What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?

Unlike the start of a running race, a shotgun start does not typically involve a loud bang. However, golfers should still look out for them as they can indicate big changes to a tournament. That’s typically at the very start with teams teeing off at individual holes instead of hole 1.

The shotgun start can make it easier to organize a golf tournament and it can take less time for every golfer to complete the course. In this guide, we will look at the definition of a shotgun start in golf, how it works, and the ordinal order on a golf course. We will also look at the benefits and drawbacks of a shotgun start.

What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf

What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?

Should a golf tournament have a shotgun start, you can expect that the holes are allocated to teams of four golfers. There should be 18 groups in total and the format can include a team (see also: What Is Four Ball In Golf?)competition, individuals playing in those teams, or a better-ball pairing.

The groups of four each begin on a separate hole with all of the 18 groups getting around the course until they have finished each hole. However, a pair of groups can tee off at the same holes that have par 4 or 5 so you can have one group teeing off as soon as the initial group is out of range. 

The likelihood is that you may be unlikely to see or hear a shotgun, even if a shotgun start has been agreed upon for a golf tournament. Some old-fashioned golf courses do still use the firearm but it seems to be an old-fashioned method. Instead of a shotgun, you can expect a siren or loud horn to be used which will sound really loud. 

How A Shotgun Start Works

When a shotgun start is declared at a golf course, the groups of four golfers should be quickly agreed upon. After that, each group will play the 18-hole (though it could be a nine-hole course) in ordinal order. 

The Ordinal Order On A Golf Course

As each group tees off from a specifically designated hole, the groups move on to the next hole. This means that the group that tees off from the 9th hole will then move on to the 10th hole next and so on. After that group has completed hole 18, they head back to the first hole, tee off and then complete holes 1 to 9 to finish off the course.

The Benefits Of A Shotgun Start

The shotgun start allows a big number of golfers to complete a round without all having to wait to tee off. A typical start for a golf tournament involves a tee sheet with everyone’s start times so they all go around in order.

That start can take up so many hours yet with a shotgun start, it might not take all day to finish a tournament which can be ideal for golfers, spectators, and course officials. With a shotgun start, you can expect the prizes to be handed out at the end of the day and even have time for a post-event meal, if the weather allows it. 

The Drawbacks Of A Shotgun Start

There is a common drawback for golfers that comes with a shotgun start. Many golfers want to start at a hole near to the club house. However, they may have to tee off at a hole that takes a while to get to, even in a golf cart.

While there is a simultaneous start, the finish might not quite be so coordinated as there are typically some golf groups that take longer to complete the course than others. 

What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf (1)

A shotgun start has to be booked by the golf course as if the minimum number of players is not found, the course may insist on a first tee start. There may also be restrictions on when the golf tournament can be played.

For instance, many courses will not allow a shotgun start on the weekend so the golf tournament may have to be held during the week. 

Final Thoughts

The shotgun start makes great use of a golf course as so many players can play at the same time. A tournament with such a start can be efficiently managed and completed quicker than with a conventional start.

It can be quite tedious for spectators to see golfers all tee off from the same designated hole. With a shotgun start, the teeing off can be more exciting as so many golfers begin their rounds at the same time, just from different holes.  

A shotgun has been used to start a golf tournament and it was said to be first used in May 1956 by Jim Russell. The head pro belonged to Walla Walla Country Club which is in Washington State and, thankfully, no one was injured as a result of the shotgun being fired.

A shotgun is also used to start golf tournaments at charity events and has been used for recognized tournaments. You are more likely to hear a siren for all golfers to hear across the entirety of the course simultaneously.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Known As A Modified Shotgun Start?

Instead of having groups start on each hole simultaneously as you would in a shotgun start, a modified shotgun start uses a slightly different format. The scenario involves two groups of golfers that are placed on the first hole then a few other holes.

This tee system is to prevent interference with other golfers that are just going about their typical rounds. Once the tournament entrants tee off on their holes, other holes are available for those paying customers. 

What Is The Honeypot When It Comes To Golf?

Another term that you might hear on a golf course is the honeypot. This is a slang term for the prize pool or bonus payout at a golf tournament. The honeypot is a loose term as only those golfers who pay into the pot are considered eligible to win at the climax of the tournament. 

Garratt Shmidt
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