What is Four Ball in Golf?

by | Last updated Mar 11, 2024

what is four ball in golf

Four Ball in golf represents a fascinating and strategic sport, blending individual skill with team collaboration. This format, prevalent in amateur and professional realms, offers players a unique challenge beyond the traditional solo play, emphasizing the importance of partnership and strategy. But what is Four Ball in golf, and how does it differ from other formats?

The Basics of Four Ball Golf

Four Ball is a golf format where players play their Ball throughout the round, but on each hole, the lower of the two scores from teammates is counted as the team’s score. This method of play highlights the term “best ball,” as only the best score—hence the lowest—contributes to the match score. Originating from the rich traditions of golf, Four-Ball has evolved to become a staple in competitive and recreational play.

Basic of golf

Rules and Gameplay

Understanding the rules is critical to mastering Four Balls. Players compete in teams of two, each hitting their own golf ball. The heart of the Four-Ball golf format is that only the lower score—or the “best ball”—of the two partners on each hole is recorded as the team score. This rule underscores the essence of the format, which is about combining individual efforts for the best team outcome.

In match play, the team with the lower score wins the hole, while in stroke play format, the cumulative score across all holes determines the winner. Handicap match stroke play adjustments allow players of varying abilities to compete on a level field, further illustrating the inclusive nature of Four-Ball.

Strategies for Success

Strategic play in Four-Ball goes beyond mere golfing ability. Selecting a partner whose skills complement your own can make a significant difference. Key strategies include:

  • Understanding each other’s playing style.
  • Managing the course intelligently.
  • Maintaining effective communication to decide when to play conservatively or aggressively.

Success in Four-Ball often hinges on playing as a cohesive unit rather than two individual golfers.

Four Ball in Tournaments

Four Ball is prominent in golf tournaments worldwide, including prestigious events like the Ryder and Presidents Cup. These tournaments have been the stage for some of the most memorable moments in golf, showcasing the strategic depth and partnership dynamics unique to the Four-Ball format.

Group of golf players

Equipment and Gear

In Four Balls, the choice of equipment can be tailored to the player’s role within the team. While each golfer plays their own Ball, selecting equipment that enhances personal strengths and compensates for weaknesses can contribute to the team’s overall performance. This includes the selection of clubs, balls, and gear that can aid in strategy and communication on the course.

Training and Preparation

Preparation for the Four-Ball competition involves both physical and mental training. Practicing specific shots and strategies that maximize team strengths is crucial. Equally important is mental preparation, including developing the resilience to support a partner during challenging moments and the strategic thinking needed for Four-Ball play.

Golf Training

The Social Aspect of Four-Ball

Four Ball golf is not just a competitive format but also a social one, fostering camaraderie and networking opportunities. Joining leagues or groups dedicated to Four-Ball play can enhance the game’s enjoyment, allowing players to connect with others who share their passion for this unique format.

The Future of Four-Ball

The future of Four-Ball looks bright, with technological advancements and a growing appreciation for team formats in golf. As the game continues to evolve, Four-Ball remains a testament to the sport’s enduring appeal and the rich strategies it entails.


Four Ball in Golf offers a compelling blend of individual skill and team strategy, making it a beloved format among players worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or new to the game, the challenge and camaraderie of Four-Ball provide a unique way to enjoy the sport and develop your skills alongside a partner.

Four ball in golf


  • Glossary of Terms: Understand the key terms used in Four Ball golf.
  • Additional Resources: Explore links to Four Ball leagues, tutorials, and communities.
  • Directory of Courses: Find golf courses known for hosting Four-Ball matches and tournaments.

Four Ball golf encapsulates the spirit of golf—individual excellence and teamwork, strategy and skill, competition, and camaraderie. Whether participating in a local league or watching the drama unfold in international tournaments, Four-Ball is a format that enriches the golfing experience for players and spectators alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Four Ball in Golf?

Four Ball in golf is a pair-playing format where players play their Ball throughout the round. The team’s score for each hole is lower than the partners’ two scores. This format can be played as a match or stroke, emphasizing the team’s performance through the best individual score per hole.

How Does Scoring Work in Four-Ball Match Play?

In a four-ball match, the score that counts for each hole is the lowest score shot by one of the partners. This means if one player scores a four and their partner scores a 5, the score recorded is 4. The team with the lower point wins the hole, and the number of holes determines the match score won.

What Happens When Neither Partner Holes Their Ball?

When neither partner holes their Ball, the hole is considered incomplete, and the team does not earn a score for that hole. In match play, this typically results in the loss of the hole unless the opposing team also fails to hole out. In stroke play, it fails to record a score for that hole, significantly impacting the team’s gross score.

Are There Any Special Rules for Playing the Partner’s Ball?

In the four-ball format, players cannot play their partner’s Ball on the same hole during play. Each player must play their Ball from tee to green. No such rule allows a player to switch to playing their partner’s Ball at any point during the play of a hole.

Can both scores from a team count Toward the match score?

No, only one score from the two partners determines the team’s score on each hole in Four-Ball golf. This is the lower score between the two players. Having both scores count would deviate from the traditional Four-Ball format, where the emphasis is on the best single score representing the team’s performance on each hole.

Fahim Joharder

Fahim Joharder


An avid golfer and author, merges his passion for the sport with insightful writing, offering readers a unique perspective on golf.

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