What Is 4 Ball In Golf?

4 Ball is one of the most exciting formats of golf for players and spectators alike.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before, plenty of people haven’t but once they have, they’re instantly hooked!

Read on to find out more about everybody’s favorite type of golfing contest…

What Is 4 Ball In Golf

4 Ball Golf Format

The premise basically revolves around two teams of two golfers competing against each other.

Each of the four golfers involved plays their own ball on each hole. Then, the lowest score for either golfer on each team is added to the team’s overall score.

For example, imagine Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are competing on the same team in a 4 ball golf match (what a dream partnership!).

If Woods scores 5 on the first hole and McIlroy scores 6, only Woods’ score is counted, and the team will have a total score of 5. This process repeats for every hole and the team with the lowest total score at the end wins.

The format is also sometimes referred to as four ball better ball (or 4BBB) because it only factors in the better of the two teammates’ scores.

Alternative Formats

There are three main ways that 4 ball golf can be played: singles, doubles, or triples.

In singles, all four golfers play together on one team. The best score from any player on that team is then added to the team’s final score.

In doubles, there are two teams of two golfing buddies who compete against each other. Each pair plays separately on one side of the course and the combined low scores from both sides are used to calculate the winning team’s score.

Triples are similar to doubles except that there are three pairs of golfers instead of just two. The top score from each pair is added to the team score.

How To Play 4 Ball Golf

You may think that playing 4 ball golf would be pretty difficult since you’d need to keep track of four different balls, but it’s actually quite simple.

All you need to do is make sure your golf balls are numbered 1 through 4, so you know which ones belong to whom.

This way, when you hit the shot, you’ll simply look at the number next to your ball and choose the correct one. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t.

When you’re ready to start playing, you’ll need to pick up a set of clubs and tee off. You don’t even need to use your own golf ball – you can use an official tournament ball.

Once you’ve teed off, you should wait until everyone else has finished their round before starting yours. That way, you won’t accidentally shoot someone’s ball while waiting for them to finish.

Interestingly, for the game format to work properly, both golfers on each team don’t even need to finish a hole, just one of them.

Let’s use the Woods and McIlroy example again. If McIlroy goes first and scores 5 on a hole for his attempt, Woods only need to beat that score to improve his team’s overall score.

Therefore, if he gets to his 5th stroke and still hasn’t made the hole, he doesn’t need to finish the hole, and McIlroy’s score is the only one counted.

Rules Of 4 Ball Golf

What Is 4 Ball In Golf

The most interesting thing about 4 ball golf is how it removes the solitary, solo aspect of regular golf competitions and turns it into a team.

Just like with any kind of competitive team format, there is a strict set of rules in place that exist separately from the actual gameplay itself. Here are some examples:

  • A player on one team can mark, lift, drop, and clean their partner’s ball as if it were their own (following the same normal golfing rules for all of these actions).
  • A caddie can offer advice to both players in a single team as if they were one golfer.
  • One player in a team can make executive decisions about conceding a hole or a shot on behalf of their teammate.
  • If one player in a team fails to arrive at the course on time, their partner can continue to play on their own until they show up.
  • Both players can decide which order to play their shots in, considering which order would be most strategically advantageous for their team.

What Makes 4 Ball Golf So Much Fun?

Like we’ve already said, 4 ball golf is one of the fan’s favorite formats for competitions, but why is it so enjoyable to watch?

Well, it’s mainly because the format itself encourages risk-taking and ambitious plays.

For example, the last player to act on a hole will know exactly how many strokes they need to improve their team’s score or beat the other team.

This often means there’s no point in playing it safe and getting a worse score than your partner. Therefore, the player is encouraged to make some pretty ambitious shots to try to score birdies and eagles.

Another reason this format is fun to watch is because it means every shot counts. The last player to act in the hole could end up being the difference between winning and losing.

Is 4 Ball Golf Harder Than Regular Formats?

In terms of basic golfing techniques and abilities, 4 ball is no more difficult than playing a regular game of solo golf.

The only difference is that 4 ball players at the professional level need to be better at the more complex, risky shots to try to outscore their teammate.

The only other difference in terms of the skill sets required for 4 ball and regular golf is in terms of strategy.

Obviously, being able to decide which order to play your shots in as a team is something that needs to be considered, and it often becomes a key discussion point between both team members and their caddies.


4 ball golf is a great way to challenge yourself and test your skills against another person. It also gives you the chance to compete with someone who has similar skills to you.

It’s a fun and exciting competition that encourages a lot of risk-taking and strategic maneuvers, so why not get onto a course with some friends and give it a try?

David Shelly
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