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What is a Shotgun Start in Golf

You hear many fun terms and phrases when you enter the world of golf like flyer, mulligan, scramble, slice, and skins. One such unique word that you will hear quite often is “Shotgun start”. So, what exactly is a shotgun start in golf? And when should you use it? All of your questions will be answered in this article so, keep reading!

What does “Shotgun start” in golf mean?

If you are an impatient or an over-efficient player of golf, then you truly understand the pain of finishing your round early and then having to wait for the rest of the competitors to finish. Well, the good news is that there is a solution; “Shotgun start”.

A shotgun start is basically a format for beginning the game. In this particular format, each participating group takes a specific unique hole on the course. After that, a shotgun is fired to indicate the start time for all the players. Then, each player tees off his/her ball from their specified positions.

The main idea behind following this format is to allow a large number of groups or players to finish their rounds without clogging up the driving range unnecessarily.

Player participating in a shotgun start in golf

Rules to play Shotgun start

  • Depending on the number of holes on the golf course ( 9 or 18), each participant would start their game from a unique position or hole.  This means, no two players or groups can begin their game from the same position.
  • The game will only starts when a shotgun is fired.
  • After each player tees off from their respective holes, they will have to play all the holes (9 or 18). This is arranged according to the golf course in a well-organized manner.

For example:

If a specific player or team starts their game from hole 10, then they will have to continue their game through holes 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, and 18 in that order. Once they finish hole 18, they will come back to play from the 1st hole to the 9th hole.

When should you use a “Shotgun start”?

If you are an event organizer at some golf arena and you find it difficult to attend to each and every group or player, then a shotgun start is the only way. Let’s consider three different real-life scenarios that will help you understand how you can use a shotgun start in different situations.

If you have a relatively high number of participants

Having a huge field of players or groups waiting typically means more time on the golf course. This is when a shotgun start can come in handy. It will help you organize the event in an efficient manner without wasting your whole day.

Senior golfer in Shotgun

If you are organizing an amateur event

Amateur events typically include pitching players with relatively equal skills to playing against themselves. However, you cannot grant any player any undue advantage over the other. So a shotgun start is helpful in this case. It will help you monitor all the participants at the same time.

If you are starting an event late

Another scenario where you can utilize Shotgun Start is when an event starts late due to any reason. Now, because you don’t want to stay out late playing for several hours so you can finish the tournament within a short time using Shotgun start.

Golfer is in a shotgun game


Reverse shotgun start is a variation of shotgun start. In the shotgun start all the players tee off from different holes simultaneously. However, in reverse shotgun start players play a full round, but in reverse order.

For example:

The first player takes hole 18 and the second player takes hole 17 until we reach player ten on hole 9. The main idea behind this is to free up the first tee as soon as possible for all the players to get an 18-hole round in.

If there is a large crowd of players on the field on a particular day, then a double shotgun start method comes in handy. With a double shotgun start, the tournament splits between two rounds with one round in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

A modified shotgun start follows the same format as a reverse shotgun and with fewer entrants. Basically, a special tee system prevents any interference with the other paying customers’ games.

For example:

Two groups or players take hole 1,9,8,7,6 until all the players are accommodated. After that, as soon as the last group finishes the first tee the driving range is free for regular play and it does not interfere with any group.

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