Golf Monthly looks at three of the best two ball formats that are sure to bring something different to your round next time you hit the course.

The Best Two Ball Formats In Golf

Stableford Nassau 

How it works: Starting with a fairly straightforward one, this is basic Stableford with full handicap allowance, but there are three competitions going on simultaneously. You play your opponent for best Stableford total on the front nine, the back nine and the overall round. Generally, you would have a suitably modest and responsible wager on each of the components: “Pound, pound, pound!”

When to use: If you’re keen to keep record of your own score as well as enjoying a bit of friendly competition out on the course.

GM Verdict: A good format as there’s normally something to play for right to the very end. If one player races away on the front nine, there’s always a chance of the other limiting the damage with a good back nine, perhaps even claiming the overall match.

Bisque Match Play

Two Ball Formats

How it works: Essentially, this game is exactly the same as singles match play, with the only variance that the player receiving strokes (full difference) can choose when he or she would like to take them… and the decision to use shots must be taken at the completion of a hole! For example, if a gross five is scored against the opponent’s four, a shot can be taken to earn a half. If a player has a considerable number of shots to play with, more than one can be taken on a single hole.

When to use: When playing with a regular partner and looking to mix up the usual match.

GM Verdict: This variation on match play certainly adds a real element of strategy and uncertainty to any match. Do you opt to sacrifice a couple of holes early on to save up shots for a late charge?



String Game

Two Ball Formats

How it works: Rather than receiving strokes, each player gets a length of string equivalent to their handicap – one foot per shot. The string can be used to move the ball to a more advantageous spot wherever your ball lies, without it costing you a stroke. The player measures the distance the ball has been moved and cuts this length off their piece of string. The ball might be moved out of a hazard or, crucially, into the hole on the putting green. The ball can be moved as many times as the player likes, as long as they have string left.

When to use: Two poor putters comparing their tee-to-green skills – all those narrowly missed putts could be ‘tapped in’ with just a short piece of string.

GM Verdict: Great fun every now and then, but all the logistics and string cutting can be a faff, so best played when the course is quiet and you have time to spare.