How to Play the Modified Pinehurst Golf Format

Pinehurst Resort Club signage
The origins of Modified Pinehurst can be traced to Pinehurst Resort, where the standard Pinehurst format began. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Modified Pinehurst is a golf competition format for 2-person teams in which both golfers on a team hit drives, the best ball is selected to play out the rest of the hole, the golfer whose drive was not chosen hits the second shot, and then the two play alternate shot into the hole.

Modified Pinehurst Goes by Several Other Names

Modified Pinehurst, as we define it here, is also known as:

It's difficult to say which of the names Modified Pinehurst, Greensomes, and Scotch Foursomes is more common; they are all used frequently. Canadian Foursomes is generally considered the least-common of the four names.

Modified Pinehurst vs. Regular Pinehurst

As you probably surmised by the fact this format is called Modified Pinehurst, it is a variation on the Pinehurst System format (which, for good measure, is also known as - perhaps better known as - Chapman System).

In regular Pinehurst (aka Chapman), each golfer on a 2-person team tees off. They then switch drives and both play second shots. At that point, they select the one best ball and play alternate shot into the hole.

In Modified Pinehurst, alternate shot begins after the drives, one stroke sooner than in regular Pinehurst.

The tournament play of Pinehurst and Chapman are referred to by these names because the tournament style was invented by amateur golf legend Dick Chapman over rounds played at Pinehurst Resort, in North Carolina.

Example of Modified Pinehurst Play

Let's give an example of modified Pinehurst in action. Remember, it's for 2-person teams. We'll call the two golfers on our team Bob and Alice.

On the teeing ground, Bob and Alice both hit drives. They walk up the hole to find their balls, and they compare the outcomes. Which drive is in the best shape? Let's say Alice's drive wound up in a better spot.

So they select Alice's drive to continue with. Bob picks up his ball and, because his drive is not the one being used, he plays the second shot. Bob knocks the ball farther up the hole, just short of the green.

Alice plays the third shot. She chips up to with four feet of the hole. Bob plays the fourth shot and makes the putt. The team score is 4.

That's Modified Pinehurst.

You should always get a full explanation of the rules from the tournament organizers because these types of formats and golf games can vary in specific details from place to place. You'll also need to inquire with tournament organizers about the use of handicaps. (Handicap allowances for regular Pinehurst/Chapman are covered in Section 9 of the USGA Handicap Manual.)

Modified Pinehurst can be played as match play (team vs. team) or as stroke play (team vs. field).