If you’ve ever played golf, you’ve probably heard of the term “shotgun start.” It’s kind of unique to the sport.
After all, only in golf can players compete on the same shared piece of land in at least 18 — really, more like 40 — different places at the same time. And a “shotgun start” is designed to take advantage of the fact that a golf course can be used more efficiently, and a golf tournament can be completed more quickly, when golfers are competing on more of the golf course simultaneously than waiting to tee off designated holes (typically Nos. 1 and 10, or just No. 1).
So, a shotgun start in golf is starting a tournament in a way that sends each group in a tournament field to a specific, unique starting hole or position. Then, when the shotgun start happens — named for the idea of firing a shotgun in the air as the indication all players should start their round at the same time — each group tees off from their specified hole.
From there, each group plays the nine- or 18-hole round going around through the course in ordinal order from where they begin the round. For example, a group which tees off on the 11th hole would then play holes 12-18 before riding around to the first tee and then playing holes 1-10 to round out the day.
The point of a shotgun start is to allow for a large field of players to get through a round without having to clog up a driving range all day in preparing for a tee sheet of starting times, keeping them engaged and moving so the course also doesn’t have to necessarily give up a full day for an event. Almost always, shotgun starts are done with players riding out to their starting hole on carts, but riding in the cart throughout the round is not always a requirement. Sometimes, players will drive out to their starting hole, taking off their bags and walk, either by themselves or with caddies.
No matter the players’ choices, a shotgun start is a great way to condense the time it takes to play a tournament.