Here's how to play alternate shot in golf, including who tees off on which holes
CMC Golf Culture

Here’s how to play alternate shot in golf, including who tees off on which holes


Alternate shot is one of the best and most difficult golf formats. It's a two-person game that requires strategic thinking, a lot of confidence in your partner and, most importantly, execution of the shots.

How to play alternate shot

The game of alternate shot is exactly what the name implies. The two-person team alternates which player hits the next shot on each hole. On the first hole, Partner A tees off. Wherever that ball lands, Partner B hits the second shot. Player A will then hit the third shot from where that second shot lands. This continues until the ball is holed.

In the event of a lost ball, a ball hit into a hazard on the prior shot or needing to take relief from an unplayable lie, the next partner hits the next shot with the penalty stroke(s) applied.

Which partner tees off on each hole?

In most forms of alternate shot, the two-person team determines a consistent order for each partner teeing off throughout the round. One partner picks the odd-numbered holes to tee off, and the other tees off on the even-numbered holes. This, of course, requires some strategy. The team should look at the golf course and its routing to determine whether the odds or evens suit one player better than the other -- not only in terms of tee shots but the expected play of the hole. Perhaps one partner is better suited to putt on more holes, so they want to be set up to putt on more greens. Since every course is different, the strategy is going to change, too. Weather conditions, like which holes play into the wind, may have an impact as well.

Alternate shot scoring

The scoring for alternate shot is the same as you would play in an individual golf round. Your team score for each hole is the total number of shots that you and your partner hit to hole the ball. Add them all up at the end of the round to get the total score.

Playing match play with alternate shot is the same, too, where you'll compare your team score to your opponents' team score to figure out a winner (or a tie) per hole. The team that wins the most holes wins the match.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

Ryan talks about golf on various social platforms:

X or Twitter:

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.