Golf is a game rich in variety, with different formats offering unique challenges and opportunities for players. One such format that stands out for its team-oriented nature and strategic depth is “Four-Ball.

we’ll explore:

  • What is Four Ball in Golf?
  • What does 2 ball mean in golf?
  • 10 tips for winning 4-ball golf

History of Four-Ball

Origin and Evolution

The concept of Four-Ball, also known as “best ball” or “better ball,” traces its roots back to the early days of golf. It emerged as a way for players to engage in friendly competition while also fostering camaraderie among teammates. Over time, the format gained popularity and became a staple in both casual rounds and competitive tournaments.

Popularity in Golf Tournaments

Four Ball has become a favorite format for various golf tournaments around the world, including prestigious events like the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Its appeal lies in the dynamic interplay between teammates, where individual performances contribute to the overall success of the team.

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What is Four Ball in Golf?

golf ball

our-ball, also known as better ball or 4BBB, is a team format in golf where two players compete together as a side. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Two players form a team.
  • Each player plays their ball throughout the entire round.
  • The team’s score for each hole is the lower score of the two individual players’ scores on that hole.
  • Only one player needs to complete the hole for the team to receive a score.

Four-ball can be played in two main ways:

  • Stroke play: Teams compete to have the lowest total score over a set number of holes. This format is used in tournaments like the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
  • Match play: Two teams of two players directly compete against each other. Each hole is won by the team whose individual player has the lower score on that hole. The first team to win a majority of the holes wins the match. This format is used in renowned team competitions like the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, and Presidents Cup.

In essence, four-ball emphasizes teamwork and strategy, as players can support and benefit from each other’s strengths during the game.

What does 2 ball mean in golf?

In golf, “2 ball” can refer to two different things depending on the context:

  1. Two-ball format: This refers to a situation where only two golfers play together in a group, regardless of whether they are playing individually or as a team. This is in contrast to the typical four-ball format where four golfers play together in a group. Two-ball formats are often implemented during times of high course traffic or due to local regulations (like pandemic restrictions). They are also sometimes used as a way to speed up play on the course.

  2. Two-Person Best Ball: This is a specific team format where two golfers play as a team. Each golfer plays their ball throughout the round, but the team’s score for each hole is the lower score of the two individual players’ scores on that hole. This format encourages teamwork and strategy, as players can support and benefit from each other’s strengths on the course. It is also considered a more forgiving format than individual stroke play, as a bad hole from one player can be mitigated by a good hole from the other.

So, the meaning of “2 ball” in golf depends on the specific context in which it is used. If you hear the term and are unsure which meaning is intended, it’s always best to ask for clarification.

Read also: How to Choose the Right Golf Ball?

10 tips for winning 4-ball golf

Communication and Strategy:

1. Communicate effectively:

Before each hole, discuss your game plans and shot selections. Share knowledge of the course and individual strengths/weaknesses.

2. Develop a team strategy

Decide which player will hit first based on their strengths for the specific hole. Consider alternating who hits first throughout the round.

3. Be flexible and adaptable

Be prepared to adjust your strategy based on the situation. If one player is struggling, the other can step up and take on a more aggressive role.

Course Management and Teamwork:

4. Prioritize course management

Both players should focus on smart shot selection and avoiding penalties rather than solely going for birdies or eagles.

5. Play to your strengths

Each player should focus on playing to their strengths, and the team should leverage those strengths for optimal performance.

6. Support and encourage each other

Maintain positive communication and offer encouragement throughout the round. A supportive team environment fosters better performance.

Maximizing Scoring Opportunities:

7. Capitalize on birdie and eagle opportunities:

When both players have good chances for a birdie or eagle, take calculated risks to potentially gain a significant advantage on the hole.

8. Minimize mistakes:

Focus on solid ball striking and smart course management to minimize mistakes and avoid dropping shots. Remember, a four-ball format allows for some forgiveness, so prioritize avoiding big scores.

9. Practice putting together:

Dedicate some practice time specifically to putting as a team. This can help develop a shared strategy and improve your consistency in clutch situations.

