What is Four Ball in Golf? Rules & How to Play in 2024

by | Last updated May 16, 2024

Ever get bored just playing golf by yourself?

I wish there were a way to make it more fun with a friend. Playing the same way every time can get old and boring, right?

Check out four-ball golf (also called best ball)! It’s all about teamwork. You both hit your ball, but only the best score on each hole counts for your team.

It’s a blast!

  • Teamwork: It’s a two-person team format.
  • Your Ball: Each golfer plays their ball the whole way through.
  • Best Score Wins: Only the lower match score between you and your partner counts on each hole.
  • Types of Play: You can play stroke play (total score at the end) or match play (winning individual holes).
  • Perfect for All: Handicaps make it fair for players of different skill levels to play together.
  • Strategy Matters: Talk to your partner about who’ll play aggressively and who’ll play it safe.
  • Stay Positive: Four-ball is all about having fun, so cheer each other on!

Breaking Down the Basics of Four-Ball

Four-ball golf is a team format where you and a partner each play your own ball, but only the lower score on each hole counts towards your team’s score.

Basic of golf

What exactly is four-ball golf?

Picture this: It’s you and your buddy against the golf course.

In four-ball, you each get your own golf ball and take turns playing. The twist? After each hole, only one score counts – the lowest score from your team!

That becomes your team score for that hole. It’s also known as “better ball” because you’re always trying to get the best score possible.

Types of Play: Stroke Play vs. Match Play

  • Stroke Play: Every single shot matters! At the end of the round, the team with the lowest total strokes wins.
  • Match Play: It’s a hole-by-hole competition. If your team has a lower score on a hole than your opponents, you win that hole. The team who wins the most holes wins the match!

Why Is This Great?

In four-ball, it’s okay if one of you messes up a shot.

Your partner’s got your back! This is what makes it such a fun team-play format. Even if you’re new to golf, you can still contribute to your team’s success.

It takes the pressure off a bit!

Rules of Four-Ball: What You Need to Know

Group of golf players

Think of four-ball such a rule like the guidelines for any game, making sure everything is fair and fun.

Here are the important ones:

  • Play Your Ball: Each player on the team plays their ball throughout the whole course.
  • Handicaps: If you and your partner have different skill levels, handicaps can help level the playing field, making it more competitive.
  • What if Nobody Makes the Hole? No worries! In stroke play, you’ll record a high score for that hole. In match play, the hole is tied.
  • Oops, Wrong Ball: If you accidentally hit your partner’s ball, you’ll be penalized. Stick to your ball!
  • Lost Balls & Out of Bounds: If this happens, there are rules about how to take a drop and keep playing without hurting your team’s score too much.

Extra Things to Remember

  • Good Sportsmanship: Always be respectful of your opponents and follow proper golf etiquette.
  • Double-Checking Scores: You usually keep your partner’s score, so be careful not to mess it up on the scorecard!

Pro-Tip: Famous events like the Presidents Cup use the four-ball format. Now you’ll understand how it works when you watch!

Guideline to Play Four-Ball

Golf club and ball on the field

Now that you get the basics.

Let’s go through how a four-ball match actually plays out:

1. Teeing Off

  • Decide who on your team goes first. There’s no hard rule, but sometimes the player with the longer drive might go first to get a good start.

2. Playing the Hole

  • You each keep hitting your ball until you hole out.
  • Talk with your partner! Maybe one of you is in a great position, and the other can take a riskier shot to get even closer to the hole.
  • Don’t stress if you hit a bad shot – your partner might hit a great one to make up for it!

3. Finishing the Hole

  • when neither partner holes out, the other partner picks up their ball (they don’t have to finish).
  • Remember the lower score on the hole – that’s what you record for your team!

That’s how it works for each hole on the course.

It’s a lot of fun seeing how well you and your partner can work together!

Making the Most of Four-Ball: Tips & Strategies

Golf Training

Four-ball’s about more than the rules;

Here’s how to boost your teamwork and have the best time:

  • The Perfect Partner: Choose someone with a similar skill level or whose style complements yours. Maybe one of you is great at putting, and the other hit long drives!
  • Talk It Out: Before the game, decide if one player playing will be a bit more cautious while the other takes risks. Chat about which shots to take on the course.
  • Stay Positive: Golf can be tough! Focus on cheering your partner on and celebrating the good shots.

Bonus Strategy

  • Handicaps in Action: If your team has mixed abilities, handicaps keep things fair. This means that even a less experienced player can have a big impact on four-ball.

Why You Should Try Four Ball Golf

Here’s the deal: four-ball golf is a total blast, and here’s why you should give it a go:

  • Friends Forever: Nothing beats playing golf with your buddies, and four-ball makes it a team effort for double the fun.
  • Everyone’s Welcome: Handicaps allow players of all levels to play together, and there is less pressure than playing alone.
  • Speed it Up: With two players hitting from each spot, four-ball can make a round of golf go way faster.
  • Become a Better Golfer: Trying out different strategies with your partner can even help you improve your golf game!

Would you be ready to give it a try? Grab a friend and get out there!


Four ball in golf

So, now you know all about four-ball golf!

It’s a fantastic way to mix up your usual golf routine and have a blast with a partner. Whether you’re playing for fun or serious competition, remember that teamwork is the name of the game.

Would you be ready to try it out?

Grab a friend, hit those balls, and see how low you can score as a team!

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my partner and I both miss a putt in four-ball?

In four-ball stroke play, you’ll record a higher score for that hole. In four-ball match play, the hole is tied (“halved”), and you move on!

Can we use different tees in four-ball?

Yes! Players can choose their own tee boxes. This is great for handicap match stroke play, where players of different abilities can compete fairly.

Do handicaps matter in four-ball?

Absolutely! Handicaps are used to adjust scores in a four-ball format, ensuring fair matches between teams with players of varying skill levels. The ball golf format is one of the most famous golf courses.

Can I help my partner line up their putts in four-ball?

Yes! In four-ball, you’re treated as one player. This means you’re allowed to help your partner with things like reading putts and even cleaning their golf ball.

What’s the difference between four-ball and foursomes?

In a four-ball, each player on a two-person team plays their ball through the hole. In foursomes, partners share one ball, taking turns hitting it.