How to Play a Red, White and Blue Golf Tournament

"Red, White and Blue" is the name of a golf tournament format that utilizes three sets of tees throughout the round: the red tees, the white tees, the blue tees. Or, to put it another way, the front tees, the middle tees and the back tees.

In a basic Red, White and Blue tournament, golfers tee off from the forward tees on all par-3 holes, from the middle tees on all par-4 holes, and from the back tees on all par-5 holes. The name of the tournament derives from the color of the tee markers that traditionally were given (and many places still are given) to the respective teeing areas on American golf courses. The forward tees were designated by red tee markers; the middle tees by white tee markers; and the rear or championship tees by blue tee markers. Red/forward, white/middle, blue/back.

For a Red, White and Blue tournament, the norm is to play it as individual stroke play using handicaps. But any type of scoring or team format can be layered on top of the basic Red, White and Blue format. Whatever the type of scoring used, if the first hole is a par-4, everyone plays it from the middle tees. If the second hole is a par-5, everyone plays it from the back tees. If the third hole is a par-3, everyone plays it from the forward tees. And so on, throughout the round.

There are some variations for those who want to mix it up a little. You can rearrange the order of front/middle/back — for example, make golfers play from the back tees on the par-3s and the forward tees on the par-5. Or you can play the holes for points, with par-3 holes (forward tees) worth 1 point, par-4 holes (middle tees) worth 2 points, and par-5 holes (back tees) worth 3 points.

On American golf courses, it's not uncommon to find Red, White and Blue tournaments scheduled on patriotic holidays such as Independence Day or Memorial Day. Of course, there are many places around the world (and golf courses within the United States, too) that never used red, white and blue tee markers to designate, respectively, forward/middle/back teeing grounds. This tournament format probably exists in those places, too, but perhaps using different colors in its name.

The Red, White and Blue format can also be used by a group of golf buddies for a betting game. In that case, you might want to try playing it as a Skins Game, with holes played from the forward tees worth one unit of the bet; middle tees, two units; and back tees, three units.

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