Canadian Foursomes: How to Play the Golf Format

Both Golfers on Team Hit Drives, but It's Alternate Shot After That

A Canadian foursome of golfers
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Canadian Foursomes is a golf tournament format for two-person teams, or a game that can be played within a group of four golfers playing two-versus-two. It is known by several other names, including Scotch Foursomes and Modified Pinehurst, but is more commonly called Greensomes.

The basics of Canadian Foursomes go like this: Both golfers on a side tee off. The team members decide which drive is best — which one ball they want to continue with — and continue playing that one ball taking alternate shots until the ball is holed. The golfer whose drive was not used plays the second shot.

Key Takeaways: Canadian Foursomes

  • Canadian Foursomes begins with both golfers on a team playing drives.
  • They select the best of those two drives and continue from that point playing alternate shot.
  • A twisted variation on this format allows your opponents to select which of the two drives your side must continue with.
  • The format is more commonly called Greensomes.

Mechanics of Canadian Foursomes Gameplay

In the "regular" version of foursomes, the two golfers on a side play alternate shot throughout. This means that only one drive is played. If Player A hits the drive, Player B plays the second shot, Player A the third, and so on, the two partners alternating shots.

But in Canadian Foursomes, the big difference is also one that ensures both golfers get to play more shots: Both golfers hit drives.

So in Canadian Foursomes, Player A and Player both tee of on each hole. The partners compare the results of those two drives and select the best one. They continue playing alternate shot from that point until the ball is holed.

And, as noted, the golfer whose drive is not used is the one who plays the second stroke. So, to put it all together: Player A and Player B both hit drives. Player B's drive is best, so the partners decide to continue with Player B's drive. Player A picks up her ball, and Player B plays the second stroke. Player A hits the third stroke, Player B the fourth, and so on, alternating shots, until the ball is holed.

(Note that in scorekeeping, the drive on each hole is counted as one stroke, even though both players hit drives. One of those drives is thrown out, and the partners continue with one ball.)

See our more detailed explanation under Greensomes for additional info including handicap allowances.

A 'Gruesome' Variation of Canadian Foursomes

There's another version of Canadian Foursomes called Gruesomes (also sometimes known as Yellowsomes) that comes with a, shall we say, gruesome twist.. Gruesomes is more commonly a betting game; it is rarely used a golf tournament format, but can be. 

In the Gruesomes variation, after the two partners both hit their tee shots, your opponent chooses which ball your side continues with. And your opponents are going to chose your side's worst drive, not your best — the gruesomer version of your side's drives, the one more likely to lead to a gruesome score for your side.

One other rule variation to this game is that the person who hit the "gruesome" first drive also has to play his or her side's second stroke. After that, the play proceeds as alternate shot until the ball makes it into the hole. Basically, this version gives a double whammy of bad shots to the team with the more "gruesome" tee shot.