What's The Best Golfing Format To Play?

What's The Best Format To Play

Best Format To Play
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Golf can be played in a number of different ways, but what formats make for the most enjoyable experience? We take a look at the best formats to play.

What's The Best Golfing Format To Play?

There are many formats to play in golf. Whether you are a fan of the traditional strokeplay tournament or the skins game, there's a format for everyone.

But which one is the best to play? What would we recommend for your day on the course? We take a look here.


Stableford is one of the most common formats in golf and can be played by people of all abilities, making it one format that we highly recommend.

Stableford can be played as an individual or team event using a points system in which the goal is to gain the highest score.

The points system works like this:

6 points - Four strokes under

5 points - Three strokes under

4 points - Two strokes under

3 points - One stroke under

2 points - Level par

1 point - One stroke over

0 points - Two or more strokes over

Best Format To Play

Stableford is one of the most popular formats in golf. (Photo by Peter Charlesworth/Getty Images)

The stableford format is a great way to play the game because it doesn't provide the pressure of a medal round. For example, if you make a triple-bogey it only counts as a blob, and not three-over-par. As well as the easing of pressure, the Stableford scoring system is also popular as it speeds up play.

Related: Golf Stableford Format Explained

Texas Scramble

Another recommended format is a Texas scramble, which is usually played by teams comprising of two, three or four players.

The format is a fun one to participate in because you are always playing from the best position: it doesn't matter if one of your team has a shocker; as long as one of you keeps it in play, then you're alright.

One of the attractions of the format is that it can be played by golfers of all abilities. This means that less talented players can join in with little fear of embarrassment, or of being a burden to other players. If your drive is in trouble, then you simply choose one of the other drives.

There are many variations on the rules of Texas scramble. To make it more exciting, some formats require that a certain number of drives must be taken from each player in the team; typically three drives in a four-man team, or four in a three-man.

Related: What is Texas Scramble?


The last of our recommendations is the traditional matchplay, which can be altered in different ways to create more interesting formats.

In match play, the lowest score on a hole wins that hole, with the match being over when one player (or team) leads by more holes than there are still holes left to play. For example, a '4&3 victory' is when one side is four holes up with only three holes to play.

Best Format To Play

Matchplay is a great format if you are playing as a two-ball. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

There are many different ways of playing matchplay, with the primary format being shots given out depending on the difference in handicap. For example, if you play off 10 and your opponent is off 15, they will get five shots.

Another way to play, is to put both players off scratch; but we'd only recommend this if it's two players of similar abilities.

Related: 5 Tips To Beat A Higher Handicap In Matchplay

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x