New Golf Game: 10-Ball, 20-Ball, 30-Ball, 40-Ball

Kevin, Tony, Addison, 20-Ball World Championship, sixth hole, June 3, 2013.

Kevin, Tony, Addison, 20-Ball World Championship, sixth hole, June 3, 2013.

When Tony returned from Atlanta, where he and his wife hide every winter, he brought us a good new golf game, which he learned from his friends down there. Here’s how it works: Let’s say you have four guys, playing two against two. Each pair counts just twenty of the thirty-six hole scores they collectively make during the round, and the winning pair is the one with the lower twenty-score total. After finishing a hole, each pair has to decide, before teeing off on the next hole, whether to count one, both, or neither of the scores they just made. The effect is similar to that of Stableford scoring, since disasters can usually be ignored.

Let’s say that you make a net birdie the first hole, while your partner makes a net double-bogey. You presumably want to forget all about the double-bogey, so you announce (before hitting your tee shots on No. 2) that you’re going to count only the birdie.That makes you one under par after one hole, and leaves you with nineteen scores still to tally before the end of the round. Let’s also say that your opponents, on that first hole, both make net pars. They have to decide whether to count one or both—or to ignore them in order to leave plenty of room for birdies and eagles later on. The truly tough decisions come toward the end of the round, as opportunities dwindle. You don’t want to arrive on seventeenth tee knowing that, no matter what, you and your partner will have to count all four of your scores on the final two holes.

The game can be played with any number of players, in any combination. If you have four-man teams, each team counts forty scores; if you are playing as individuals, each player counts ten. If you have a threesome versus a foursome, the threesome counts thirty balls, then divides by three, while the foursome counts forty balls, then divides by four.

My friends and I reckon all hole scores only in relation to par, so that a five on a par 5 is the same as a three on a par 3. But you could make the game both more interesting and more complicated by counting absolute scores instead.

Kevin and Addison preparing to hit their 3-woods farther than Tony and I can hit our drivers.

Kevin and Addison preparing to hit their 3-woods much, much farther than Tony and I can hit our drivers.