What Is Greensomes?

Here we explain greensomes; one of golf's most fun formats

Difference Between Greensomes And Foursomes
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Greesomes is a commonly used format in club golf, largely due to its fun and more relaxed nature. It carries a very similar premise to that of foursomes (alternate shot), a format utilised in the Ryder Cup, with only one very small difference; which we'll get into here. 

Greensomes is commonly made up of teams of two. Each player hits a tee shot and must then select what they perceive to be the best drive and play alternate shot from that position until the hole is complete. For example, if Player A hits the tee shot, then Player B plays the second shot and so on. 

You then complete your score card like you would a regular stroke play round, marking the gross score on each hole. You may have to use the 'Player A' and 'Player B' columns depending on which person's drive was chosen as some competitions enforce a minimum number of tee shots that each player must hit during the round. 

Once your gross score is complete, take the handicap allowance off at the end of the round. CONGU, the handicapping authority within GB&I, which is also part of the World Handicap System (WHS), recommends that the allowance should be 60% of the lowest handicap, plus 40% of the highest handicap.

For example, if Player A has a handicap of 5 and Player B has a handicap of 15, their greensomes handicap would be 9 (5 x 0.6) + (15 x 0.4) = 3 + 6 = 9.

If you are playing a match play format, use the same method to calculate the allowance for each team and deduct the difference. 

5 Tips For Playing Greensomes 

Although a fun and relatively relaxed format, there are some simple tips to playing well in greensomes.

1. Pick Your Partner Wisely

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

As is so often the case with team golf, there is an underlining sense of not wanting to let your partner down. The fact is however, you will. Golf is endlessly difficult and it is almost impossible to go the entire round without hitting a bad shot. The key is how you react and having someone by your side who is supportive is key.

As well as having someone with whom your personalities align, pick a partner who has a game that compliments yours. If you consider yourself to be a good driver of the ball, having a partner that is strong with their irons and wedges is advantageous. That way, you'll be putting for birdie more often than not.

Similarly, if approach play is your strength, having a partner than is consistent off the tee will put you in a better position to score.

2. Don't Always Pick The Longest Drive

(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

In greensomes, you both hit the tee shot before selecting what you consider to be the best drive. As is so often the case, the longest tee shot doesn't necessarily mean it is the best.

One drive may leave 110 yards for an approach, whilst another might leave 135 yards. Human instinct would suggest the drive closest to the green is better but take a moment to stop and look at the shots in front of you before making that decision.

If your pair is made up of one high handicap and one low handicap golfer, you have a statistical advantage with having the lower handicap golfer take the approach shot (in the example above).

Of course, that is not always the case as golfers have individual strengths but these must be considered before you make your decision.

You must also consider whether each player is required to hit a minimum number of tee shots, as per the rules of the competition. It may not always be the case but if each player must contribute a minimum number of drives, factor that in when making your decision. The last thing you want is to have to rely on a person hitting the last tee shot when the pressure has mounted. 

3. Strategic Putting

(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

Drive for show, putt for dough - a phrase we have heard more times than we care to admit.

In greensomes, and indeed, foursomes, putting is key. As you only play half of the shots as you would in a normal round, it is natural to want to make each one count; and that subconsciously applies more so on the greens.

As is so often the case, Player A is faced with a 20-foot putt and tries everything in their power to hole it. It then races 5-feet passed the hole and Player B must save their bacon.

The key to the format is to resist the feeling of trying to shoot the lights out. Save that for a fourball format. In greensomes, and foursomes, you must be strategic in when you attack and that applies as much on the putting green as it does elsewhere on the course. Racing every putt by the hole and leaving your partner with a difficult return is not the recipe for success. 

4. Don't Finish The Hole!

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For the majority of the time, golf is an individual game and we have our own instincts programmed in us. Unfortunately, these can be troubling in greensomes.

If you are faced with a putt that comes agonisingly close to going in, you must resist all temptation to tap it in. Remember, once you have selected your tee shot, it is foursomes (alternate shot) until the hole is complete. In this example, your playing partner must tap it in. 

5. Think About The Ball You Use 

(Image credit: Jeremy Ellwood)

After both players have hit the drive, it becomes alternate shot from that point forward. If you select Player A's drive, Player B must use the ball of Player A.

On face value, it might seem a little pedantic but keep in mind that both players may use dramatically different golf balls in their day to day life. If Player A is used to hitting a premium golf ball and Player B is using a distance ball, it may be difficult for both players to adapt.

Try to reach a compromise before you start the round, that way you give yourself the best opportunity for success. 

James Hibbitt
James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.