What Is a Golf Tournament Proxy Contest?

"Proxy contest" is a collective name for several distance-related bonus games that organizers of some golf tournaments — charity tournaments, corporate outings, association playdays and the like — include as part of the day's play. We're talking about things such as closest-to-the-pin contests.

The "proxy" in "proxy contest" is short for proximity or proximate, meaning nearby or within a short distance.

When you read a golf tournament announcement and it says there will also be proxy contests or proxy prizes, it means that one or more of the following (or similar games) will be included:

  • Closest to the pin: At one of the par-3 holes, golfers who hit the green have their distance from the hole measured. The one golfer among the entire field who gets closest wins.
  • Straightest drive: Typically a white chalk line is laid down the middle of one of the straightest par-4 or par-5 holes on the golf course. Distance away from that line determines the winner.
  • Longest drive: Exactly what it sounds like, measured on one designated hole.
  • Longest putt made: Again, exactly what it sounds like, measured on one designated hole.
Holes used for proxy contests might be attended by a tournament official who does all the measuring. Or the hole might come with a "proxy marker," a small signpost that golfers stick in the ground when one gets closer (or longer) than the previous best effort.

The winner of a proxy contest typically receives some kind of bonus prize.

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