Often known as better-ball, what is the four-ball golf format and how does it work?
Introduction to Four Ball Golf
Golf, with its rich history and diverse range of formats, constantly offers players new ways to challenge themselves and enjoy the game. One of the formats that stands out in terms of strategy and camaraderie is Four Ball Golf.
At its core, Four Ball is a team-based format, where two players join forces against another pair, but with a unique twist. Instead of combining scores or alternating shots, each golfer plays their own ball throughout the round. The best score between the two teammates on each hole is the one that counts. This format not only emphasizes individual performance but also team strategy, as players can take risks knowing they have a partner to rely on.
Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner eager to explore different game types, Four Ball offers a dynamic blend of competition and teamwork. Dive in, and discover the nuances and thrill of Four Ball Golf.
Also Referred To As ‘better-ball’
Also referred to as ‘better-ball’, ‘best-ball’ and even ‘4BBB’, four-ball is the most popular pairs format in golf and is played at huge team events like the Solheim Cup, Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, where it was first used in 1963 at East Lake Golf Club.
How to play four-ball
Four-ball golf sees two players compete as a team playing their own ball. The lowest score of the pair on each hole then provides the overall team score for that particular hole.
For example, if Player A makes a 5 on the 1st hole but their partner Player B makes a 4, the team score for that hole is a 4.
This means that once you realise you cannot beat your partner’s score, you are not required to also finish, and your ball can simply be picked up.
Four-ball can be played using match play or stroke play format. In match play, on each hole your team’s best score goes against your opposition team’s best score to determine who wins the hole. In stroke play, your final score consists of the total of each individual hole’s best score.
Playing with handicaps
According to the R&A, if you are competing in a four-ball stroke play competition, each player is given 85% of their handicap allowance.
For example: If Player A has a handicap of 15, they will be given 13 shots in four-ball stroke play competitions (15 x 0.85 = 12.75, rounded up to 13).
In four-ball match play games, the handicap allowance can be a little trickier to work out. Here, the handicap allowance is 90% of the difference from the lowest handicap golfer in the match.
For example: Golfers A and B, with handicaps 4 and 8, are playing against Golfers C and D, with handicaps 10 and 12. Golfer A is the lowest handicapper, so gets 0 shots. The other players then subtract 4 from their handicap and multiply this difference by 90%:
Golfer A: 0 shots (lowest handicapper)
Golfer B: 4 shots (8 – 4 = 4 x 0.9 = 3.6, rounded up to 4)
Golfer C: 5 shots (10 – 4 = 6 x 0.9 = 5.4, rounded down to 5)
Golfer D: 7 shots (12 – 4 = 8 x 0.9 = 7.2, rounded down to 7)
Four Ball Golf stands as a testament to the versatility and depth of the sport of golf. By seamlessly merging individual prowess with team strategy, it offers a unique experience that both challenges and rewards players.
Whether you’re seeking a fresh challenge or simply aiming to bond with fellow golfers, Four Ball Golf promises memorable moments on the green. Embrace the blend of competition and camaraderie, and let the spirit of the game shine through.
FAQ: Four Ball Golf
What is Four Ball Golf?
Four Ball Golf is a team-based format where two players partner up against another pair, with each player playing their own ball throughout the round. The best score between the teammates on each hole is the one that’s counted.
How does scoring work in Four Ball?
Only the best score from each team on a hole counts. For instance, if one player scores a 5 and their partner scores a 4, the team’s score for that hole is 4.
Do both players’ scores count on each hole?
No, only the best score between the two players on a given hole counts towards the team’s overall score.
Is Four Ball the same as Best Ball?
Yes, Four Ball is often referred to as “Best Ball.” However, it’s different from “Scramble” or “Alternate Shot” formats.
What happens in case of a tie on a hole?
If both teams have the same best score on a hole, the hole is considered “halved,” and each team earns half a point (in match play) or moves to the next hole with no change in the cumulative score (in stroke play).
Is Four Ball Golf suitable for beginners?
Absolutely! Four Ball can be an excellent format for beginners as they can rely on their partner, allowing for a mix of competitive play and learning.
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