Olympic golf format

Golf at the Olympic Games utilizes an individual stroke play format similar to events on the PGA and LPGA Tours, as well as at all major championships. Players are ranked according to their score relative to par, and the winner is the player who records the fewest amount of total strokes to complete 72 holes of golf.

How many rounds of golf are played at the Olympics?

Both the men's and women's golf tournaments at the Olympics are comprised of four 18-hole rounds each. At the 2024 Paris Olympics, the men's tournament will take place from Thursday, August 1, to Sunday, August 4. The women's tournament will follow beginning on Wednesday, August 7 and concluding on Saturday, August 10.

Is there a cut in Olympic golf?

Unlike events on the PGA and LPGA tours, golf at the Olympic Games does not include a cut after 36 holes. All 60 players in both the men's and women's fields progress to the final two rounds.

Breaking ties

In the event of two or more players finishing atop the leaderboard with the same score after four rounds, those players will play an additional "playoff" hole to break the tie. If after the first playoff hole two or more players remain tied, a second playoff hole will be contested, and so-on, until a champion is crowned. 

Unique to golf at the Olympics, however, is that ties must be broken not just to determine a winner, but also - if necessary - to determine the silver and/or bronze medalists. If player X finishes in the gold-medal position with a score of -12, but players Y and Z finish tied for 2nd at -11, players Y and Z will compete in a playoff to determine who takes silver and who takes bronze.

Common rules of golf

Several basic rules govern the game of golf at all levels, from recreational games to major championships. The Olympics is no different.

  • Players begin each hole from the tee box. For this shot, and only this shot, players may elevate the ball off the ground using a plastic or wooden tee.
  • For subsequent shots, the ball must be played as it lies on the course. Once the player's ball reaches the putting surface (AKA the green) he/she is free to mark, pick up, clean and replace the ball.
  • Each time the player advances the ball toward the hole using a club is recorded as one stroke. Players may only use their clubs to contact the ball.
  • If a shot results in the ball going out of bounds, landing in a water hazard or being otherwise unplayable, the player incurs a penalty. 
  • Players may carry a maximum of 14 golf clubs in their bag during a round. Clubs can be swapped out during a tournament, but only between rounds.
  • A caddie may accompany a player on the course, carry the player's clubs and assist with strategy, yardage, reading of greens and club selection.
  • Players play alongside each other in pairings or groupings, and tee off in order according to how the players finished the previous hole. Following the tee shots, the player farthest away from the hole hits first at all times.