What is a Shotgun Start in Golf and How Does it Work on the Course

A shotgun start in golf is when all of the players in a tournament begin to play at the same time, usually after hearing a signal such as a shotgun blast, usually from an air horn. All players tee off at the same time from different holes and then proceed through their respective courses.

The ‘Shotgun Start’

A shotgun start is a way to speed up the pace of play in golf tournaments, and it is often used whenever players are required to compete on multiple courses. It begins with all players gathered together in one place, just before their tee time.

A 'shotgun start' is an exciting concept for golf fans, but it also has a practical purpose. This type of start allows for a large field of golfers to begin and complete a round without obstructing the course.

At the designated time, a signal such as a shotgun blast is given indicating that each group of four should begin to play. All players start from different holes located throughout the tournament course and then progress through their respective groups.

The goal is for all players to finish the round at nearly the same time in order to ensure orderly transitions between courses and make efficient use of available tee times.

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How Does a Shotgun Start Work on the Course?

Grouping based on handicaps

The starting time of the shotgun start format is fixed at one particular time and every group regardless of their size starts playing at the same time. In order to ensure a timely beginning, groups are formed based on the compatibility of handicaps and players’ playing styles.

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Starting holes and Timings

Every group holds a different tee position with different timing. Unlike usual tee times, players in a group rotate tee positions while they move across the course while maintaining their starting sequence. This helps them from getting themselves carried away from the crowd and hushed up by others. It also allows them to stay particular about the timing for each hole. 

The “Move Away” format

In some cases, groups begin their round by moving away simultaneously (directly) from their designated starting point towards the opening hole from where they start the game traditionally. In this format, individuals shuttle between holes without waiting for others in order to remain on pace for completing all 18 holes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Shotgun Start


Shotgun start gives players a group starting time and helps to play the course in less time with a steady course movement option. An exciting atmosphere and a quickly moved round of golf are major benefits associated with choosing this format for playing tournaments or for fun. 


Apart from its benefits, there are certain elements that can give drawbacks to players in defining their choice for a shotgun start. Noise at the starting hour, lack of safety when 4 to 5 teams tee off simultaneously, different levels of speed among groups, and their widespread on the fairway might be some of the reasons why shotgun start is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

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Final Thoughts

In summary, shotgun start is an interesting format for starting a round of golf. The most advantageous reason to opt for this format is that it helps in playing a round quickly and efficiently. Although it has certain drawbacks, most golf players find this form really exciting and engaging to be played. It can certainly boost the game time for all levels of handicaps.

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