How To Play The Flags Golf Game (Tombstone)

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Flags, also known as Tombstone, is a unique golf game that most golfers have never even heard of. In this complete Flags golf game guide, we’ll go over:

  • How to play Flags/Tombstone and key rules you should know.
  • Tips and strategies to win at the Flags golf game.
  • Reasons you should try this golf format the next time you are out on the course.

If you have played Tombstone before, let us know below!

After this guide, check out other popular golf game formats, including Match PlayTexas ScrambleWolfNassauBingo Bango Bongo, or Peoria System, and Best Ball.

What is Flags (Also Known as Tombstone)

The Flags Game is a format in which each golfer begins the round with a predetermined number of strokes and continues playing until they run out. The objective is to complete as many holes as possible within the allotted strokes.

The game offers a unique challenge as players must carefully strategize their shots to conserve strokes while aiming for the flagsticks. It requires a balance of skill, accuracy, and decision-making.

Golfers need to assess when to take risks and aim for flagsticks to maximize scoring opportunities and when to opt for a more conservative target to avoid unnecessary mistakes.

The game emphasizes the importance of mental focus and a mindset focused on accumulating good shots rather than avoiding bad ones, similar to the approach taken by professional golfers.

how to play the flags golf game tombstone

The Origins of Flags

The origin of the Flags or Tombstone golf format is unclear. No specific information is available about this format’s exact origin or history.

It is possible that golfers created the format as a variation of the traditional stroke play format to add an element of strategy and challenge to the game.

The name “Tombstone” may have been chosen because players plant a “tombstone” at the location of their ball when they run out of strokes. Despite lacking historical information, the Tombstone format has become a fun and competitive game.

The Unique Appeal of Flags

The Flags or Tombstone golf format offers a unique appeal due to its combination of strategy, competition, and fun.

In the Flags format, golfers have limited strokes to complete the course and must strategically decide when to use them. This adds an element of challenge and decision-making to the game.

The format also allows players of different skill levels to compete against each other by using handicaps. Additionally, the excitement of staking a flag and seeing how far it can go creates a sense of accomplishment and friendly rivalry among participants.

How is the Flags Game Played?

The Rules of Flags

The rules of the Flags golf format are pretty simple. Before starting the round, calculate the number of strokes allotted to you. This is usually done by taking your playing handicap and adding it to the par of the golf course you are playing.

For example, if you have a 13 handicap and the par of the golf course is 72, you would get 85 strokes for your round.

Each shot you take on the course removes a stroke from your total. The person or team who gets the furthest on the golf course with the most strokes left will be the winner.

The Role of Handicaps in Flags

A golfer’s handicap plays a crucial role in determining the stroke allotment for each player in the game. They also help to level the playing field between golfers of various skill levels.

If you are using full handicaps, you would add the player’s handicap to the course’s par, and that is how many strokes they receive for the round. Some golfers may reach the end of 18 holes with strokes left, and in this case, you would go back to hole one and keep playing.

Some tournament organizers may use partial handicaps if they don’t want multiple players with strokes left at the end. This means taking a partial of that player’s handicap, adding it to the course’s par, and using that number instead.

Tips and Strategies

Managing Your Shots

Managing your shots in the Flags golf format is crucial for success in the game. By strategically deciding when to use your limited number of strokes, you can maximize your chances of completing the course within the allotted strokes and achieving a favorable outcome.

Importance of Consistency

Hitting consistent shots is very important during the golf Flags game. You want to minimize high-stroke holes and play a consistent game to get the furthest on the golf course.

The last man standing at the end will win, and being consistent on the golf course is a great way to ensure this happens. This game also ensures you rely solely on your golf skills.

Knowing When To Take Risks

Knowing when to take risks during a Flags or Tombstone golf game is crucial for maximizing your chances of success. By strategically assessing the situation and weighing the potential benefits against the risks involved, players can make informed decisions on when to take calculated risks.

Taking risks can help players gain an advantage by attempting more challenging shots that have the potential for greater rewards. However, it is essential to remember that every risk comes with the possibility of failure, which could result in using up valuable strokes.

Common Mistakes in Playing Flags

Being Too Aggressive

Being too aggressive is a common mistake when playing a Flags or Tombstone golf game because it often leads to unnecessary risks and can result in poor performance.

Golfers may feel pressured to make bold shots or take risky approaches to gain an advantage over their opponents. However, this can lead to inconsistent swings, inaccurate shots, and potential penalties.

By being overly aggressive, golfers may sacrifice their consistency and increase the likelihood of mistakes, ultimately hindering their chances of success.

Poor Course Management

Poor golf course management is another common mistake when playing a Flags or Tombstone golf game. This occurs when players fail to strategically assess the situation and make informed decisions about their shots.

If players do not know how specific holes are laid out, it can lead to poor shot accuracy, putting you in bad spots to score. Studying the course you are playing is crucial to your success.

Making The Most of Your Flags Game

Essential Skills Required

There are no specific skills required for Flags outside of your golf skill. Hitting good, consistent shots will ensure that you move around the course easily. Keeping the golf ball out of hazards will also ensure you don’t take penalty strokes.

Having good knowledge of the course beforehand will help you with where to hit the ball and which holes you can take risks on to get a good score.

Flags Game Etiquette

Managing Pace of Play

The golf course’s are very strict when it comes to the pace of play, as they want to ensure there are no holdups on holes and no unnecessary waiting. When it comes to a Flags Tournament, the course is usually aware of this beforehand, so they know that your round may take slightly longer than average.

Playing efficiently is still a great idea as it keeps the tournament flow moving along, which is what the tournament organizers and golf course want.

Why I Love the Golf Game of Flags (Tombstone)

I love the Flags golf format because it introduces a new way to enjoy golf with friends. As you are given a limited number of strokes, you must decide when the best time to take risks is.

Once you have your last stroke left, you want to ensure your final shot is good to get you ahead. Regular stroke play is fun, but as a golfer, finding new ways to wager against your friends is also fun.

The point of the Flags competition is to get the furthest down the golf course before your strokes run out. Once complete, you stick your flag point into the ground to signify where your last stroke happened.

The flag game is an excellent format played in a tournament or between your friends. We highly recommend trying this format next time on the golf course.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is the Flag or Tombstone determined?

Once you have hit your final stroke, you put your flag into the ground at that spot. The last man standing who makes it the furthest wins.

How is a tie handled in the Golf Flags Game?

If everyone is out of strokes on the same hole, the person closest to the hole would be deemed the winner. Or you continue playing the course again to determine the winner.

What happens if you use up your strokes before the end of the round in Tombstone/Flags?

Place your flag or “tombstone” down where your last stroke occurred and return to the clubhouse.

How do handicaps work in the Flags golf game?

Each golfer’s full handicaps are added to the course’s par, which is the strokes you are allowed for the round.

Can Flags golf be played in teams?

No, it cannot be played in teams, as the stroke allotment is determined based on the individual’s handicap.

Ryan William
Ryan William

With over 25 years hands-on experience in the golfing world, Ryan is not just an avid golfer but a topical authority. His journey has had him delve deep into the nuances of the sport, from mastering the swing to understanding new golf technology. As an entrepreneur, Ryan is at the forefront of the latest golf trends, reviewing all new clubs, accessories, and training aids. His insights and expertise are backed by a prolific writing career, with over 1000 articles published across various platforms. Ryan's commitment is clear: to guide and inform the golf community with unparalleled knowledge and passion.

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