Golf is a sport that is rich in tradition, but that doesn’t mean that new innovations and methods aren’t occasionally introduced to the game. One such example is the shotgun start in golf, a format of play where all golfers tee off at the same time from different holes on the course. This unique approach has become increasingly popular in tournaments.
Thus, in this article, we will dive deep into answering the question, “What is a shotgun start in golf?”
Shotgun Start: What is a Shotgun Start in Golf?
First and foremost, it is crucial to understand what is a shotgun start in golf. A shotgun start is not a style of a golf tournament. It’s how a competition begins. So, a shotgun start is a golf tournament opening format that assigns each group to particular starting holes.
The shotgun start derives its name from the concept of blazing a shotgun into the air to signal the start time for all players. In other words, it instructs the groups to tee off on their designated holes simultaneously.
So, each hole on a course will serve as the starting point for each foursome. Group 1 would begin with Hole 1, Group 2 with Hole 2, and so forth. Every group begins play at the exact moment. A shotgun start will enable a tournament to conclude when the slowest foursome completes a round of golf or 18 holes. If there are more than 18 teams, some will double up as A and B teams at the 4 and 5 par holes.
This style is ideal for charity events because everyone begins and ends simultaneously. As a result, this enables a post-event lunch where the rewards can be awarded. It may also be utilized for a big group and corporate tournaments and occasions when everyone rides together on a bus to the location.
A Brief History of Shotgun Start
Because golf has such a long and rich history, there is significant debate about when the first shotgun-style competitions took place. But there’s no disputing the phrase “shotgun start,” coined by Walla Walla (Washington) Country Club pro-Jim Russell. He went to great lengths to get tournament participants on and off his magnificent country club courses as soon as possible, and he was imaginative.
Russell was aware that his course was in high demand. While the sun sets late in Washington, the mornings were too chilly for early tee times much of the year. So, there was no way to recoup lost money from a day-long tournament. And it wasn’t fair to the country club members for a whole weekend to be booked full.
Russell fired a shotgun to alert each golf group stationed at holes one through 18 to tee up and begin play, according to the December 2004 issue of Golf Digest. That occurred in May of 1956; thus, the principle has been verified, and no one has ever been shot. Nonetheless, sirens or airhorns are more commonly – and tediously – utilized today.
Due to wetness, early morning tee times may meet dull greens, while later starters may encounter quicker greens and the impacts of recent play. So, shotgun starts with the same tee time, providing some built-in fairness because the course is in the same condition for each player when they begin to play. Cognitively, starting on the first or tenth hole can affect a player’s game. While sun and wind can also have modest effects owing to the course layout.
Main Key Points of Shotgun Start
- All players start at the same time.
- Different starting holes for each group of players.
- Convenient for large tournaments.
- Timing and organization are critical.
- Etiquette and safety are important.
- Randomized starting holes.
- Starting order may be randomized or determined by pre-determined methods.
- Effective communication and coordination are crucial.
- A modified shotgun start may be used to accommodate more players or adjust for course layout or conditions.
- Some players prefer a shotgun start for finishing earlier and avoiding potential slow play.
- Availability of facilities is important.
- The tournament format may impact whether a shotgun start is used.
How a Shotgun Start Tournament Works
Let’s dive deep into how a shotgun start works in a tournament: Assume the competition has 18 groups of four golfers each. The golf course has designated each of those groups to a different hole.
When golfers arrive, they will most likely find the golf carts ready; each labelled to identify which golfers get which cart. The carts will most likely be positioned in reverse order, with the carts for golfers starting on No. 18 being first in line.
As the start time approaches, tournament administrators instruct everyone to board their carts and proceed to their designated starting holes. And the famous procession of golf carts begins, as it does at every tournament, with a shotgun start. Thus, golfers proceed on their carts, arriving at the teeing grounds of their designated holes.
In a shotgun start competition, the groups (almost often four golfers to a group) wait on their allotted tee box until they receive the opening signal. That signal is usually some horn (such as an air horn). But it might be loud enough to be heard across the golf course. It can also be a loudspeaker on the roof of the clubhouse. And yes, even a shotgun blast.
So, golfers start playing from every tee box on the course as soon as they hear the beginning signal.
What Are the Benefits of Shotgun Start?
A shotgun start in golf implies that all players start at once rather than at regular intervals from the first tee. Assume the tee times are 10 minutes apart. That means it takes around 180 minutes for 18 groups of players to start their rounds utilizing such tee timings. However, with a shotgun start, all 18 groups tee off at the same time.
Hence, that implies they finish earlier than if the event started from the first tee, and the groups spend about the same time.
Because of the time savings, shotgun starts are highly popular with fundraising events, business trips, and association playdays. And having all of the golfers finish simultaneously makes it easy to get everyone involved in any follow-up activities ( like lunch, awards ceremony, etc.).
Therefore, time management is the key to the shotgun start.
