When you want to play golf, you can find many different types of competitions to choose from - no matter your skill, the handicap system will allow you to play against players of different abilities. You can find both team competitions and individual competitions to choose from. In case you need to know what a foursome, greensome, stroke play or stableford is, we're here to help.
When you play stableford, the golf round is scored in such a way that the handicap of every player is accounted for, allowing an even playing field. If your handicap is higher, you'll have the advantage, since if you play one hole really badly, you won't lose that many points, and you can easily catch up if you play the next hole very well. The player's handicap and the hole's difficulty is used to adjust each hole's par, so if your handicap is higher and the hole is hard, you are given more strokes to try and get the ball sunk.
The stroke index is applied to every hole on the course to determine its difficulty, and this index is on a scale from 1 to 18; 1 is the hardest type of hold and 18 is the easiest. At the beginning of the game, each player works out how their handicap affects the par for each hole, so they know how many strokes they get. Depending on their handicap, the play gets a set number of extra strokes, which are then allocated to the harder holes on the course. For example, if your handicap is 24, you get one added stroke for each hole, using up 18 strokes, and the remaining 6 are given to the holes that have the highest difficulty, enabling you to have more strokes to complete them.
Scoring - Depending on the adjusted par, your score can be either positive or negative - if you have 3 over par, you get no points; if you're one over par, you get 1 point (bogey); if you get a par, that's 2 points; 1 under par gets you 3 points (birdie), and 2 under par gets you 4 points.
Example: If a hole has a par 5, the adjusted par would be 7 if the player is allowed an extra 2 stokes for that hole. He manages to get the ball in on stroke 6; he performed 1 under par, giving him 3 points for his efforts. If he sunk the ball on the 8th stroke he would have performed one over par giving him 1 point.
When the golf game ends, the winner is the person with the most points. If a player's handicap is correct he would finish with a score of 36, since that's par for the course.
You count every stroke in the entire golf game with medal or stroke play, and whoever wins depends on whose score is lowest. When you're working with a handicap, you subtract the handicap from the overall score, and that score is what determines the winner of the game.
Instead of playing against the course, players pit themselves against other players in match play. You have to win a hole by being the person with the fewest strokes to complete it; whoever wins the most holes wins the game in the end. Ties are handled by having no team win the whole, the hole is said to be 'halved'. When working with a handicap, you adjust the number of strokes you need to win the hole according to the handicap of whatever player is playing.
Singles: The competition is between two separate players.
Doubles: The competition is between two pairs; each person plays the hole like they typically would, and the scores are combined and compared.
Foursomes: There are two player teams, but there's only one ball between the teammates, as they alternate shots. Shots at the tee are alternated between team players, so that everyone gets a chance to start the hole.
Greensomes is just like foursomes but with a bit of variation; there are still teams of two, but this time, both players tee off, and depending on which shot went further, that shot is used.
Scoring: You win holes here, just like in stroke play, and as the game goes on, you see how many holes teams are ahead of or behind on.
Once one team gets too far ahead to allow the other team to win, then the game ends summarily. To give an example - if Team A and Team B are at Hole 15, and Team A is +4, there are only three holes left, but four points are necessary for B to catch up; A wins. The winning score would be 4 and 3 for Team A. In the event of a tie at hole 18, you have to play a tie breaker round. The two teams just keep playing holes until one team wins a hole; that team ends up winning the game.
If you have two to four players on a team, you can play Best Ball. The game is played as if everyone was playing for themselves; but handicap-adjusted score for every hole is given as a team score. Stroke play is the most popular variant of Best ball, and as a result, you win when you have the lowest score.
Charity and club matches often play scramble: you can play teams of two, but teams of four are often more common. It's not unlike greensomes in that everyone tees off, but the shot that went furthest is picked to be the team ball; everyone just plays a ball until someone gets it in the hole; Texas Scramble requires that each player makes a minimum number of tee shots.