If you're looking to gain insight into one of the most exciting and popular aspects of golf tournaments, you're in the right place. Shotgun starts have captured the hearts of golf fans around the world, offering a unique and dynamic way of experiencing the game we all love.

In this article, we'll delve into the significance of shotgun starts in golf and explore their growing popularity in golf tournaments and events. So, get ready to unleash your inner golf aficionado as we embark on this exciting journey together!

What Is a Shotgun Start in Golf? Understanding Shotgun Starts in Golf


A shotgun start in golf is a thrilling approach to organizing a golf tournament, where players initiate their game from different holes at roughly the same time. This innovative method brings a sense of time efficiency and fairness to golf tournaments, as players face similar course conditions throughout the event.

The origin of this captivating concept traces back to Jim Russell, a visionary head pro at Walla Walla Country Club, who introduced shotgun starts to accommodate more players on his golf course while ensuring a seamless experience for both professional golf enthusiasts and country club members.

As you embark on your golfing journey, embrace the excitement and camaraderie that a shotgun start offers, and witness how it elevates the spirit of the game across various golf events, including the prestigious Liv Golf Invitational Series and European Tour.

Remember, greatness lies in embracing innovation and staying open to new possibilities on the greens.

Types of Shotgun Starts

The fascinating world of shotgun starts in golf offers various types to suit diverse tournament needs and preferences. Let's explore some of these types and their unique characteristics:

  1. Reverse Shotgun Start: In this format, the tournament begins at the final hole, and players move backward through the course. This approach helps clear the course quickly for non-tournament players, ensuring efficient use of golf course resources.
  2. Modified Shotgun Start: In cases where the number of players is either too large or too small for a standard shotgun start, a modified version can be implemented. This format accommodates the varying player pool by having them start on a select number of holes instead of covering the entire course.
  3. Disc Golf Shotgun Start: Similar to traditional golf, disc golf also adopts the shotgun start format, with players beginning their game simultaneously from different holes, ensuring a fair and time-efficient tournament experience.
  4. Liv Golf Shotgun Start: The Liv Golf Invitational Series, known for its innovative approach, also incorporates the shotgun start format, offering an exciting and engaging experience for golf enthusiasts worldwide.
Types of Shotgun Starts

In addition to these variations, there are other golf tournament formats related to shotgun starts, such as Best Ball and Scramble. In Best Ball, a team of players competes against another team by scoring only the best total by a player each hole.

Meanwhile, the Scramble format involves all team members hitting their drives, selecting the best shot, and then continuing to play from that spot with alternate shots until the ball is holed.

Each of these formats and variations adds a unique dimension to the game, ensuring a diverse and exhilarating golfing experience for players and spectators alike.

How Does a Shotgun Start Work in Golf?

Executing a successful shotgun start in a golf tournament involves meticulous planning and organization. The tournament director and head golf professional set the rules of play and the tee sheet to start the process.

Players are given a cart and a beginning hole when they arrive, ensuring a quick and easy start to the competition. Carts are typically queued in reverse order, with the one assigned to the last hole being first in line. About 10 to 15 minutes before the predetermined tee time, players head to their assigned holes.

Scorecards play a crucial role in shotgun starts, often featuring pre-printed player names. The printed order is used for teeing up on the first assigned hole, and for subsequent holes, the player with the lowest score (or honors) tees off first.

The previous groups' carts will already be parked at or close to their designated tees as the final group makes its way to the first hole. When the signal is given, all players simultaneously tee off, marking the exhilarating commencement of the shotgun start golf tournament.

How Does a Shotgun Start Work in Golf?

The Pros and Cons of Shotgun Starts

Shotgun starts in golf tournaments offer various advantages and disadvantages for golf courses, players, and fans. Let's delve into the pros and cons to better understand their impact on the golfing world.


  1. Quicker Play: Shotgun starts enable players to begin and finish the tournament simultaneously, allowing for a faster and more efficient game.
  2. Fairness: By starting at the same time, players can experience the course conditions more uniformly, ensuring fair competition.
  3. Scheduling: Golf courses can schedule events like meals and award ceremonies at specific times, as all players will finish around the same time.


  1. Impact on Revenue: Shotgun starts to limit the number of players that can use the course during a tournament, potentially reducing income from green fees, driving range usage, food, and beverage sales.
  2. Limited Availability: The fact that most golf courses only allow shotgun starts on weekdays may have an impact on some players' and spectators' preferred scheduling.
  3. Higher Costs for Players: Since shotgun start tournaments often require additional resources and services, such as mandatory carts or clubhouse meals, the cost per player can be higher than standard green fees.

Overall, the shotgun starts to provide a unique and exciting experience for golf enthusiasts, despite some limitations. As with any tournament format, the pros and cons depend on the priorities of the golf course, players, and fans, so it's essential to consider each aspect when choosing the best format for an event.

Shotgun Starts in Professional Golf

Shotgun starts have been utilized in various professional golf events, making their mark on both the PGA Tour and European Tour. Some notable instances include:

  • European Tour: Shotgun starts have been employed in a few European Tour events to stay ahead of impending inclement weather. The final two rounds of the Portugal Masters in 2015 are a particularly remarkable example of this format in action because it was employed to prevent disruptions caused by the weather.
  • Liv Golf Invitational Series: This unique series of events embrace the shotgun start format, creating an exciting experience for players and fans alike. As players simultaneously begin on different holes, it provides a fresh perspective on traditional golf tournaments.
  • PGA Tour: Although the PGA Tour primarily adheres to the standard tournament style, there have been instances where shotgun starts were considered to accommodate specific situations, showcasing the versatility of this format in professional golf.

Shotgun starts have proven to be a valuable and adaptable tool within the world of professional golf, bringing a sense of excitement and efficiency to the game.

How Long Does a Shotgun Golf Tournament Last?

A shotgun golf tournament typically lasts around 4 to 5 hours, similar to the duration of a regular round of golf. However, this time frame may vary depending on several factors, such as the number of players and course conditions. Since all players start simultaneously on different holes, the tournament's overall length is determined by the slowest group on the course.

Some factors that can influence the duration of a shotgun golf tournament include:

  1. Several players: Larger tournaments with more groups may take longer to complete due to increased time spent waiting at tees or navigating around other groups on the course.
  2. Course conditions: Weather conditions, such as rain or wind, can slow down the pace of play, as players may need more time to adjust their shots and strategy accordingly.
  3. The pace of play: The speed at which each group completes each hole can significantly impact the overall duration of the tournament. Encouraging players to maintain a steady pace can help keep the tournament running smoothly and efficiently.
  4. Skill level of participants: Tournaments with a wide range of skill levels may experience some variance in playtime, as less experienced players may take longer to complete their rounds.

Despite these factors, shotgun golf tournaments are generally designed to finish more quickly and simultaneously compared to traditional golf tournaments, making them an appealing option for players and organizers alike.

In conclusion

Shotgun starts in golf offer an innovative and efficient approach to organizing golf tournaments, providing numerous benefits such as simultaneous starts and finishes, better time management, and fair course conditions for all players. This format has gained popularity in both casual and competitive events, enhancing the overall golf experience.

So, whether you're a seasoned golfer or a beginner, consider exploring and participating in shotgun start tournaments and events. Embrace the excitement, camaraderie, and unique experience that these formats bring to the world of golf.