What is a Best Ball Format in Golf

Best ball format, also known as four-ball, is a popular format in golf that is played in teams of two. In this format, each player plays their own ball throughout the round, but only the lowest score among the two teammates on each hole is counted towards the team’s overall score.

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For example, if player A scores a four on a hole and player B scores a five, the team’s score for that hole is four. If both players score the same number of strokes, then the team’s score is simply that number. The team with the lowest score at the end of the round is the winner.

Best ball format is often used in team competitions, such as Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, where players from different countries or regions compete against each other. It is also a popular format in charity tournaments and corporate events.

One of the advantages of best ball format is that it allows players of different skill levels to compete together as a team. For example, a beginner golfer can play with an experienced golfer, and the experienced player’s low score on each hole can help balance out the beginner’s higher score. This can create a more enjoyable and inclusive experience for all players involved.

Cool Variations You Can Try:

In addition to the standard best ball format, there are several variations that can be played, including:

  1. Better ball: In this format, each player plays their own ball throughout the round, but the team’s score is determined by the better score between the two players on each hole.
  2. Four-ball stroke play: This format is similar to the standard best ball, but it is played over multiple rounds, and the team’s score is the total of both players’ scores for all rounds.
  3. Modified best ball: This format allows each player to take their own ball on certain holes, while playing best ball on others. This can add some variety and strategy to the game.

Best ball format is often used in casual games, such as weekend foursomes, and it can also be used in serious competition. For example, the USGA and R&A have recently introduced a new international amateur competition called the World Amateur Team Championship, which uses the best ball format.

Overall, the best ball format is a great way to enjoy the game of golf with friends, family, or colleagues, and it can provide a fun and challenging way to compete. It is a versatile format that can be adapted to different skill levels and playing styles, and it is an enjoyable way to experience the camaraderie and teamwork that golf can offer.

Pros and Cons:

One of the advantages of playing best ball format in golf is that it can speed up play, compared to other formats where each player has to complete every hole individually. With best ball, players only need to keep track of one score per hole, which can reduce the amount of time spent on each shot and speed up the pace of play.

Another advantage of best ball is that it can help to level the playing field between teams with different skill levels. In a traditional stroke play competition, a team with one highly skilled player might have an advantage over a team with two less skilled players. However, in best ball format, the lower score of the two teammates is the only one that counts, which can help to balance out any skill differences between teammates.

One potential disadvantage of best ball format is that it can be more difficult to build momentum or recover from mistakes compared to other formats. In best ball, if one player has a bad hole, the team’s score will reflect that, even if the other player played well. This can make it harder for teams to recover from a bad start or build momentum throughout the round.

Overall, best ball format is a fun and engaging way to play golf, and it can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. Whether you’re playing in a casual weekend foursome or a serious competition, best ball offers a unique and enjoyable experience that emphasizes teamwork and camaraderie.

Best Ball Format Rules

Team CompositionTeams of two or more players
ScoringThe lowest score of each team member is recorded
Winning CriteriaThe team with the lowest combined score wins
HandicapHandicap is calculated based on the players’ individual handicaps

Types of Best Ball Format

FourballEach player plays their own ball, and the lowest score of each team member is recorded
FoursomesTwo-player teams alternate hitting the same ball, and the lowest score of each team member is recorded
GreensomeBoth players hit their tee shots, and then decide which ball to play for the remainder of the hole, and the lowest score of each team member is recorded

Advantages of Best Ball Format

Team BuildingEncourages teamwork and communication between team members
StrategyAllows for strategic decision making in terms of shot selection
ConsistencyRewards consistent play over the course of a round
FairnessTakes into account individual handicaps to ensure a fair competition

Disadvantages of Best Ball Format

Time ConsumingBest ball format can take longer to play than other formats
Uneven Distribution of EffortOne player may carry the team if their partner is not playing well
Lack of Individual AccomplishmentIndividual accomplishments can be overshadowed by the team’s success
Difficulty in Choosing PartnersChoosing a compatible partner can be challenging

Best Ball Format Variations

Modified StablefordPoints are awarded for scores relative to par, with higher points awarded for better scores
Match PlayPlayers compete against each other on each hole, with the lowest score winning the hole
SkinsEach hole is worth a certain amount of money or points, which are won by the player who wins the hole
Stroke PlayPlayers record their total score for the round, and the player with the lowest total score wins


  • Ray Barnes

    Ray Barnes, our Senior Staff Writer and a Golf Analyst with a PhD in Sports Analytics, is a beacon of insight in the golfing world. With a deep understanding of the sport's nuances, statistical analysis, and a talent for demystifying complexities, he provides in-depth analysis and captivating narratives that engage golf enthusiasts worldwide.

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