Pin Golf Options?

Last year we ran our first Pin Golf tournament and everyone that played in it enjoyed the format change from the standard match play we usually run. We will probably be running these a few times a year just to mix things up but one thing I don’t like about the format is that you play the entire course with the same 4 players (unless I’m doing something wrong). Is there any other way to run this format where people can be mixed up throughout the day?

It is doable, but the math is messy and depends on both the exact number of players and games. For a small example, if you had 12 people and 3 games, pairing them thus:

R1G1 1-2-3-4
R1G2 5-6-7-8
R1G3 9-10-11-12
R2G1 5-6-11-12
R2G2 3-4-9-10
R2G3 1-2-7-8
R3G1 7-8-9-10
R3G2 1-2-11-12
R3G3 3-4-5-6

In this example, you have players in pairs; half skip ahead 1 machine each round, half skip ahead 2 machines. You could work something out for other numbers; maybe someone has posted this online somewhere? It’s a combinatorics thing.

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Yes. And it’s quite simple, but requires more management/coordination of the event, and will likely take longer for the event to complete:

  • Assuming you have max Total # of players equal to 4x the number of pin/holes, enabling a shotgun start.
  • Divide your # of holes into equal Banks. So if 9 holes, then can only divide by three to get 3 Banks of pins.
  • Assign people into 4-player groups, and each group to a Set of 3 groups.
  • Instead of playing all 9 holes with your group, you only play three holes together. Each Set does a shotgun start on a Bank of 3 pins, A, B, and C. Group 1 on A, Group 2 on B, and Group 3 on C. Group 3 wraps around to pin/hole A for game #2.
  • After all 3 Sets are finished will all 3 of their games, then each Set of groups (12 players per Set) moves onto a different Bank, and you shuffle the groups within their Set each time a Set moves to a new bank.

A few years back I made a post on the “Social Golfer” problem and how it might apply to seeds in Finals:

Your ask seems like a classic “Social Golfer” problem, but with the added complexity that you need to make sure each person plays each hole once (no repeats) but does allow flexibility in that you could be paired up with someone more than once and that’s OK.

How many people and machines are you looking to have? How many holes? If we know that, we could think of a schedule like the examples Bob and Colin gave that allows people to:

  • Play each machine once
  • Rotate playing partners

When are you planning a PinGolf event?

I can then see about making a Google Sheet that would allow you to plop in Players and Machines, and then it can have “cards” you can print out for each person so they know their schedule.


4/17 will be the PinGolf event. Capped at 28 players. Current social distancing requires us to only allow 16 people in the basement at a time. Number of holes at the last PinGolf event was 12. I believe it would be the same this time around.

I had a chat with Chad tonight to get more details around the event:

There will be twelve holes and 28 players; max of 16 players allowed in the basement at once.

Keying off of Colin and Bob’s ideas, if you group the twelve machines into three-machine groups, you have four banks. 16 players divides into the 4 banks nicely, and you can shuffle among the groups between banks.

Since the goal is to make sure each player gets each bank once, you end up partnering with some people twice, but you should still have 10 or 11 unique partners. There may also be a better way to optimize than what I brute-forced in Google Sheets, but I’ll do some homework on combinatorics over the weekend.

You could do a group a 16 and make a different grid for a group of 12, or break it up into 14 each and have some groups be three-person.


For our PinGolf, we do 18 holes, first 9 is with a kind of random group. A ranked, B Ranked, then 2 random others to keep play evened out. Then the next 9 is in order position based on 9 Hole score 1-4 play together 5-8 play together, etc… We also do a break in play for 1 hour between each 9 holes and do a pizza party everyone seems to like the format when we do it. Then playoffs the next day. This does limit us to 36 players doing it this way but it seems to work, and with social distancing requirements we could not play side by side anyway, hopefully to change in future times we run to get more players involved.