golf matchOriginating in 15th century Scotland, golf has become an established spectator sport throughout Europe, the United States, and beyond. However, without knowledge of the game’s scoring systems and the player’s goals, it can quickly become a dull experience.

If you’re about to watch your first golf match and want to fully enjoy the game by, read on for our complete spectator’s guide!

1. Start Formats

Golf tournaments usually start as one of three different formats depending on the number of players. These include:

Shotgun Start

These are for large groups of 60 or more players. Each group starts at a different hole for each round with the goal of starting and stopping the tournament at the same time.

Standard Start

Groups of about 36 or less start at only one hole with equal intervals of approximately 10 minutes. This is better for smaller events as you’ll need to wait for each person to start.


Groups will begin at two different holes simultaneously. This is great for mid-sized groups of about 40 to 56 players.

2. General Scoring

Generally, you want to complete the game with as few strokes as possible.

Each hole has a par, or the minimum strokes you can take before it counts against you. Scoring is different depending on the number of strokes you take compared to par:

  • Condor/Triple-Eagle: Four strokes under par
  • Albatross/Double-Eagle: Three strokes under par
  • Eagle: Two strokes under par
  • Birdie: One stroke under par
  • Par: Strokes equal to par
  • Bogey: One stroke over par
  • Double-Bogey: Two strokes over par
  • Triple-Bogey: Three strokes over par

3. Scoring Methods

The way a golf game is scored greatly affects the difficulty of the game. Depending on the skill level of players, a different scoring method will be needed.

Stroke Play

The player that uses the least amount of strokes is the winner. This is the most common way to score.

Match Play

Each hole is scored individually. The player with the least amount of strokes for that hole wins, and the player that wins the most holes wins the entire game.


Players receive points for each hole based on the number of strokes they’ve taken to complete the hole based on the par. If they take more than two strokes over par, the points stop and they simply receive a score of zero. Of course, at the end of a match the player with the most points wins.

4. What to Wear

Now that you know how golf tournaments are typically scored and their formats, we’ll go into more practical tips so you’re at your most comfortable at the match.

Focus on wearing lightweight material that flows so you’re still cool throughout the tournament. Wear comfortable shoes and sandals that you’d use to walk around in, or opt for golf attire so you can show that you’re a true fan.

Lastly, make sure you take sunglasses, a hat, and load up on plenty of sunscreen. Skin damage from the sun is no joke. Tournaments typically take four days to finish and you can expect to stay the whole day before it concludes.

5. How to Watch a Golf Match

Inside the entrance of the match grounds, you’ll find boxes holding the pairings guide and the players’ tee times for the round. These guides typically include a map of the course that also directs you to bathrooms, food and beverages, and more. Grab this map–especially if you haven’t been to the location before!

Since the grounds are so large, you’ll have to choose a method of watching the players. Either you can pick out your favorite hole and watch all of the players come through, or you can choose your favorite group and travel with them. This way, you’ll be getting in some exercise as well and getting a better view of the course.

Consider what your priority is for that day and commit. You’ll also want to be aware of some of the basic golf rules.

6. Take a Break

Don’t feel like you have to sit in one spot the entire match–part of the fun of going to any sporting event is enjoying the food and drink and browsing the souvenirs. Thankfully, many tournaments offer a fan zone that provides a variety of food selections and food trucks.

There also might be games to play, local sponsors to check out, and mementos to take home with you–whether that be a hat, t-shirt, keychain, sticker, or more.

7. Don’t Forget Autographs

If you have a favorite player at the tournament, remember that there may be an opportunity for you to grab an autograph. Tournaments often set up autograph zones near the course’s clubhouse for just this purpose. It’s not recommended to try and approach players when they’re about to play or when they’re already on the course–their mind is typically focused on the game.

Watching Your First Golf Match: Enjoy Your Day

Now that you know all about golf scoring methods and how to navigate a tournament–whether you’re sitting at one hole or following your favorite players–you’re ready for the big day. Best of all, a golf match is far more enjoyable in person than on the television. You can see how your favorite players prepare for each swing and the amount of practice, precision, and dedication it takes to golf under par.

Ready to view your first match or play your own game? Check out our beautiful golf courses today!