I Played A Great New Format In My Weekend Club Competition... And I Can't Believe How Much I Enjoyed It!

This fun team format is a great way to bring a bit of variety to your club's weekend comps...

What is a 'Yellow Ball' competition in golf and how do I play it?
The 'Yellow Ball' competition is a fun, inclusive format that you will really enjoy
(Image credit: Future)

As a golf club member, the rising excitement around the start of competition season is palpable. For those who don't mind getting out over the winter, the lead up to the first Saturday Stableford can be a great time to hone your skills and experience a variety of different team-based competitions.

Upon arriving at the pro shop last weekend, ready to pay our money for the chance to taste some pre-season glory, I was intrigued to hear about a new format. The 'Yellow Ball' comp was one I hadn't tried before... but I am so glad I did!

What is a 'Yellow Ball' competition?

Three golfers scoring in their group

(Image credit: Future)

It's worth stating that there are a few variations of this format, but the basic premise is the same. Using Stableford scoring, teams of three or four players have a decision to make.

On each hole, one player is designated the 'Yellow Ball', meaning that their points count double. Each player must have an even number of 'Yellow Ball' holes, and it follows a cyclical format (Player A on 1, Player B on 2, Player C on 3 etc. for a three-person team). Once the order is locked in, and marked on the card prior to the first tee shot, it can't be changed and the game can begin!

The best score of the players not playing the 'Yellow Ball' on each hole will also count, with the scores being added together to form your total points. It isn't essential to make the player use an actual yellow golf ball, but some clubs do and that could help to add a little extra drama to proceedings.

What is so good about the 'Yellow Ball' competition?

Three golfers having a discussion on the tee box

(Image credit: Future)

The great thing about this format is every player has the chance to be a hero. The camaraderie of team competitions is always a highlight of winter golf, but in this style of event you also have to manage a certain level of individual pressure each time you step onto the tee with that golden (or yellow, if you will) opportunity to propel your team into the lead.

In my three-person team, it became apparent that even mentioning the two-word, ten-letter utterance to the pedestaled player on the tee box was frowned upon. The implied undertone of expectation, while always in jest, inevitably meant that full concentration over the ball and respectable execution of the shot was non-negotiable.

For high-handicappers, like myself, this format also creates a great opportunity to experience the thrill of (finally) contributing to a strong points tally. Receiving two-shots on the par-5 12th, and in possession of the 'Yellow Ball', my best drive of the day was backed up with a sensible lay-up and a well-flighted wedge to leave a birdie putt.

A 12-foot slider found it's way to the bottom of the cup and suddenly the five points I earned (for a four) were doubled to 10. My playing partner's timely three-pointer helped us to post 13 points for the hole, and we buoyantly bowled off to the next tee.

As with anything in golf, there will be peaks and troughs. My next visit to the yellow well of scoring was not as fruitful, after finding a particularly 'thorny' lie from my second shot. After a frustrating zig-zag to the hole, a single point (doubled to two), along with a welcome couple from the team, demonstrated how crucial it was to capitalise when in the hot seat.

The balance of jeopardy and reward available on each hole, along with the ability to create a team-focused configuration with aspects of individual liability, creates a genius way to focus the mind in the off-season. Most importantly, the 'Yellow Ball' competition is inclusive and would make a fun addition to your club's competition calendar in the build up for the new season.

Barry Plummer
Staff Writer

Barry Plummer is our Staff Writer, joining in January 2024 after seven years as a PE Teacher. He now writes about instruction, working closely with Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches to provide hints and tips about all aspects of the game. As someone who came into golf at a later age, Barry is very passionate about supporting the growth of the game and creating opportunities for everyone to access it. A member at Sand Moor Golf Club in Leeds, he looks forward to getting out on the course at least once a week and making up for lost time in the pursuit of a respectable handicap.

Barry is currently playing:

Driver: Ping G425

Hybrid: TaylorMade Stealth 4 Hybrid

Irons: Mizuno JPX 921 4-PW

Wedges: TaylorMade RAC 60, Callaway Jaws MD5 54

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour