Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Brad:

I've looked all over the web for a solution to this (including searching the archives here) to no avail.

We're doing a golf tournament with twelve people. Each person has a "handicap" that demonstrates their skill level. We have these numbers for each of the 12 players. We are trying to figure out how to schedule two rounds of golf with the most balance possible.

- We are playing two "real" rounds of golf (18 holes). There are four people per group.
- We want to split each round into two 9 hole games, which gives us a total of 4 games
- Halfway through (after 9 holes), you switch partners within the foursome that you're playing in.
- We want everyone to play with 4 unique different teammates

So say you start the first 18 hole round as a group of Players 1, 2, 3, and 4. Players 1 and 2 are a team, and players 3 and 4 are a team. After 9 holes, Player 1 would either be paired up with Player 3 or 4, and the other two players would pair up as well. Then the next day we will mix up the foursomes and do the same thing.

In terms of just pure scheduling this is simple. But I'm trying to figure out how to best balance the handicaps (simple average of each team's two handicaps works here). Assuming I'll need some sort of program or spreadsheet.

Any help or even a push in the right direction would be a tremendous help. Thanks in advance to anyone who wants to give this a shot.


The bad news is that what you want isn't possible. On the first day there are three foursomes. On the second day, in each foursome, some two will have played together on the first day. The good news is that they did not need to be partners on the first day. There are 6 possible pairings in a foursome, and you are using four of them on a given day.

Won't the handicaps (if honest) sort out the scoring? My suggestion is to make a schedule to get the pairings as good as possible, and then assign numbers to the players at random. If you don't like the assignment, do it a few times and choose the best one.


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