What Are Flights In Golf Tournaments? Exploring The Meaning & Benefits

Have you ever wondered what competing in a golf tournament is like? The answer may be more complicated than you think! Believe it or not, many tournaments are divided into various flights where players are grouped according to their skill level.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what are flights in golf tournaments and why they exist. We’ll also touch on the benefits of playing in flighted events and how organizers decide which players get put into each one. Read on to learn all about flights in golf tournaments!


What Are Flights in Golf Tournaments? 

Flights are essentially divisions or groups within a competition, organized according to each player’s handicap, which works to level the playing field among participants.

By categorizing competitors into specific flights, tournament organizers ensure that golfers compete against others with comparable skills and abilities, making the event more balanced and enjoyable for everyone involved.

This equitable approach encourages healthy competition and motivates amateur golfers to refine their skills and strive for excellence in their respective flights. Ultimately, including flights in golf tournaments epitomizes the sport’s flair for sportsmanship and inclusivity while maintaining its competitive spirit.


What Are The Benefits of Using Flights in a Golf Tournament?

Flights In Golf Tournaments
Source: Andrew Shelley

Implementing flighting in golf tournaments represents a remarkable shift in leveling the playing field for avid golfers of varying skill sets. The primary advantage lies in genuinely enabling a broad array of players to vie for a gross championship title. By categorizing participants into separate flights based on their skill level, it allows golfers to compete with others on a more equitable basis.

For instance, a tournament may seem unattainable for a 15-handicapper when pitted against scratch golfers. But when positioned in a 10-15 handicap flight, their prospects of victory become significantly more attainable. Additionally, utilizing flights in tournament organization prompts the celebration of gross champions within each flight and the overall net score winner.

Some events even take it further by acknowledging the gross and net winners within each flight, thus fostering a more inclusive and competitive environment for all golfers.


How To Determine The Flights in Golf?

One of the most prevalent and efficient methods to achieve this is by flighting the tournament based on handicap index or course handicap.

This approach involves categorizing golfers into separate flights, which are either numerically ordered or labeled alphabetically and occasionally even customized with unique names inspired by cities or states. For instance, the flights may be designated as Flight #1, Flight #2, or Flight A, Flight B, Flight C, etc.

When allocating players to flights, placing the top golfers – or those with the best abilities in the tournament – into the A or #1 flight is common practice. The remaining flights are then populated considering the overall number of flights chosen and the tournament participants.


How Many Flights Are in a Tournament or Competition?

When organizing a golf tournament, several factors come into play when determining the number of flights to include. Factors such as the size of the playing field, the number of participants, variations in players’ handicaps, and the availability of winning spots all play crucial roles in making this decision. 

Although there is no universally accepted standard for the number of flights, it generally falls within a range of 2 to 7, with the most common scenario involving four flights, designated as A, B, C, and D. In such a structure, each flight would encompass a specific handicap index range, for example:

  • Flight A accommodates players with handicaps between 0 and 8.
  • Flight B ranges from 9 to 14.
  • Flight C includes handicaps of 15 to 20.
  • Flight D covers those with a handicap index of 21 and above. 

This careful consideration and organization of flights promote a balanced and exciting tournament experience for golfers of all skill levels.


Other Factors To Determine Flights

Flighting tournaments by age offers a practical and accommodating approach to creating a level playing field in junior and senior amateur events. In such tournaments, players of various age groups, such as Boys 9-10 or Girls 11-12, are grouped to compete against others of similar age, ensuring a balanced and inclusive competition.

The same principle is applied to senior tournaments, where participants are grouped in categories such as A flight (Ages 50-54) or B flight (Ages 55-59), among others.

This age-oriented structure delivers an equitable opportunity for each player to showcase their talents and skills against their peers. Moreover, these tournaments can further enhance competitiveness by introducing skill-based flights in conjunction with age categories – for instance, Boys 10-12 Championship and Boys 10-12 First Flight, and so forth.


Do Professional Golf Tournaments Use Flights?

Flights In Golf Tournaments
Source: golfclubszene

The tournament structure significantly differs from amateur and casual play.

While flighting is usually observed in local contests like club championships, city tournaments, and association competitions, professional golf tournaments adopt a distinct format. Instead of implementing flights, these high-profile events maintain stringent entry requirements, typically based on world rankings or past performances.

Only the most elite and accomplished golfers can compete in each event. In doing so, professional golf tournaments create an arena where the finest players can showcase their abilities against one another without the need to divide them into separate flights. The result is an exquisite demonstration of top-tier athleticism and sportsmanship.



Flights in golf tournaments are divisions of players grouped based on their playing ability and handicap to ensure that the tournament is fair and competitive. The organization of tournament play into flights also allows novice players to find success and encourages higher-skilled players to continue competing.

We hope this article has helped you understand what flights in golf tournaments are and how they work. Thanks so much for reading, and we invite you to explore other articles on our blog for more tips and strategies!




  • Alvin Daniel

    Hello everyone, I'm Alvin Daniel. I was born in the Philippines and came to the United States when I was 16 years old. I started playing golf at that age and have loved it ever since. I turned professional when I was 21 and have been working as a golf instructor and guide ever since. My goal is to help everyone know more about this great game of golf. And, hopefully, through my instruction, they can improve their skills and enjoy the game even more.

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