Maintaining Focus and Sportsmanship:

10. Stay focused and maintain composure:

Even in challenging situations, stay focused on the next shot and avoid getting discouraged by setbacks. Remember, good sportsmanship is crucial throughout the competition.

By following these tips and emphasizing effective communication, strategic shot selection, and teamwork, you can increase your chances of success in a Four-Ball golf competition.

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four-ball vs foursome golf format

Both four-ball and foursome are team formats in golf that involve two players each, but they differ in how the team plays the holes:

Four-ball (also known as better ball or 4BBB):

  • Each player plays their ball throughout the entire round.
  • The team’s score for each hole is the lower score of the two individual players’ scores on that hole. This means the better-performing golfer on each hole contributes their score to the team’s total.
  • Only one player needs to complete the hole for the team to receive a score.

Foursome (also known as alternate shot):

  • The team plays with only one ball.
  • Players take turns hitting shots throughout the round, alternating on each shot (player A hits the tee shot, player B hits the second shot, player A hits the third shot, and so on).
  • Both players must complete the hole for the team to receive a score.

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:

Feature Four-ball Foursome
Number of balls played Two One
Scoring Lower scores of both players Team score based on combined shots
Shot order Each player hits their ball Players alternate shots
Completing the hole Only one player needs to finish Both players must finish


In essence:

  • Four-ball emphasizes individual skill while allowing for some forgiveness thanks to the better ball format.
  • Foursome requires more teamwork and coordination, as players need to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses throughout the round.

Both formats are popular in team competitions like the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, and Presidents Cup, offering different strategic approaches and testing various aspects of a team’s golfing skills.

Rules and Format of Four-Ball

Team Composition

In Four Ball, each team consists of two players, who play their ball throughout the round. At the end of each hole, the lowest score among the two teammates is recorded as the team’s score for that hole.

Scoring System

Scoring in Four-Ball can be done using either match play or stroke play formats. In match play, teams compete against each other hole by hole, with points awarded based on the outcome of each hole. In stroke play, the total number of strokes taken by each team determines the winner.

Strategies and Techniques

Communication between Teammates

Effective communication between teammates is essential in Four-Ball. Discussing strategy, sharing insights, and offering encouragement can help maximize the team’s performance and minimize mistakes.

Playing to Each Other’s Strengths

Understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses allows teammates to tailor their approach to each hole. For example, if one player excels at driving off the tee while the other is skilled at putting, they can leverage these strengths to gain an advantage.

Managing Risks and Opportunities

Four Ball requires a balance between aggression and caution. Knowing when to take calculated risks and when to play it safe can make the difference between a successful round and a disappointing one.

Benefits of Four-Ball in Golf

Four-Ball, also known as the best ball, offers a plethora of advantages that contribute to its widespread popularity among golfers of all skill levels. Let’s delve into the various benefits:

1. Enhanced Team Dynamics

Unlike individual play, Four-Ball requires players to collaborate closely with their teammates. This fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork as players strategize together, offer support, and celebrate successes as a team. The bond forged through Four-Ball extends beyond the course, strengthening friendships and fostering a sense of belonging within the golfing community.

2. Competitive Edge

Four-Ball introduces a competitive element that adds excitement and motivation to the game. Players are not only vying for personal success but also striving to outperform their opponents as a team. This heightened level of competition pushes players to elevate their performance, leading to greater focus, determination, and resilience on the course.

3. Learning Opportunities

Participating in Four-Ball tournaments offers invaluable learning experiences for players at every level of proficiency. Playing alongside a teammate provides an opportunity to observe different playing styles, strategies, and techniques. By witnessing firsthand how their partner navigates challenges and capitalizes on opportunities, players can expand their repertoire of skills and tactics, ultimately enhancing their overall game.

4. Shared Responsibilities

In Four-Ball, teammates share both the triumphs and challenges of the game. This shared responsibility not only alleviates the pressure on individual players but also instills a sense of accountability and mutual support. Whether it’s offering encouragement after a missed shot or strategizing together to overcome obstacles, teammates collaborate to optimize their collective performance and maximize their chances of success.

