Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Plays Alternate Shot Anymore?

The Ryder Cup will never really belong to men in pink jackets
The Ryder Cup is made up three events: Foursomes, Fourballs, and Singles. 

Singles is a traditional match play event.  Two golfers go head to head, if a player wins a hole out right he gets a point, and the player with the most points wins the match.

Fourballs (insert joke here) is where four golfers-- two from team USA, two from team Europe-- each play the hole, and the team who has taken the fewest strokes on each hole will get a point.  And again, the team with the most points wins.

Foursomes is an alternate shot format, where two players from each team take turns hitting a single ball.  The team in the hole with the fewest strokes on each hole wins. 

Anyone who plays golf enough has played singles matches or fourballs matches with your buddies.  With my friends, we usually opt for four balls.  That way each player can keep his own score, but there is still a team/rivalry aspect that keeps the round interesting no matter how poorly you play.

But when was the last time you heard of anyone play alternate shot?  I have played quite a bit of golf and I've never even heard of someone recommending that we play alternate shot.  Why?  Well to be honest I think there are two reasons: one economic, one practical.

The economic reason?  From a dollars and sense reason no one plays alternate shot because no one wants to pay for a round of golf to only hit half the shots they normally would.

The practical reason?  You cant record your alternate shot round.  The entire game has become a side-bet, and there is little way to gauge your own performance.

But alternate shot makes for great TV.  It brings teamwork into an individual game.  It has given us great memories like Tiger and Phil utterly failing.  And Tiger and Stricker totally dominating.  It puts personalities together and makes two people operate like one.

Alternate shot isn't everyone's favorite format, and its certainly not what I would choose to play with my buddies at a course.  But it is hands down, without question, the best format for Ryder Cup events.

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