How to Play an Arizona Shuffle Golf Tournament

Arizona Shuffle is the name of a golf tournament format in which the golfers on a team (usually 4-person, but sometimes 3-person teams) are playing their own golf balls throughout, and on each hole a different number of the team members' scores are combined for the team score. For example, on the first hole maybe the two best scores among the team members are combined for the team score, on the second hole three scores, on the third hole just one score.

How do you know how many scores to use on each hole? That depends on how tournament organizers have set it up — there is some variance, depending on who's running the Arizona Shuffle, in how the combined scores are determined. So we'll get into some examples below to make it more clear how an Arizona Shuffle works.

First, a couple quick notes: An Arizona Shuffle might use normal stroke play scoring, but sometimes this format uses Stableford scoring. And there are some other formats that are very similar to Arizona Shuffle. If you've ever played a 1-2-3 Best Ball tournament, a 4-Man Cha Cha Cha or an Irish Four Ball format, then you will find Arizona Shuffle very familiar. Also note that sometimes "Arizona Shuffle" is shortened to just "Arizona." If you see a tournament sign-up sheet for a coming "Arizona tournament," this is probably the format being played.

How Arizona Shuffle Works: Getting Into the Details

All Arizona Shuffle tournaments have three things in common: They are 3- or 4-person team events; golfers play their own golf balls throughout; and the tournament is stroke play (often with Stableford scoring).

Each golfer on the team tees off and plays his or her ball into the hole. Team members then compare scores and — depending on the rules you've been given by the tournament director — decide which scores count.

That might be the one best score among team members, or any other combination of two, three or even all four scores. That's where the variance come in with Arizona Shuffle tournaments. We've seen three versions of Arizona Shuffle that seem to be most commonly used.

Version 1

  • On par-3 holes, the one best score among team members counts as the team score;
  • on par-4 holes, the two best scores are combined for the team score;
  • on par-5 holes, the three best scores are combined for the team score.

Version 2

The version is basically the opposite of Version 1:
  • On par-3s, use the three best scores;
  • on par-4s, use the two best scores;
  • on par-5s, use the single best score as the team score.

Version 3

This version applies to four-player teams only:
  • All four scores are counted on par-3 holes;
  • the three best scores are counted on par-4s;
  • and the two best scores are counted on par-5s.
So let's say you are playing Version 2 and come to a par-4 hole. That means that the two best scores on that hole are combined for the team scores. Golfer A scores 5, B a 4, C a 6 and D a 7. The two best scores are 4 and 5, so the team score for that hole is a 9.

The next hole is a par-3, and in Version 2 that means three scores count. Golfer A makes a 4, B a 4, C a 5 and D scores 3. The three best scores are 4, 4 and 3, so the team score is 11.

More golf formats:

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