What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?

A shotgun start in golf is when all the competitors in a tournament start at the same time around the course

Marshal uses a klaxon horn
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What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?

A shotgun start in golf involves all the players in a tournament teeing off at the same time. To do this they have to start at different holes across the course. So at to let these groups know the tournament has started, a shotgun is fired – in effect it is a starting pistol.

Or that is the theory, and why it has got its name. In reality it more likely that a hooter is sounded to let players know to start; or, even more likely, players simply look at their watch or other groups around the course to see when it is time to tee off.

The advantage of this format is that all the competitors will finish at roughly the same time. This can be handy if the competition has a prize giving or a meal afterwards as all players will be returning to the clubhouse at around the same time. It also used as a way to get a large field in a tournament round the course quickly. This can be useful on short winter days or in an evening competition when the amount of light left is limited.

All players play the full 18 holes, but they rotate around the course from where they started. Thus if they tee off on 13, they will finish their round on the 12th green. For purposes of countback, where a player has started from on the course is ignored. The back nine will be the course’s holes 10 to 18 regardless of when these holes were actually played.

What is a reverse shotgun start in golf?

In a shotgun start all the competitors in a tournament start at the same time, using whatever hole tees are needed to achieve this. Normally a shotgun start will utilise the holes nearest the clubhouse if not all 18 tees are to be used. But under a reverse shotgun start the idea is for the competitors to clear the 1st tee as soon as possible, to allow other players not in the competition to get on the course. Thus the tee slots to be filled will start on the 1st or 18th tee and work backwards.

What is a double shotgun start in golf?

This is for when the field in a competition is too large to be accommodated at the same time even under a shotgun start. A shotgun start involves competitors all starting together, but on different holes. Normally 72 players can thus play together (4 players per tee), or sometimes a few more can be squeezed in if the course has long par 5s which can accommodate two groups starting on them. With a double shotgun start, the competition is split into two, with a morning round and an afternoon one – one lot of players will play in the morning, and the rest in the afternoon.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Roderick is the author of the critically acclaimed comic golf novel, Summer At Tangents. Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is also the author of five non-fiction books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.