What is a Shotgun Start in Golf? Rules Explained

By Chris Moore •  Updated on 02/25/22

In golf, a shotgun start is used to have multiple groups of golfers tee off their rounds on different holes on the course, making it a faster and more efficient way for golfers to finish their rounds.

When is a shotgun start used in golf?

A shotgun start is used commonly in golf tournaments, where there are more than 18 groups teeing off.

Using this format will help each group finish their round at roughly the same time, making it the perfect format for bigger tournaments with a lot of different groups.

Instead of taking hours for all of the groups to tee off, each group can get started simultaneously and finish a whole lot faster!

On top of that, each of the groups will play under the same weather conditions keeping things fair.

How does a shotgun start work?

When the tournament format is a shotgun start, each group will tee off on a different hole so they can start at the same time.

So if there are 18 groups in total, each group will start on a different hole and play the round as if that were hole 1; one group will start on hole 1, another on hole 2, another on hole 3, etc.

Why’s it called a shotgun start?

The term “shotgun start” comes from the fact that a shotgun was originally fired to signal the start of the round, so each group can hear it and tee off.

The first shotgun start was reportedly at Walla Walla Country Club, in Washington, in 1956.

Nowadays, the call to start is more likely to be made via a megaphone or siren.

Shotgun start vs normal start

A normal start has each group tee off on the same hole to start, making sure they all play the same holes in the same order.

A shotgun start has each group tee on a different hole to start, so they don’t play the holes in the same order.

While a normal start is used in professional golf tournaments, using a shotgun start is the best option for all amateur tournaments!

Keeping up with the pace of play

One of the most important things to know when you’re playing in a shotgun start is to keep up the pace of play.

It’s best to have an organized bag so it takes less time to find the club you’re going to want to hit.

Since every hole is occupied throughout the entire round, it takes a group effort to not slow up and hold the group up!

Final thoughts

Shotgun starts are great for golf tournaments where you have a lot of groups going out.

Most scramble format tournaments use it, along with other charity events and smaller tournaments.

It’s not only better for the course and event organizer, the golfers should appreciate the increased pace of play!

So next time you’re looking to create a tournament or play in one, now you know everything you need to know about a shotgun start in golf.

Chris Moore

Hi, I'm Chris Moore and I'm the guy behind As an avid golfer since 2010, I decided to create this blog to share everything I've learned over the years. Whether it's golf equipment, swing tips, or anything in-between, I want to make sure you have everything you need to become a better golfer.