What Are Flights In Golf?

If you’re starting to develop an interest in golf as a professional sport, you will notice there are a lot of terms you might not be familiar with, especially when it comes to golf competitions. So, if you were wondering what are flights in golf, you’ve come to the right place.

Flights are a term used in golf to mark a group of a strict minimum of seven players in a golf tournament. Players are divided into flights based on any number of factors – their handicap, age, recent score, and so on. Players only compete against other players in their flight, and the number of flights is determined by the overall number of players in a tournament.

A man playing golf
People can compete in golf tournaments in flights

What Are Flights In Golf Tournaments and Competitions?

If you’ve ever been interested in more than driving your golf cart around and playing for fun, you probably thought about becoming a pro golfer and participating in competitions and golf tournaments. In that case, you need to learn what flights in golf tournaments mean.

Flights are a special grouping of golf players in a tournament or a competition. A flight, or a division, is a group of golfers that have roughly the same proficiency, and they can compete against each other. Participants in tournaments can compete against each other only within the flight they have been assigned to. In other words, players aren’t competing against all players on the golf course, but only the ones in their own flights. This practice results in multiple tournament winners. There can be one winner for each flight – just think of it as multiple smaller competitions within a larger tournament.

Do Flights Exist In All Kinds of Golf Tournaments?

There are many golf tournaments that choose to organize through flighting, and those tournaments are called flightened tournaments. The tournaments that usually decide on flights are competitions of a smaller caliber, such as local tournaments, city championships, association tournaments, and club member tournaments. Tournaments that involve pro golfers never use the method of flighting, and neither do amateur competitions such as USGA or R&A. However, the only people who make the final decision are the event organizers.

Why Do Tournament Organizers Choose to Divide Players Into Flights?

There are many benefits of the method of flighting. The biggest advantage of splitting competitors into flights is that it attracts and allows more people to compete. In flights, people of similar abilities will be faced against each other, and that way, everyone gets a fair chance to win. However, in competitions where there are no flights, everyone competes against everyone, and the player with the lowest scores and worst skills doesn’t stand a chance against the other, stronger golf players.

How Do You Create and Form a Flight?

For starters, you need to understand that tournament organizers – the committee, call all the shots. They are the ones that make all the decisions about flightening the tournament and decide if there will be any flights and how many there will be. They are also the people that determine the criteria by which the players will be separated into groupings.

The committee can decide on whatever criteria they want as long as it puts the players in roughly equal positions based on their golf skills and abilities. There can be as many flights formed as needed as long as each one of them has a minimum of seven golf players. The flights are usually categorized alphabetically (A flight, B flight, C flight, and so on) or by ordinal names (first flight, second flight, third flight, and so on). They can also be named after the organizers themselves or after colors, days, or whatever the committee finds charming at the moment. When it comes to criteria, players usually get divided into flights based on:

  • Their handicap or scores,
  • Their gender,
  • Their age.

Flights Based On the Player’s Handicap

One of the most common criteria used to separate players into flights is their handicap. The committee will look into the player’s handicap index or their course handicap. If they don’t have either one of those, their recent average scores will be taken into consideration. Then, the tournament organizers will determine the handicap ranges that will be used as criteria for separating players into flights.

The lowest handicap range is meant for the championship flight. The second-best-rated handicap range creates the first flight (A flight,) the next lower range creates the second flight (B flight,) and so on. The number of competitors determines the number of flights that will be formed – there can be as many as ten or twelve of them. Here is an example of how flights can be organized based on handicap ranges.

The flightChampionshipFirstSecondThirdFourth
Handicap range0-56-1112-1819-2627+

Flights Based On the Player’s Gender or Age

Other popular criteria used to separate golf players into flights are by gender or by age. This is usually used in amateur tournaments, both junior and senior ones. When it comes to junior tournaments, they can get divided into girl’s and boy’s competitions, or they can stay mixed. At the same time, they can also be divided by the age of the competitors.

For example, a junior tournament can be split into the boy’s A flight (8-10 years,) the boy’s B flight (11-13 years,) and the boy’s C flight (14-16 years,) and the girl’s A flight (7-9 years,) the girl’s B flight (10-13 years,) and the girl’s C flight (14-16 years). The senior tournaments are almost always divided into flights by age, but they are rarely divided by gender. The most common way of separating senior players into flights is by dividing them into four flights, for example:

  • The first flight: 50-55 years,
  • The second flight: 56-60 years,
  • The third flight: 61-65 years,
  • The fourth flight: 66-70 years.

Flights Are an Excellent Way of Motivating People to Compete and Make Progress

Tournament organizers have come to the conclusion that flights are an excellent way to attract people to spend some time on the golf course and compete in golf tournaments. They give golfers of all proficiency a chance at a fair competition with players who have roughly the same level of golf skills and abilities.