The Thrills of Four-Ball Golf: A Spectator’s Guide

Golf is a sport known for its various formats, and one that has gained significant popularity among players is Four-Ball. The Four-Ball format introduces a thrilling and dynamic element to the game, making it a favorite among golfers of all levels. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of Four-Ball in golf, including its unique characteristics, rules, strategies, and more.

Thrills of Four-Ball Golf

Understanding the Four-Ball Format

What is Four-Ball?

Four-Ball, also known as Better Ball, is a golf format where two teams of two players compete against each other. Each player on the team plays their own ball throughout the round, and the team’s score for each hole is the lower score of the two players. Essentially, it’s a team game where the best score from each team is used for scoring.

How is Four-Ball Different?

Four-Ball differs from other golf formats, such as stroke play or match play, in its team-oriented nature. Instead of individual scores, the focus is on the team’s combined score, which adds an exciting element of strategy and collaboration to the game.

Key Elements of Four-Ball

In Four-Ball, teams consist of two players each, creating a dynamic partnership on the course. The scoring is based on a hole-by-hole basis, with the team using the lower score of the two players as their score for each hole. The team with the lowest total score at the end of the round wins the match.

Rules of Four-Ball Golf

Understanding the specific rules of Four-Ball is essential for a smooth and fair game. Here are some key rules to keep in mind:

Team Play

In Four-Ball, the order of play within each team is usually determined before the round. The team members can alternate tee shots or decide on a specific player to hit first on each hole. Additionally, substitutions may be allowed in case a player is unable to continue or complete the round.


Scoring in Four-Ball is based on the team’s performance on each hole. The team records the lower score of the two players as their score for the hole. For example, if Player A scores a 4 and Player B scores a 5, the team’s score for that hole is 4. At the end of the round, the team’s scores are added up to determine the total score.

Strategies for Four-Ball Success

Achieving success in Four-Ball requires not only individual skill but also effective teamwork and strategic decision-making. Here are some strategies to consider :


Open and effective communication between team members is crucial in Four-Ball. Discussing strategies, sharing information about the course, and providing support to each other can lead to better decision-making and overall performance.

Shot Selection

Choosing the right shots is vital in Four-Ball. Players should assess the situation and consider their partner’s strengths and weaknesses when deciding on the best approach. Balancing risk and reward becomes a key factor in maximizing the team’s scoring potential.

Capitalize on Strengths

Identifying and capitalizing on each team member’s strengths can give a significant advantage in Four-Ball. Players should leverage their individual skills to complement each other and create a well-rounded team.

Partner Selection in Four-Ball

Selecting the right partner is crucial for a successful Four-Ball team. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a partner:

Complementary Skills

Look for a partner whose skills and playing style complement your own. For example, if you excel at long drives, a partner who has strong short game skills can create a balanced team.


Playing as a team requires synergy and chemistry between partners. Consider a partner with whom you share good rapport and communication, as it will enhance the overall team experience.

Trust and Support

Choose a partner whom you trust and who can provide support in challenging situations. Mutual encouragement and confidence in each other’s abilities are essential for a strong team dynamic.

Course Management in Four-Ball

Effective course management is critical in Four-Ball, as it helps optimize scoring opportunities and mitigate risks. Consider the following strategies:

Navigating Hazards

Identify potential hazards on the course and plan your shots accordingly. It’s essential to strategize how to avoid or minimize the impact of hazards such as water hazards, bunkers, or dense rough.

Approach Planning

When approaching the green, consider the position of your partner’s ball as well. Strategically positioning your shots can create favorable scoring opportunities for both players.


Unlike individual play, decision-making in Four-Ball should take into account both players’ perspectives. Discuss and agree upon the best course of action, considering each other’s strengths, the team’s position, and the match situation.

Mental Game and Four-Ball

The mental aspect of Four-Ball should not be overlooked. Here are some tips to enhance your mental game:

Mental Focus

Maintaining focus throughout the round is crucial in Four-Ball. Concentrate on your own shots and support your partner’s performance to maximize the team’s scoring potential.

Managing Pressure

Pressure can arise during critical moments in a Four-Ball match. Develop strategies to stay composed under pressure, such as deep breathing, positive self-talk, or visualization techniques.

Team Morale

Maintaining a positive team morale can have a significant impact on performance. Encourage and support each other, celebrating successes and overcoming setbacks together.

Four-Ball Tournaments and Competitions

Four-Ball tournaments are prevalent at different levels of golf, providing opportunities for golfers to compete in this exciting format. Here’s what you need to know:

Notable Four-Ball Events

Several professional and amateur golf tournaments feature Four-Ball competitions. Research and explore events such as the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on the PGA Tour or local Four-Ball tournaments in your area.

Participating in Four-Ball

To participate in Four-Ball tournaments, check with local golf clubs, associations, or tournament organizers. They can provide information about eligibility, registration, and upcoming Four-Ball events.


In conclusion, Four-Ball in golf offers a thrilling and team-oriented approach to the game. By understanding the format, rules, and strategies, golfers can enhance their enjoyment and performance in this exciting format. Embrace the dynamics of Four-Ball, communicate effectively with your partner, and apply strategic decision-making to make the most of this unique golf experience. So gather your partner, hit the course, and enjoy the challenges and rewards that Four-Ball golf has to offer.


Q : Is Four-Ball only played in professional golf tournaments?

A : No, Four-Ball is played at various levels of golf, including professional tournaments, amateur events, and even friendly matches among golfing buddies.

Q : Can I substitute a player during a Four-Ball match?

A : Substitutions may be allowed in certain situations, such as if a player is unable to continue due to injury or unforeseen circumstances. Check the specific rules of the tournament or match you are participating in for clarification.

Q : Are there specific rules for Four-Ball regarding order of play?

A : In Four-Ball, the order of play within each team can be determined before the round. Teams may alternate tee shots or decide on a specific player to hit first on each hole. The flexibility in order of play allows teams to strategize based on individual strengths and match situations.