Ryder Cup formats and why I love them

The 2012 Ryder Cup started this morning and the morning format is Foursomes. If you are unfamiliar with Foursomes play, here’s a quick description:

– 2 players vs 2 players
– Each team decides one player will tee off on even numbered holes, the other on odd numbers
– After each tee shot, the team member who did not hit the drive plays the second shot. This alternate shot format continues until the ball is holed.

This format is a ton of fun from a strategy perspective, and in the Ryder Cup it’s magnified. Think about how Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are approaching the “even/odd” thinking on tee shots. Does either players ball flight play into the course set up? What can happen to momentum and morale if one player is striking it well and the other player is just “off” or feeling the pressure of competition? A wonderfully executed tee ball into a prime spot in the fairway could be followed up by an approach shot to the green that is poorly played, leaving a difficult up and down for the player that put the team in great position off the tee.

Be it the Ryder Cup or a friendly match at your local club, Foursomes is always a unique and interesting way to compete. Take this weekend and the Ryder Cup to watch match play. In Great Britain, Ireland and Europe, it’s still the preferred way to “have a game”. In America, we get caught up on stroke play. Refresh yourself and play a different game!

One of my favorite golf experiences was playing a Fourball match (better ball of partners) one afternoon in 2005 at Muirfield in Scotland. A traditional match with friends on what I consider to be the finest golf course I have ever had the pleasure of playing. That was a day where golf was definitely “pure”.

Go play well. And remember, have fun when you’re out there.

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