The primary benefit of this format is that it allows nearly all participants to complete their rounds simultaneously. It can also be helpful if the event includes an award ceremony or dinner after the competition, as all participants will arrive at the clubhouse.
Furthermore, the shotgun start approach is appropriate for winter days when the days are short or when activities occur at night when less light is available. Everyone plays the entire 18-hole course, but they alternate where they start. As a result, if they tee off on the 13, they will finish on the 12th green.
The location of a player’s starting point on the course is ignored for countback reasons. No matter when these holes were played, the back nine of the course will consist of holes 10 through 18.
What’ll Happen If More Than 18 Teams Enter?
We’ve discussed tournaments featuring 18 groups (four players apiece), one each hole in our examples. That equates to 72 participants. But what will happen if more than 72 players are in the tournament?
While keeping the shotgun proceeding structure, there’s a way to deal with this. At the par-4 and par-5 holes, two groups take turns starting at a similar tee. Assume Groups A and B are assigned to begin on the par-4 No. 4 hole. So, group A starts when the beginning signal sounds. Golfers walk to their respective fields and strike their second shots.
And when the players of A group are no longer within striking distance, the Group B golfers tee off. As such, the second team will arrive at the same hole before finishing with the first team. And other players participate in the shotgun start.
(Par-3s are typically excluded since a second group on a par-3 tee would instantly produce traffic delays around the golf course. It is because the B group couldn’t tee off until the first group cleared the hole.)
In this case, the per-tee-one-group scenario, the pace of play is critical for all golfers in a shotgun start in golf: keep up with the group ahead! Thus, the entire field is slowed down by one sluggish group.
Rules to Follow While Booking Shotgun Start Tournament
When scheduling this sort of tournament, most golf venues have tight restrictions and guidelines in place (since the number of people engaged effectively limits the course to other golfers), which may include one or more of the following:
- Most courses have starting hours limited to either 8 a.m. or 1 p.m.
- These events may be limited to weekdays or particular days of the week. On weekends, most courses do not allow this sort of event.
- The course may require the tournament to have weather insurance.
- A certain minimum of players must be present. If this minimum is not fulfilled, the course can return the tournament to a first or split tee start.
- Some clubs require membership permission for specific competitions.
- Deposits for this event may be greater than for typical first tee starts. Cancellation notices may also need to be provided in advance.
- The club typically requires a post-event lunch at the clubhouse.
- The club may impose a minimum prize purchase requirement from the club pro shop.
- Even if the host group typically forbids carts at their events, the course may mandate required carts for all competitors.
- Quoted pricing may be subject to a fee,
How Do Tee Times Differ?
A tee time tournament provides each competitor with a specified start time throughout the day. When everyone is given a tee time, they usually all start at the first hole on the course. Hence, tee timings are generally spaced out by 10 to 15 minutes to let players go down the route and keep the game flowing.
Tee times are helpful when organizing a massive event with many competitors since they give everyone freedom. People with hectic schedules will be more inclined to join if they select a tee time that works for them.
Which Tournament Style Should You Pick?
Whether you employ a shotgun start or tee times, your tournament will be interesting and exciting for every one of your participants since each adds something unique to the event.
If the length of the event is an issue, a shotgun start in golf is a terrific way to get everyone through quickly and free the course for more golfers. At the same time, tee times are an excellent alternative when you need flexibility.
Thus, it is up to you to decide which is ideal for your occasion!
What Are the Drawbacks of Shotgun Start?
Like anything else, the shotgun start format has benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, each team should, in principle, finish the 18-hole course at around the same time. It is also a more efficient competition because tournaments operate more smoothly and may be completed faster.
However, someone will always be dissatisfied with being allocated a hole that requires a lengthy walk. While the purpose is that all participants complete at the same time, some groups will inevitably finish later than others.
Whether the shotgun start method is more entertaining is personal and entirely dependent on the spectator. Still, it makes better use of enormous courses and ensures that everyone finishes at around the same time, allowing everyone to participate in post-game events together.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a shotgun golf tournament last?
Typically, a shotgun starts a golf tournament that lasts two and a half hours for nine holes. For eighteen holes, the game could take up to five hours.
Why do golfers start hole 10?
It saves time since half of the participants are already playing holes 1-9, whereas the rest are playing holes 10-18. When the lead group from holes 10-18 is about to play hole 1, participants from holes 1-9 are already on the course, completing hole 1. As a result, there is no disturbance to the 1-9 half.
What is a reverse shotgun start?
It is a variation of a Shotgun Start which is implemented if the tournament has less than eighteen foursomes. The objective of utilizing a Reverse Shotgun is to complete hole one quickly, accommodate more customers and earn more money.
Why is it called a shotgun start?
The shotgun start derives its name from the theory of blasting a shotgun into the air to announce the starting time for all participants. It instructs the groups to commence on their designated holes simultaneously.