The Long and Short Golf Format

How do you play the golf format named Long and Short? It's right there in the name: Long and Short is a 2-person team game in which one of the partners plays all the long shots and the other plays all the short shots.

The Long partner is responsible for drives and approach shots, the Short partner is responsible for pitches and chips, bunker shots, and, in some cases, all the putts (more on this below).

Partners can play Long and Short just for fun, or a group of four can play it as a 2-vs.-2 betting game. And Long and Short can be used as a tournament format.

Setting a Distance Standard and Handling Putts In Long and Short

If playing Long and Short, whether for fun, money or in a tournament, it's best to set a specific distance as the dividing line for playing shots. Most commonly, groups and tournament organizers set that distance as 150 yards. The Long golfer plays all shots of 150 yards and more; the Short golfer plays all the shots inside 150 yards.

Now, you might have just recognized an issue: A majority of strokes played in a round of golf happen from inside 150 yards, so won't the Short partner be playing more strokes? Alternating putts helps even out the strokes.

We noted above that sometimes the Short golfer is responsible for all the putts. But more commonly, the two partners alternate putting once the ball is on the green. After the Short golfer chips or pitches or wedges the ball onto the green, the partners alternate taking putts. Tournament organizers should tell groups which golfer tries the first putt, but if playing it for fun or as a betting game your group of golfers can decide that for itself.

Who Makes for Good Long and Short Partners

What types of golfers make great Long and Short partners? Ones that are very strong in the area you are weakest at! If you're a great driver and iron player but have a terrible short game, then, obviously, you'll want to try to pair up with a golfer who has a fabulous short game. And vice-versa.

But you can also reverse that if two golfers want to play Long and Short as a practice game: take the shots you are both weakest at in order to work at them. (Just allow more time for the round and don't hold up play.)

And here's some great advice for the types of golfers who might enjoy Long and Short as just a fun twist on a round, quoted from the Chi Chi Rodriguez book Golf Games You Gotta Play:

"Long and Short is an excellent game for beginning golfers and the players trying to teach them. Rookies can learn the game from the green out ... The game is also an excellent way to pair a young, strong player with an older golfer who may have lost a few yards off the tee but still has a splendid short game. Or maybe you just know a gorilla who can hit it a mile with his drive but couldn't hit a lob wedge or bunker shot to save his life — partner him with a touch player and it's a team to be reckoned with."

And we'll add that husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, parent-child pairings can make a lot of sense in Long and Short, too.

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