Golf is a hugely popular sport played by all ages world wide. A normal course is made up of 18 holes. You may have heard the term Shotgun Start but what does shotgun start mean in golf? This article will provide you with everything you need to know.
How A Shotgun Start Works
A shotgun start in golf, is a format used for golf tournaments when everyone starts simultaneously (at the time time) from different holes. It is not a golf tournament format in itself, instead it is a method used to start competitions or events. Each group is assigned a starting hole, for example Group A would start on Hole 1, Group B would start on Hole 2 and so on, until the 18 holes are used up. As each playing group is assigned a different starting hole, which they will need to start on and work their way around the golf course.
Usually a horn (or traditionally, but rarely used today a shotgun) is used to indicate that the play should begin. It is believed that the term shotgun start was first termed after a club professional named Jim Russell, came up with the concept in May 1956, and fired off a shotgun to let people know that play should begin.
Under the shotgun start method, most golfers will start and finish their rounds on holes which they do not normally start and finish on, but they will still get to play their normal 18 holes worth of golf. For example, if a group starts on the 5th hole under shotgun start rules, when they finish the 18th hole, they will continue playing the 1st – 4th holes. At the end of the 4th hole they would have completed their 18 holes.
Normally players will start from the 1st hole, which is near to the golf club house and car park. This means that players can normally move quickly from arriving to their starting hole. However, under shotgun rules, players starting hole may be some distance away from the clubhouse, and groups will need to factor this time to make sure they are not late.
Why Use A Shotgun Start In Golf?
Golf courses and tournaments use shotgun starts in golf because it enables more people to be playing golf at the same time. For example, if everyone starts on the 1st tee, it normally takes a number of hours until a group of players even begin playing the last few holes. Whereas, under the shotgun start method, players will be starting on the 18th hole at the same time as people are starting on the first hole.
The method is very popular in fundraising events and corporate events where the idea is to fit as many people on the golf course at one time. This means that more entries can be sold, resulting in greater benefits for good causes. It also means that all of the players will finish around the same time, which makes it much easier to arrange for lunch etc.
This is particularly important for fundraising or corporate events, where there might be a guest speaker or celebrity arriving. Otherwise, under the normal starting procedure, players finishing time would be spread out across the day, making it difficult to arrange these activities, as a number of players would either want to be heading home or still out on the golf course.
If there are more than 18 groups playing in a shotgun start (e.g. more than 1 group per starting hole) this can be a bit more tricky to arrange. But don’t fear, it is not impossible. If there are a handful of groups which tip you over the 18 number, it is possible to have two groups start on the longer par 4 and 5 holes, with one group playing marginally ahead of the other.
For example, Group A would tee off from a par 4 or 5 (say hole 4 for example), then when Group A were out of reach Group B would tee off, but before Group C who started on the previous hole (hole 3 in this example).
If there is a significant number of players competing in the competition or event, it is possible to hold a morning and an afternoon shotgun start.
What Is A Reverse Shotgun Start In Golf
When there are less than 18 groups making up a shotgun start then they will often use a reverse shotgun start. The purpose of a reverse shotgun start in golf is to clear the 1st tee as soon as possible so the golf course can start letting regular customers tee off (and make money money).
With a reverse shotgun start, groups will be assigned a hole to start on but instead of starting with hole 1 and progressing forward, they will start with hole 18 and progress backwards.
For example, let’s say the golf outing has 12 groups. Instead of assigning them to holes 1-12, they will instead be assigned to holes 7-18. This way all groups will have cleared hole 1 in the quickest fashion and the course can then start sending golfers out on hole 1 sooner.
What Is A Modified Shotgun Start in Golf
A modified shotgun start can be a bit complex to setup and use but can be a good option for smaller groups. It allows all the groups to finish at a similar time but also allows the golf course to get more regular golfers out on the course.
With a modified shotgun start in golf all groups are still sent to a hole to start their round at a specific time. Form there, the golf course pro will determine how long it will take them to get back to the first hole and then reserves a tee time on hole 1 for each group. It requires a bit more planning and can get tricky when you have the outing group and regular golfers mixed together on the course.
As you can see from the above, what does shotgun start mean in golf – it is a way to get everyone on the course at the same time to reduce the time it takes for all groups to finish and can be a really good way for tournaments and fundraisers to make golf course usage more effective.