The best way to choose fair teams, according to low handicaps

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What's the best way to decide fair teams?

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Flicking a tee? Drawing at random? Everybody loves to play a fun game on the course, but when it comes to picking teams, what’s the best way to do it? Enter GOLF’s resident low-handicaps, who are here to offer some helpful advice, golfer-to-golfer.

1. Before the round

Dylan Dethier (+3.3 handicap): The best way to decide? Early in advance. There should be some smack-talk flying well ahead of your fourball even getting to the first tee, so see what you can do to organize teams a week out and get mentally prepped. If that’s impossible, put the highest and lowest handicaps together. And if everybody’s playing straight up, toss golf balls. There, three options for one question!

2. High vs. low handicaps

Luke Kerr-Dineen (2.2 handicap): It’s pretty common to pair high and low handicaps together, but the big downside of playing this way is that the strokes end up cancelling each other out. It in-effect makes it a match between the two low handicaps — with the occasional pitch-in from the higher ones.

Instead, pair the high handicaps together. Sure, there’ll be more strokes to contend with, but for good reason: No player will be able to skirt under the radar.

A pair of higher handicaps playing with more strokes will put pressure on the lower handicaps to play well, and for the high handicaps, it ensures they’re contributing on every hole. It’s a recipe for a fun, high-intensity matches.

3. High and low handicaps together

Ashley Mayo (3.1 handicap): I always prefer playing without giving/taking strokes, so I think it’s best to match the lowest handicapper with the highest handicapper, then pair the remaining two together.

4. Toss up balls

Josh Sens (2.5 handicap):  Toss up balls. The two that land closest to each other are partners. No need to complicate this one. Though, having said that, if you have two serious sticks and two absolute chops, it probably makes sense to split up the teams that way, with a strong and weak player on each side.

5. Pick at random

Zephyr Melton (6.7 handicap): Draw two balls out of a hat. A simple, but effective way to pick teams with no hurt feelings.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.