Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Other Golf Games - Alternative Golf

Most people are barely aware of alternative golf games. If you're a golfer or have some interest in golf, you pay attention to the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and maybe even watch the Golf Channel.

The golf game we know is played according to the rules of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland (R&A). However, there is, shall we say, an underground of golf games played by millions.

These golf games are called alternative golf. They can be classified by:

- Change in golf courses
- Change in golf rules
- Change in equipment
- Miscellaneous

Change of Golf Courses

The typical golf course - called a championship course is roughly 7,000 yards usually peppered with hazards such as woods, narrow fairways, bunkers, and water hazards. However, we have golf courses that are less difficult to play, such as:

Executive courses which can vary in distance and difficulty, but they usually have several holes with pars of 4.

Par Three courses are much easier than executive courses, and all the holes have a par of three.

Distances that you easily reach the green with a nine iron characterize pitch and Putt courses.

There is also a category of golf course called a short championship course. These courses are usually fairly difficult, but the overall distances are much shorter such as 5,000 yards.

A primitive golf course can take on a number of forms, including pastures and parkland. The grasses may be cut short, but the greens can take on any number of forms. They could be sand or well-manicured greens.

Perhaps the most well known alternative golf game is miniature golf or putt-putt golf. Of course, miniature golf is a drastic change in the golf course.

Change in Golf Rules

Less know are golf games that have made significant changes in the rules as administered by the USGA and R&A. Most were created to make the game of golf easier for the recreational or casual golfer. Two such golf games are:

TeeGolf is a game characterized primarily by the use of tees anywhere on the golf course except the green. Players may improve their lies and take Mulligans without penalty. There are no restrictions of what type of golf clubs or golf balls that a player can use, giving the recreational golfer a better chance of hitting the ball farther.

SortaGolf is a golf game characterized by the player being able to improve their lies plus take one Mulligan per 9-hole round. As in TeeGolf, there are no restrictions on golf clubs and golf balls.

Change in Equipment

The major golf game where the equipment is changed is disc golf. The Frisbee-type discs are thrown at a basket-type apparatus. The game is scored by the number of times you throw the disc to reach the basket.


There are several miscellaneous golf games that are hard to classify.

Speed golf is played on any regular golf course where the players play by USGA rules, but they run the course. The score is obtained by combining the number of strokes and the running time.

Extreme golf is played at a ski resort where the players start out at the top of the ski lift. They then hit the ball to the start of the lift. The number of strokes it takes to run the lift 9 or 18 times tallies the score.

Snow golf is played on any regular course in the snow. Rather than hitting the ball into the hole, the players have to get the ball into a circle usually 6 feet in diameter.

While this is not a comprehensive list of alternative golf games, but these cover the primary golf games that we play other than what we commonly call "golf."

Go out and try an alternative golf game. You'll enjoy it!

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