In alternate-shot golf, who hits what shot and in what order? Here's how it's determined
Presidents Cup Ryder Cup

In alternate-shot golf, who hits what shot and in what order? Here’s how it’s determined


In the Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup -- among other team-based match-play competitions in golf -- foursomes (also known as alternate shot) is a popular format. It's unique, as it's typically not played much in the United States outside of these kinds of events.

For golf fans, they typically have a pretty simple understanding of foursomes (or alternate shot). However, something fans may not know is which player hits which shot and the order in which shots are hit in alternate shot.

How is the order determined in alternate-shot golf?

In alternate-shot golf, the two players on each team determines who will tee off on the odd-numbered holes and the even-numbered holes. That determination is made official with the first shot of the day. When Player A tees off on the first hole, they are committing to teeing off on holes 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17. At that point, Player B is set to tee off on holes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18.

Players on the same team typically make this choice based on how the course is laid out. The better driver of the partners is more likely to take the holes that are longer -- including the par 5s. The better approach player is likely to take the half that has the most par 3s. But there are different ways to make that decision, and players with similar skills may simply pick the holes that feel most comfortable to them.

After the players determine on which holes they're teeing off, the players then alternate hitting shots on each hole. If Player A tees off on the hole, then Player B hits the next shot. Player A will hit the third shot. This pattern continues until the team holes the ball or the hole is conceded by either side.

The better approach player this week at Marco Simone is likely the one to tee off on the even-numbered holes, but the course does offer opportunities to score for strong driving on Nos. 16 and 18, for example. This will be a key decision for the European side, which has dominated foursomes on foreign soil for the last 30 years.

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