How to Play the St. Andrews Foursomes Golf Format

St. Andrews Foursomes is the name of a modified alternate shot golf format for 2-person teams. Both golfers tee off on all holes during the round and select the best drive, but they equally divide who plays the second strokes. And there's a catch: They have to decide before the round begins which of them plays the second strokes on odd-numbered holes, and which plays the second strokes on even-numbered holes.

St. Andrews Foursomes falls into the category of modified alternate shot games that also includes Greensomes, Chapman System and Gruesomes, among others. This format also goes by the names of Fensomes or Fensome.

In standard alternate shot, one golfer on the side tees off, the other plays the second stroke, the first plays the third, and so on until the ball is holed. They alternate playing the shots, as the name implies. In St. Andrews Foursomes, both golfers on a side hit drives. They select the best of those two shots to continue with. Then one of the two golfers plays the second stroke. Which one?

In St. Andrews Foursomes, the golfers decide before the round begins who gets the even holes and who gets the odd holes. Let's say Golfer A takes the odds and Golfer B takes the evens. And let's say that on Hole 1, Golfer A's drive is selected. Hole 1 is an odd-numbered hole, so Golfer A then plays the second stroke. Then Golfer B hits the third stroke, A plays the fourth, and so on until the ball is holed.

On Hole 2, we already know that Golfer B (in our example) will be playing the second stroke because it is an even-numbered hole. Both golfers play drives. Whether A's drive or B's drive is selected is irrelevant to who plays the next stroke: It's an even hole, so B is playing it. Then A plays the third stroke, B the fourth, and so on until the ball is holed.

So to sum up St. Andrews Foursomes:

  • Decide before the round which golfer plays the second stroke on even holes and which plays the second stroke on odd holes.
  • Both golfers tee off and the best drive is selected.
  • The two golfers play alternate stroke from there, with the identity of the golfer playing the second stroke based on whether it's an odd- or even-numbered hole.

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