A Comprehensive Guide to American Foursomes Golf Format

American Foursomes

American Foursomes, also known as Pinehurst System, is an engaging and popular golf format that combines teamwork and individual skill. The game is played by pairs, where both players tee off on each hole and then swap balls to play their partner’s shot for the second stroke. After this, the team chooses one of the two balls and proceeds to play alternately until the hole is completed.

The unique aspect of this golf format lies in the necessity for both players to contribute effectively to their team’s performance. This means that good communication, strategic thinking, and adaptability are essential for success in an American Foursomes match. As a result, the format has gained popularity not only in casual games, but also in competitive golf tournaments.

Rules and Variations

Green and view

Basic Rules

American Foursomes is a golf format that involves teams of two players. In this format, both players on a team hit their tee shots, then swap balls for the second shot, playing their partner’s ball. After the second shots, the team chooses the best ball, and play proceeds as in regular foursomes with alternate shots until the hole is completed. Handicap allowance is usually ⅜ of the combined handicaps.

A key aspect of American Foursomes, also known as Pinehurst or Chapman, is that it allows stronger players to work with weaker players, promoting a sense of camaraderie and teamwork.

The scoring in American Foursomes can be done using either match play or stroke play formats.

Origin and Variations

The origin of American Foursomes is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have been developed as a variation of the traditional foursomes golf format. American Foursomes has several variations, including Greensomes, Scotch Foursomes, Canadian Foursomes, and Gruesomes.

  • Greensomes: In this format, both players hit their tee shots, and then the team selects the best ball to continue playing with alternate shots.
  • Scotch Foursomes: A variation where partners alternate hitting tee shots, and the other partner plays the second shot until the hole is completed.
  • Canadian Foursomes: Similar to Greensomes, but after selecting the best tee shot, players continue with alternate shots until the hole is completed.
  • Gruesomes: A more competitive version where the opposing team selects which ball the other team must continue playing after the tee shots.

Each of these variations has its own unique features, but they all involve elements of teamwork and alternate shot play, which make them popular choices for team-oriented golf events.

Structure and Handicaps


Match Structure

Unlike traditional foursomes, American Foursomes allows both team members to have an active role in each hole from the tee shot right through to when the ball is holed. This format is commonly played in various tournaments, including the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

Scoring and Handicaps

Scoring in American Foursomes can take the form of both match play and stroke play. In match play, the objective is to win the highest number of individual holes, while in stroke play, the aim is to achieve the lowest total number of strokes throughout the round. Handicaps play an essential role in this format, enabling fair competition between golfers of different skill levels.

Calculating handicaps for American Foursomes can be done according to the USGA Handicap Manual using a combination of both players’ handicaps, usually applying 3/8th of the combined value. For example, if Player A has a handicap of 12 and Player B has a handicap of 20, their combined handicap would be 16 (3/8th of 32).

In Stableford scoring, golfers accumulate points based on their results at each hole relative to par. In an American Foursomes Stableford tournament, the final score would be calculated as a net score (total strokes minus the team handicap) for each hole and then converted to points. The team with the highest total points at the end of the round is declared the winner.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are handicaps calculated in American Foursomes golf?

Handicaps in American Foursomes golf are calculated using 3/8 (37.5%) of the combined handicaps of both players. For example, if player A has a handicap of 16 and player B has a handicap of 12, the combined handicaps will be 28. Their allowance will be 3/8 of 28, which is 10.5, rounded up to 11.

What is the difference between American Foursomes and Canadian Foursomes?

The primary difference between American and Canadian Foursomes lies in the second shot. In American Foursomes, both players play a second shot using their partner’s ball after teeing off. In Canadian Foursomes, both players also tee off, but they only play a second shot using the ball they have nominated, continuing with alternate shots afterward.

How do you score in American Foursomes using the Stableford system?

To score in American Foursomes using the Stableford system, calculate the individual Stableford points for each hole based on the gross score and handicap allowance. Add the points from both players to get the final team score. The team with the highest aggregate Stableford points wins.

When playing Foursomes golf, communication between partners is crucial. Discuss shot selections, club choices, and target areas for each shot. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of both players and try to play to each player’s strengths. Decision-making should be a team effort, and a focus on course management and conservative play can often result in better scores.

How does scoring work on an American Foursomes scorecard?

Scoring on an American Foursomes scorecard is similar to traditional golf. Record the gross score for each hole and apply any handicap allowances as appropriate. The difference in American Foursomes mainly comes from the unique alternating play format. The final result should be a combined team score based on the chosen scoring system, such as stroke play or Stableford points.