How to Play the Golf Game Named Derby or Horse Race

Derby, also called Horse Race, is the name of a golf game in which 19 golfers tee off on the first hole, then one golfer per hole is eliminated. By the 18th hole, only two golfers will be left teeing off, and the one who wins that hole wins the Horse Race, or Derby.

Note that this game is also called Shoot Out and, sometimes, Rumpsie Dumpsie.

Clearly, Derby, with 19 golfers teeing off on the first hole, 18 on the second, 17 on the third, and so on, is not a game that a group of 19 golfers can just walk up to any tee box and start playing. Many golf courses don't allow more than four golfers in a group; most don't allow more than five.

So Derby/Horse Race is a game typically played by pre-arrangement, either as part of a golf association's playday (with the golf course reserved for that purpose) or at a private club with light traffic.

The high scorer among all players remaining is eliminated on each hole. But until the group is whittled down to just a handful of remaining players, there will be many tie scores.

If on the first hole, for example, four of the 19 golfers tie for high score, how is that tie broken? How is the eliminated player determined? With a good old-fashioned chip-off. The tied players throw balls down off the green and chip to the hole. Farthest from the hole is the loser.

Given that Derby/Horse Race is a slow game (you start with 19 golfers playing the same hole, after all, with plenty of chip-offs along the way), you can cut the time requirement by cutting the game in half: Start with 10 golfers and play the game over nine holes.

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