By Paul Myers
Most forms of golf competition are single events, such as individual stroke play or match play. If you play in tournaments at your club or with your local golf association, these are the kinds of events that you are likely to take part in most of the time. However, you may have the chance to play in a team event from time to time as well. These tournaments usually feature formats such as best ball or alternate shot, and they can be a great way to have fun competing on the course with your friends as teammates.
When you do sign up for one of these events, you will quickly notice that there are some unique skills required to play team golf. The way you think about the game, and the way you strategize your way around the course, are going to have to change if you are going to be successful. While you will get better at this style of play with experience, the tips below should help you get off to a good start.
Be Aggressive in Best Ball
Best ball is probably the most-popular format for team competitions, so you should get yourself comfortable with playing under the rules of this format. In best ball, you and your partner each play your own ball on each hole, and the best score counts. The scoring is simple, but the strategy can be complex. For the most part, you are going to want to stay aggressive when playing best ball competitions. Since you have a partner to help you out, you can afford to make a few mistakes in an effort to find more birdies. As long as one of you is able to keep the ball in play on each hole, you should be able to avoid any ‘disasters’ along the way.
Alternate Shot is Harder
Alternate shot competitions for amateurs are less-common, but you should prepare yourself for a tough day on the links if you do happen to find one. Playing alternate shot is exactly like it sounds – you and your partner only play one ball, and you alternate shots throughout the round. Scores are typically high in this format, meaning conservative play is almost always the right way to go. Once you get in trouble while playing alternate shot, your team score can get out of control in a hurry. Work on putting the ball in play at all times and do your best to leave your partner with easy shots.
One of the most important things you can do in team golf is to remain positive and supportive of your partner throughout the round. There is no benefit to thinking negatively, or to getting mad after your partner makes a mistake. From the time you start on the first tee until the last putt goes in, maintain a good attitude and give every shot your best effort. It won’t always be easy to stay positive, but you can look forward to better results when you leave the negativity at home.