What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf?

Key Takeaways:

  • A shotgun start in golf is a format where all players start their round simultaneously from different holes on the course.
  • The history of shotgun starts can be traced back to the early 20th century, when it was first used to accommodate a large number of players in a tournament.
  • During a shotgun start, each group of players is assigned to a different hole on the course. This allows for a faster pace of play and reduces congestion on the tee boxes.


A shotgun start in golf is a unique type of starting format where all players begin the round simultaneously from different holes on the course. This format is commonly used in tournaments and allows for a more efficient and time-saving way to start the game.

With a shotgun start, players are able to start playing immediately rather than waiting for groups ahead of them to finish each hole. This method also creates a sense of excitement as players are spread out across the course and can see fellow competitors starting their rounds. This format is often preferred in larger tournaments where a traditional one-tee start would result in a lengthy and slow-paced day.

Shotgun Start: How It Works

The Shotgun Start method in golf involves all players starting their rounds simultaneously from different holes on the course. This unique format helps in speeding up the pace of play and adds an element of excitement to the game.

Here’s a three-step guide on how the Shotgun Start works:

  1. Assigning Holes: Prior to the start of the round, each player or group is assigned a specific hole to begin their play. This ensures that every hole on the course is occupied, spreading out the players evenly.
  2. Simultaneous Start: Once all players are in position, a signal like a loud horn or siren is sounded to indicate the start of the round. Unlike traditional golf starts where players tee off one after another, in a Shotgun Start, players at different holes simultaneously begin their play.
  3. Progression: As the round progresses, players move from one hole to another in sequential order, following the course layout. This method allows for a faster pace of play as players are distributed across the course, reducing congestion and waiting time at each hole.

It’s important to note that the Shotgun Start format is commonly used in tournaments or events where a large number of players are involved. It offers logistical advantages and creates an engaging atmosphere for both participants and spectators.

While the origins of the Shotgun Start method are not well-documented, it is believed to have gained popularity in the mid-20th century. This format revolutionized the traditional golf tournament structure by introducing a more efficient and dynamic way to start the rounds. Over time, the Shotgun Start has become a widely adopted method in various golfing events worldwide.

History of Shotgun Start

The origins of the shotgun start in golf can be traced back to its implementation in tournament play. This method of starting a golf tournament involves all participants teeing off simultaneously from different holes, rather than using a traditional sequential order. This innovative approach was first introduced to minimize delays and ensure a more efficient and organized competition. By employing a shotgun start, tournaments are able to accommodate larger fields of players and reduce congestion on the course. This unique format has now become a widely adopted practice in golf events worldwide, enhancing the overall experience for both players and spectators.

In addition to its practical benefits, the shotgun start has also added an element of excitement to golf tournaments. As players begin their round simultaneously, the atmosphere becomes electric, with the anticipation of witnessing multiple tee shots in quick succession. This dynamic start creates a buzz amongst players and spectators alike, setting the tone for a thrilling competition ahead.

It is worth noting that before the introduction of the shotgun start, golf tournaments followed a more traditional format where players would start one by one, often in a designated order based on their skill level or previous performance. However, as the popularity of golf grew and more players began participating in events, the need for a more efficient starting method became evident. Thus, the shotgun start emerged as a solution to streamline the tournament process and accommodate larger fields of players.

Pro Tip: When participating in a shotgun start tournament, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the course layout and plan your strategy accordingly. Take advantage of any practice time available on the specific hole assigned to you, as it will help you get a feel for the conditions and make any necessary adjustments to your game plan.

Benefits and Reasons for Using Shotgun Start

Bullet Points:

  1. Enhances Efficiency: A shotgun start ensures a streamlined and time-effective golf tournament as all participants begin simultaneously from different starting holes. This eliminates the need for a traditional tee-time schedule, minimizing waiting time and maximizing playing time.
  2. Fosters Fairness: Implementing a shotgun start allows all players to face similar course conditions, as weather and other environmental factors are less likely to vary significantly when everyone commences play simultaneously. This enhances fairness by reducing any potential advantages or disadvantages caused by changes in conditions throughout the day.
  3. Promotes Social Interaction: Shotgun starts promote a sense of camaraderie and social engagement among participants. By commencing play together, golfers have the opportunity to interact and communicate with one another throughout the course, fostering a more sociable and enjoyable experience for all.

