The Golf Formats Known as 'Odds and Evens'

Odds and Evens is the name of a golf format that can be used for tournament play. Wait, it's actually name of two different formats. Both of them can be used for tournament play, one of them also makes good matches in a 2-vs.-2 setting.

Version 1: Alternate Name for Alternate Shot

"Alternate shot" is one of the basic team competition formats in golf, and Odds and Evens is often just another name for alternate shot.

An Odds and Evens tournament of this sort begins with the golfers on a 2-person team deciding which of them tees off on the even-numbered holes and which tees off on the odd-numbered holes. Sometimes the golfers themselves get to make that decision; other times (depending on instructions from tournament organizers) that decision is made randomly by drawing lots or some similar method.

On each hole, the golfers alternate playing shots. Let's say Golfer A is the driver on odd-numbered holes. So on Hole 1, Golfer A plays the tee shot. Golfer B then hits the second shot. Then it's back to A for stroke three, B for stroke four, and so on until the ball is holed. The two golfers on the team alternate playing the strokes, until holing out.

The alternative name for this format of "Odds and Evens" is just a reflection that one of those golfer hits all the even-numbered drives, while the other plays all the odd-numbered drives.

A group of four golfers can also pair off into 2-person teams and play this version of Odds and Evens among themselves, either as stroke play or match play.

Version 2: 4-Person Teams, Low Balls

This version of Odds and Evens can actually be played by 2-person and 3-person teams, too, but 4-person teams are most common. This version of Odds and Evens has nothing to do with alternate shot. Instead, it is a form of best ball.

On each hole, all four members of the team play their own ball into the hole. So all four team members are playing standard stroke play. But how many of those scores count for the team? That's where the odds and evens come in.

In this version of Odds and Evens, the one low score among team members counts for the team score on odd-numbered holes; and the two low scores are combined for the team score on even-numbered holes. (Or vice-versa — tournament organizers will instruct you.)

If Golfer A scores 6, Golfer B makes a 5, C has a 4 and D has a 7, what is the team score? If they made those scores on an odd hole (such as Hole 1, Hole 3, etc.), then the team score is 4 — the one low score (or best ball) counts. If those scores were made on an even-numbered hole, the team scores is 9 — Golfer C's 4 is added to Golfer B's 5 (two low scores, or the two best balls).

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