Golf Formats – Ambrose

The Ambrose format is very popular as it allows all standards of golfers to mix and play together with equal enjoyment irrespective of ability. It also helps to promote teamwork as one score is recorded per hole and generally minimises the amount of time looking for lost balls.

The Ambrose format may vary according to the competition but a general, popular format is the main features of this method of scoring.

Ambrose Scorecard

Example

Groups of two players (2 man ambrose) or four players (4 man ambrose) work as a team. Each player hits off the tee, the best shot is selected and all other players pick up their ball and place it, within one handspan, alongside the best ball. Each person then hits a second shot from the same spot. The best shot is again selected. This continues until the ball is in the hole. On the putting green the best ball is marked and the other balls are played from this position.

One score is thus recorded on each hole. This is the sum of the best shots used throughout the hole.

In an ambrose format you would expect your gross score to be under or very close to the par of the course. This is because the best shot from the team is chosen for each shot. In other words your group has four chances to hit a good shot. It certainly takes the pressure off the less skilled golfers and is a good team building format.

There is often one additional requirement. During the course of the round all player's drives must be used on a set number of occasions.Generally this is three. So if you have a beginner golfer in your group it may be prudent to use their drives early in the round so as to not put pressure on them as the rounds concludes.

Key Features of Ambrose

  • Some formats may require players to play in the same order for all shots
  • The minimum number of drives per player may vary according to the specific format you are playing. A minimum of 3 drives is common and fair without being too onerous. If the golfers in your competition are more beginner than intermediate a relaxing of this rule to 2 drives (or even 1) may be appropriate.
  • If your best ball is played from within a hazard then each of the player's balls must be played from within that hazard.
  • If you are in a team of 3 players (for 4 man ambrose) then most formats will allow a fourth putt to be taken by any of the team members.
  • Your end score is adjusted for the handicap of the players in your team.
  • If you are in a team of 4 golfers (playing 4 man ambrose) then the combined handicap of all players is calculated and divided by 8 to arrive at the team handicap. This is then subtracted from the Gross Score of the Team to arrive at the Net Score.
  • If you are in a team of 3 golfers (playing 4 man ambrose) then the combined handicap of all players is calculated and divided by 6 to arrive at the team handicap. This is then subtracted from the Gross Score of the Team to arrive at the Net Score.
  • If you are in a team of 2 golfers (playing 2 man ambrose) then the handicap of the team is calculated by combining the handicaps of the 2 players and dividing by 4 to arrive at the team handicap. This is then subtracted from the Gross Score of the Team to arrive at the Net Score.
  • A typical winning score is in the mid 50s as a Net Score. It is rare (but possible) that a winning score is under 50.

Positives of Ambrose

  • It allows golfers of all standards to participate in the day without feeling intimidated by other players in their group who are better than them.
  • It promotes teamwork as every player has a chance of contributing towards the team score.

Negatives of Ambrose

  • Many golfers, when playing in a golf day, are playing a golf course they have never played before. In this case they often want to play an individual ball for every shot and record a score for themselves rather than the team oriented Ambrose format.
  • Ambrose can be a slower format (even though it would appear not)
  • Groupings of players is very important to ensure the "ideal" mix of players is achieved. An ideal 4 man ambrose team should comprise 1 player under a 10 handicap, 2 between 10 and 20 and 1 over 20. Female players in a team also impact favourably on the handicap adjustment made at the end of the round.
  • Unsubstantiated handicaps can often decide the winner. The so called "beginner" off a notional handicap of 27 (but who hits the ball 250 metres on occasion) can give a team an unfair advantage. One way of combatting this is to limit the handicap maximum for unofficial handicapped players to 20 for Men and 36 for ladies.
  • As each team generally consists of 4 people playing together there is no independent score keeper. Accordingly this form of scoring relies on the honesty of the team members (which should go without saying). This is not the case with 2 man ambrose where in a group of 4 there are two teams who can check each others score.
  • When you purchase prizes you will need to consider purchasing either 2 or 4 of each prize category as Ambrose is very much a Team competition.

Overall Comment on Ambrose

A friendly format, fun for all standards of golfers and used in the vast majority of Corporate Golf Days. Even though the negatives above outweigh the positives Ambrose is still generally the most suitable format for most Corporate Golf Days.

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