What is Four Ball Golf

Four ball golf, also known as better ball, is a type of golf game where two golfers play as a team, each playing their own ball throughout the round. The team’s score for each hole is determined by taking the lower of the two scores. For example, if one player scores a 4 and the other scores a 5, the team’s score for that hole is 4. If both players score the same number of strokes, the team takes that score as its score for the hole.

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Four ball golf can be played as a match play or stroke play format, and is often used in team events such as the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. In match play , the team with the lowest score on each hole wins the hole, and the team with the most holes won at the end of the round wins the match. In stroke play, the team with the lowest total score for the round wins the competition.

In addition to being used in team events, four ball golf can also be played in casual rounds among friends or as part of a golf league. It can be a fun way to mix up traditional stroke play and add a level of camaraderie to the game.

While four ball golf can be played by golfers of all skill levels, it does require a certain level of coordination and communication between partners in order to be successful. It’s important for players to discuss their strategy before each shot and be aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses on the course.

Overall, four ball golf is a fun and challenging format that can add a new dimension to the game of golf. Whether playing in a competitive team event or just for fun with friends, it can provide a unique experience and a chance to work together towards a common goal.

It is a format that can be adapted to different skill levels, making it a great option for both beginner and experienced golfers. For example, in a match play format, a higher skilled player can partner with a less skilled player, allowing the less skilled player to learn from their partner and still contribute to the team’s score.

One of the key benefits of four ball golf is that it can help to speed up play on the course, as players are playing their own ball and can take the best score from their team. This can reduce the time it takes to complete a round and make the game more enjoyable for all players involved.

Another advantage of four ball golf is that it can help to build teamwork and communication skills, as players need to work together and communicate effectively in order to achieve the best score for their team. This can be particularly beneficial for young golfers, who can learn valuable life skills while also having fun on the course.

Overall, four ball golf is a format that offers a unique and enjoyable experience for golfers of all skill levels. Whether played in a team event or as part of a casual round with friends, it can provide a fun and challenging way to enjoy the game of golf.


Scoring in Four Ball Golf

HolePlayer 1 ScorePlayer 2 ScoreTeam ScoreTeam Score to ParDifference to Opponents

Four Ball Golf Format in Team Events

Ryder CupFour BallMatchVaries
Presidents CupFour BallMatchVaries
Solheim CupFour BallMatchVaries
Walker CupFour BallMatchVaries
Curtis CupFour BallMatchVaries

Strategies in Four Ball Golf

Play to your strengthsEach player should focus on playing shots that they are comfortable with and that suit their playing style.Player A always hits their driver straight, while Player B is a good putter.
Aggressive playTaking risks can lead to lower scores, but players should be mindful of the potential consequences of a miss.Player A goes for a long carry over a hazard, while Player B lays up for a safe shot.
Course managementChoosing the right clubs and aiming for safe spots on the course can help to avoid costly mistakes.Players decide to hit a shorter club off the tee to avoid a fairway bunker.
CommunicationPlayers should discuss their strategy before each shot and be aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.Players agree that Player A will hit first to set up the best approach shot for Player B.
Mental toughnessStaying focused and positive can help to overcome challenges and maintain a competitive edge.Players remain optimistic and supportive, even after a bad hole.

Advantages of Four Ball Golf

Speeds up playEach player is playing their own ball, reducing time spent searching for lost balls.Players complete a round of golf in under four hours.
Builds teamwork skillsPlayers need to work together and communicate effectively to achieve the best team score.Partners support and encourage each other throughout the round

Four Ball Golf Handicap Allowances

Handicap DifferentialCourse Handicap Allowance
0.0 to 5.4100%
5.5 to 12.490%
12.5 to 20.480%
20.5 to 28.470%
28.5 to 36.460%

Professional Four Ball Golf Tournaments

TournamentLocationPurseWinner’s ShareEstablished
Zurich Classic of New OrleansNew Orleans, LA$7.4 million (2021)$1.07 million (2021)1938
ISPS Handa World Cup of GolfVaries$8 million (2016)$2.24 million (2016)1953
Korea Professional Golfers’ Association Fourball ChampionshipSouth KoreaKRW 1.2 billion (2020)KRW 240 million (2020)2015

TFamous Four Ball Golf Pairings

PairingNationalityMajor WinsRyder Cup RecordNotable Accomplishments
Jack Nicklaus & Tom WatsonUSA34-3-1Dominated the 1977 Ryder Cup, winning all four matches they played together.
Tiger Woods & Mark O’MearaUSA31-1-1Won the 1999 World Cup of Golf, as well as multiple PGA Tour events.
Seve Ballesteros & José María OlazábalSpain211-2-2Nicknamed “The Spanish Armada,” they were one of the most successful Ryder Cup pairings in history.
Phil Mickelson & Keegan BradleyUSA13-1-0Went undefeated as a pairing during the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Arnold Palmer & Jack NicklausUSA13-1-0Played together in the 1971 Ryder Cup, winning all three of their matches together.


What is Four Ball Golf


  • 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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