How to Play an Eclectic Tournament in Golf

The format is also called a ringers tournament

Three-panel illustration of golf swing
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An eclectic tournament is a multi-round golf tournament that results in one 18-hole score per player. Golfers compare their scorecards for each round and select the lowest score for each hole. That's their eclectic score.

An eclectic tournament is also called a ringers tournament, and the final, 18-hole score that results at the end of the eclectic is often called the golfer's "ringers round" or "ringers score."

An eclectic tournament can be a stand-alone event contested over consecutive days. More commonly, it is a bonus competition that runs concurrently, over longer time periods, through other, unrelated tournaments.

Figuring An Eclectic Score

Eclectics work this way:

  • Each golfer plays the designated number of rounds.
  • At the conclusion of those rounds, the golfer (or tournament committee) compares his scores on each hole per round. 
  • The lowest score made on each hole is recorded for the eclectic, producing one 18-hole score.

For example, let's say the eclectic is made up of three rounds. In the first round, the golfer scores a 6 on the first hole; in the second round, he scores a 7 on the same hole; and in the third round, he scores a 4. The lowest of those three scores on the first hole is a 4, so 4 is the golfer's eclectic, or ringer, score.

Eclectics Often Run as Part of Other Events

An eclectic tournament can be run as a fun, two-day tournament, but it is often not a stand-alone event. More commonly, an eclectics run concurrently through a season or schedule of events.

Golf leagues or associations may keep track of their players' best scores on each hole throughout the season and present a prize at the end of the season. Participation may be included or may be optional with a separate fee.

Eclectics show the golfers' potential—what they could score if they shot their best score on each hole. The ringer scores also show golfers which holes are most challenging for them and where they need to improve.

Eclectics and Ringers May Differ

Although the terms "ringers" and "eclectics" are often used interchangeably, they may differ with the use of handicaps. The term "ringers" is often used for gross scores. "Eclectics" may be used for an event with gross scores, but it is also the preferred term when net scores are used.

Depending on the golfers' handicap, they subtract strokes from their hole-by-hole scores. For example, a golfer with a handicap of 8 would subtract a stroke from their score on the eight most difficult holes as indicated on the scorecard. On the other 10 holes, their gross score must be used. On the other hand, a golfer with a handicap of 20 would subtract two strokes on each of the two most difficult holes and one stroke per hole on each of the remaining 16 holes.

To make scoring simpler, most golf courses have computer software that prints scorecards with dots on each hole to indicate the number of strokes the golfers may subtract. The scorecards may also have an extra line to record the net score.