LIV’s efforts aside, two-player alternate shot remains the height of team golf for me. We so rarely get to see it at the highest levels of the game; some international competitions that include eight-ten matches in the format once per year, and then one-off events like the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Best ball doesn’t do very much for me in a stroke-play setting; at the Ryder Cup it’s team match play, which adds an entirely new layer, but the Zurich only sees two days of alternate shot, and those are the days really worth watching.

That included Sunday, as we got to see final groups facing down not just the pressure of how to play their own game, but pressure to not let their partner down or put them in a tough spot. Going out earlier was a big advantage for the duo of Martin Trainer and Chad Ramey, who posted an impressive 63 and then had to sit around all day as the final groups struggled with rising winds and increasing weight of competition. In the end that layoff proved to be a factor, as Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy were able to roll from the end of their round to the playoff hole, where Ramey and Trainer made a very sloppy bogey to lose. But watching just made me want to find a way to play more alternate shot. I’ve done it before in various buddy competitions or occasionally just to breeze through a bonus nine with a friend, but it’s very rare. Inevitably I remember those rounds more; it’s a truly different way to play, and working in sync with someone else opens up entirely new elements of the game, even down to just hitting shots from places you wouldn’t normally hit from. 

I know why Americans don’t play it very much; you don’t get discounted greens fees for playing half the shots. You don’t get to save a ton of time in most settings, especially on a crowded day on the course. But in an ideal world, it should be a much bigger part of the sport, both for amateurs hacking around and at the highest levels of competition.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.