle or better: 5 points
The player or team with the most points at the end of the round wins. This scoring system rewards relative success on each hole rather than punishing errors. Managing a bogey is worth a point, eliminating big numbers.
Stableford scoring is great for boosting confidence for novice golfers. Even if they struggle to break 100, they can still contribute points. It also keeps the pace of play moving along briskly.
If you have a few players that are significantly better than the rest, using an odd/even hole format can help balance out teams. Before the round, split the group into two teams of equal size and ability. Designate one team as “odd” and the other as “even.”
On the odd-numbered holes, only the scores from the odd team count towards their score. On the even-numbered holes, only the even team scores count. At the end of the round, the overall team scores are compared to determine a winner.
This format ensures that both teams receive holes they can take advantage of. The stronger team won’t dominate because half the holes are scored separately. It also keeps things interesting by constantly shifting the focus back and forth.
Blind partners is a fun game that breaks up regular foursomes into random pairings. Before starting, all the players’ names go into a hat. The players are then randomly drawn out two at a time to form the blind partner pairings for that round.
Now the newly formed teams compete in a scramble or best ball format. Not knowing your partner ahead of time and adapting your games together presents a fun challenge. It also enables quality interaction and camaraderie between players who may not know each other well.
The blind draw should produce a wide range of pairings of different skills. But since it’s random, some luck is involved, keeping stronger pairs from dominating week after week.
Money ball is a unique game that allows players to essentially purchase better shots during the round. Before teeing off, players contribute an equal amount of money to create a pool. On each hole, golfers play the hole as normal, from the tee to green. Once on the green, each player has the option to purchase a “money ball” for a set amount (e.g. $2).
The money ball can be placed anywhere on the green to serve as that player’s putt. So a player can place the money ball next to the hole if they wish! The tradeoff is they must pay out of the pool to use the money ball advantage.
Money ball is fun twist that helps level the playing field on the greens. Weaker putters can drain more putts, but the drawback is they drain the pool more quickly. It presents strategic options and keeps scores close in a competitive and amusing format.
If players of disparate skills want to play a standard individual or team stroke play round, implementing handicap allowances can work. Using accurate USGA handicaps, percentage allowances are applied to equalize chances.
For example, if a 10 handicap and a 30 handicap play together:
- The 10 handicap plays from scratch, no shots given
- The 30 handicap receives 70% of 30 strokes, rounded to 21 shots
So the 30 handicap subtracts 21 strokes from their gross score. This allows them to compete and compensate for their higher scores. Handicap allowances should be used sparingly, as most players prefer a straight-up match. But it’s an option in special cases when handicaps are distant.
In an alternate shot match, two-person teams take turns hitting one ball. Player A tees off on the first hole. Player B hits the second shot, then Player A hits again, and so on until holing out.
On the next hole, Player B will tee off to start. They alternate who tees off on each hole. So teammates get to see each other’s game up close.
Alternate shot highlights the strengths and weaknesses of both players. It requires patience, discipline, and teamwork. An errant shot can unravel a hole quickly, so it’s far more challenging than best ball or scrambles. But it’s rewarding when teams develop a smooth rhythm and posting low scores.
Bingo Bango Bongo
Bingo bango bongo is a fast-paced game that rewards three different achievements on each hole. It keeps all players engaged regardless of skill level. The rewards:
- Bingo – First player in the group to reach the green wins a point
- Bango – Player closest to the pin once on the green wins a point
- Bongo – First player to hole out wins a point
This game incentivizes aggressive and smart play into the green, precise wedge shots, and steady putting. The player with the most combined points at the end of the round is the winner. The variety of ways to score points makes it viable for any player to compete.
A skins game rewards players for winning holes outright. Before starting, players determine the value of each “skin” (e.g. $1 per skin). If a player wins a hole without tying anyone else, they win the skin for that hole. If there is a tie, the skin carries over to the next hole.
At the end of the round, the player with the most skins wins the pot. If holes are still tied for skins, players can either carry them over or settle them by some playoff format.
The skins format leads to big swings from hole to hole, adding drama and tension. Any player can win holes and skins based on their good play rather than their total score. It adds excitement to matches between experts and beginners.
Golf has a reputation for being an insular game. But there are many enjoyable formats that enable players of all skill levels to play together and compete on a level playing field. From scrambles to money ball to bingo bango bongo, these games inject variety, challenge, and enjoyment into rounds with diverse groups.
The key is being flexible, getting creative, and trying new games to find what works best for your specific group. Don’t be afraid to tweak rules or scoring to maximize fun. Focus on camaraderie over competitiveness. With the right format, golfers of any ability can play in harmony!