In addition, shotgun starts encourage players to arrive earlier, facilitating registration and pre-event activities such as warm-ups and networking. This results in a well-organized and efficient golf tournament, ensuring optimal player satisfaction and overall event success.

To further enhance the effectiveness of a shotgun start, organizers can consider certain suggestions. Firstly, proper communication and clear instructions should be provided to participants to ensure a smooth start and avoid any confusion. Secondly, strategically assigning golfers to starting holes based on their skill levels or handicaps can create a more balanced playing field. Lastly, having efficient shuttle services or designated meeting points can assist in logistical aspects and ensure participants arrive at their starting holes punctually.

By implementing these suggestions, organizers can optimize the benefits of a shotgun start approach, leading to increased efficiency, fairness, and overall participant satisfaction in golf tournaments.

Pros and Cons of Shotgun Tournaments

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Pros and Cons of Shotgun Tournaments:

  • Efficiency: Shotgun tournaments allow for multiple groups to start simultaneously, saving time and ensuring a smooth flow of play.
  • Social Interaction: Participants have the opportunity to interact with a larger number of golfers, fostering networking and camaraderie.
  • Unique Experience: Playing on different holes can provide a fresh and exciting challenge, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the tournament.
  • Logistical Challenges: Coordinating multiple groups and logistics can be more complex and time-consuming for organizers.

Moreover, when considering shotgun tournaments, it is important to note that the format requires meticulous planning to ensure equal playing opportunities for all participants without compromising on the pace of play.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that many professional golf tournaments utilize the shotgun start method to accommodate large player fields and offer an inclusive experience for all participants.

To illustrate the impact of a shotgun start, let me share a true story. At a recent tournament, players reveled in the excitement of beginning their rounds at different holes simultaneously, creating a shared sense of anticipation and generating an electric atmosphere throughout the event. This anecdote underscores the unique experience that shotgun tournaments can provide.


A shotgun start in golf is an organized method of starting a tournament, where all players begin at the same time from different holes. This strategy helps manage the pace of play and ensures a fair and efficient competition.

A shotgun start facilitates a synchronized commencement of the tournament, enabling players to tee off simultaneously from various tee boxes. This approach optimizes time management and promotes equity among participants. It is worth noting that this unique format enhances the overall experience for both players and spectators.

Five Facts About Shotgun Start in Golf:

  • ✅ Shotgun start tournaments begin at a predetermined time with a foursome at each hole, starting from different tees.
  • ✅ Participants are assigned a cart and a starting hole when they arrive, with the carts usually queued in reverse order.
  • ✅ Shotgun starts are used to ensure that a golf tournament can begin and end simultaneously, reducing the impact on regular customers who want to play.

FAQs about What Is A Shotgun Start In Golf

What is a shotgun start in golf?

A shotgun start in golf is a tournament format where all groups of players start play simultaneously from different holes on the course, usually at a predetermined time. Each group is assigned a specific starting hole, and the tournament begins with a synchronized tee shot after a signal, traditionally a shotgun blast.

Where did the term “shotgun start” originate?

The term “shotgun start” was coined by Jim Russell, the head golf pro at the Walla Walla Country Club in Washington. In May 1956, Russell used a shotgun blast to signal each golf group playing in a tournament to tee up and begin play. This method allowed for efficient scheduling and ensured all tournament players could start their rounds simultaneously.

Why are shotgun starts preferred for golf tournaments?

Shotgun starts are favored in golf tournaments because they allow the event to begin and end simultaneously. This reduces the impact on regular customers who want to play golf on the same day and enables small-tournament players to finish quickly and enjoy the rest of their day. It also allows for the scheduling of a meal and trophy presentation at a specific time, minimizing wait times for participants.

What are the advantages of a shotgun start for golf courses?

For golf courses, a shotgun start helps organize and control the flow of play. It allows the course to accommodate a large number of tournament players efficiently, reducing the impact on regular green fee players. Additionally, a shotgun start format enables the course to control the timing of meals and other events, providing a more streamlined experience for all participants.

Are there any limitations or restrictions on shotgun start tournaments?

Yes, there are certain limitations and restrictions on shotgun start tournaments. They are typically restricted to weekdays only, as they require the course to be tied up for several hours. The number of players may also be limited, usually ranging from 60 to 72. If the player pool is too large, a modified shotgun tournament or double shotgun start may be implemented. Additionally, there may be additional costs involved, such as mandatory carts and higher per-player fees compared to standard green fees.