What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?

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Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

Shotgun start tournaments work great at getting a group of golfers onto a course at once.

No matter what the name might suggest, you don’t need to take part, but you might miss out on the fun! Shotgun start tournaments are fun and fair.

what is a shotgun start in golf

These competitions don’t have anything to do with wandering tee shots, making them a lot of fun for beginners and more seasoned players alike.

You’ll learn what a shotgun start in golf involves, including its history, how the tournament works, and its advantages and disadvantages.

Keep reading to learn more about shotgun starts!

When Did Shotgun Starts In Golf Begin?

People often debate when shotgun tournaments first started as golf has a very long and legendary history.

Despite this, no one can argue over the phrase, ‘shotgun start’, as this has always been linked to Jim Russell, head of the Walla Walla Country Club (Washington).

Russell did a lot of work attempting to get players on and off his country club fairways as quickly as possible.

He understood that many people wanted to play on his course, but for most of the year, Washington mornings were very cold to allow for earlier tee times.

This meant that he couldn’t regain lost earnings from day-long competitions. It also wouldn’t be right to book his fairways for the whole weekend as other country club members couldn’t use the grounds.

As every group was positioned at holes one to 18, Russell fired a shotgun to indicate that it was time to tee up and start playing.

This began in May 1956, so while shotguns may have been acceptable in the past, for safety reasons, air horns or sirens are used today.

Tee times in the early hours bring extra moisture, which can make the balls roll slower. On the other hand, later starts can bring faster greens and may be affected by previous games.

Shotgun starts and a single tee time can be seen as fairer, as the course remains in the identical condition for every player as they start playing.

Shotgun Start In Golf

Shotgun formats are tournaments that begin at a single, prearranged time. This tends to occur at 8 in the morning or 1 in the afternoon.

A group of four players is positioned at every hole. Group A will begin at the first tee, group B at the second, and so on.

You can have more than 18 groups by positioning another group of four on all of the club’s par-five holes. Bigger tournaments might choose to have another set on every par-four hole.

How Do Shotgun Start Competitions Work?

The head golf pro and tournament organizer tend to specify the game’s parameters and tee sheet. In most cases, you can be appointed a cart and a beginning hole as you arrive on the course.

The carts tend to be ranked in reverse order, so the last hole, number 18, will be the first one. You will go to your designated hole around ten minutes before tee time.

Some courses have scorecards with every player’s name labeled on them. This sequence will be used to tee up on the first allocated hole.

Once everyone has finished on the first hole, the order follows in honors for the following holes. This means that the player with the best score plays first.

Once the final group leaves for hole one, all of the preceding carts will be near or at their designated tees.

The shotgun will sound shortly afterward, indicating that it is time for everyone to tee up and start driving.

what is a shotgun start in golf

Why Are Shotgun Starts Necessary?

Having every group begin at the same time on a different hole allows the tournament to start and finish all at once. This affects normal customers a lot less if they want to play golf on the same date.

Typical tournaments have every player beginning on the first tee with various start times, so the final group can finish several hours after the first one.

Shotgun start arrangements mean that small tournament golfers can finish playing soon and carry on with their day.

These tournaments can be charity games that also schedule a trophy presentation and meal.

Having everyone begin at the same time allows the meal to be planned for a particular period, so no players will be late or have to wait for others.

As fewer golf rounds will be played, golf courses tend to limit shotgun start competitions to weekdays. Some courses limit the tournament to a particular number of golfers, generally between 60 and 72.

If the field is too small or big, it might be altered to include fewer holes. If there are a lot of players, a double shotgun tournament with two different times might be necessary.

As the tournament will be used for many hours and cannot hold as many players as it would normally, the club might have other rules. These range from compulsory carts and having meals and a presentation at the clubhouse.

The rules also mean that the cost for each golfer will be more than typical green prices. Other costs may involve nearest-to-pin awards or weather insurance if necessary.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Shotgun Tournaments

The advantages and disadvantages will vary, depending on whether you defend the golfers or the golf course.

Shotgun tournaments do limit how many people can play on the course, which can lower earning potential. Other than green fees, this also accounts for food and drink sales, pro shop, and driving range.

Advantages include assured sales, new players, and promotion. The golfers playing can move quickly from the tournament to the prize celebrations.

The tournaments also allow you to see coworkers and friends away from work.

Despite this, the costs for shotgun tournaments are higher compared to your usual golf game. The time frame also weighs heavily on the slowest group on the field, which you’ll have to wait for.

The Bottom Line

A shotgun start in golf happens when several groups of players begin playing at the same time on different holes.

This allows the game to progress faster as there aren’t any different start times on a particular number of holes.

If you’re concerned about how long a tournament lasts, shotgun starts are a great solution. However, if you want more flexibility while you play, it’s better to settle for your usual tee times instead.

Luke Griffin

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

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