5. Variety in Gameplay

Four-Ball injects a refreshing element of variety into the golfing experience. Unlike traditional stroke play, where players compete solely against the course, Four-Ball introduces an additional layer of complexity to the team dynamic. From coordinating strategies to capitalizing on each other’s strengths, Four-Ball offers a dynamic and engaging gameplay that keeps players on their toes and ensures that no two rounds are alike.

6. Strategic Depth

Four-Ball requires players to think strategically not only about their shots but also about how their decisions will impact their teammates and the team’s overall score. This strategic depth adds an extra layer of complexity to the game, challenging players to consider factors such as course conditions, opponents’ strategies, and risk-reward scenarios. By honing their strategic thinking skills, players can become more adept at navigating the intricacies of the game and making well-informed decisions under pressure.

7. Social Interaction

Golf has long been renowned for its social aspect, and Four-Ball further enhances this aspect of the game. Whether it’s bonding with a longtime friend, forging connections with new acquaintances, or strengthening business relationships on the course, Four-Ball provides a platform for meaningful social interaction. The shared experience of competing together creates lasting memories and strengthens the bonds between players, making Four-Ball not just a game but a social occasion to be cherished.

Examples from Professional Golf

Notable Four-Ball Tournaments

The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup are prime examples of prestigious four-ball tournaments that showcase the world’s top golfers competing in a team format. These events captivate audiences worldwide and highlight the unique dynamics of the Four-Ball play.

Legendary Partnerships

Throughout golf history, there have been legendary partnerships that have dominated the Four-Ball format. From Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, these iconic duos have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Navigating the complexities of Four-Ball golf requires more than just individual skill—it demands a keen understanding of teamwork, strategy, and effective communication. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Lack of Communication

Effective communication between teammates is paramount in Four-Ball golf. Failing to communicate openly about strategy, shot selection, and course conditions can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities. To avoid this mistake, establish clear channels of communication with your partner and actively discuss your game plan before each shot.

2. Overly Competitive Mindset

While competition is an inherent aspect of Four-Ball golf, becoming overly fixated on winning at all costs can be detrimental to your performance. It’s essential to strike a balance between competitiveness and sportsmanship, focusing on playing your best while also enjoying the camaraderie of the game. Remember that golf is ultimately about challenging yourself and improving your skills, regardless of the outcome.

3. Ignoring Course Conditions

Neglecting to adapt to changing course conditions can significantly impact your performance in Four-Ball golf. Factors such as wind direction, green speed, and course layout can have a significant influence on your shot selection and strategy. Be attentive to these variables and adjust your game plan accordingly to maximize your chances of success.

5. Poor Time Management

Time management is critical in Four-Ball golf, as delays can disrupt the rhythm of play and affect your concentration. Avoid spending excessive time deliberating over shots or engaging in lengthy discussions with your partner. Instead, strive to maintain a steady pace of play and be mindful of your responsibilities as a team member.

6. Neglecting Team Strategy

In Four-Ball golf, it’s essential to approach each shot with a clear understanding of your team’s overall strategy. This includes coordinating your efforts with your partner, leveraging each other’s strengths, and capitalizing on scoring opportunities. Avoid the mistake of solely focusing on your performance and instead prioritize the collective success of your team.

7. Failure to Adapt

Golf is a dynamic game, and conditions on the course can change rapidly. Failing to adapt your strategy to accommodate these changes can hamper your performance in Four-Ball golf. Remain flexible and open-minded, and be willing to adjust your game plan based on evolving circumstances such as weather conditions, course layout, and your opponents’ tactics.

Inconsistent Support

Supporting your teammate is essential in Four-Ball golf, both emotionally and strategically. Avoid the mistake of being overly critical or negative towards your partner, as this can undermine their confidence and cohesion as a team. Instead, offer constructive feedback, encouragement, and assistance whenever needed, fostering a positive and supportive team dynamic.

Tips for Success in Four-Ball

Preparing Mentally and Physically

Approaching Four-Ball with the right mindset is crucial for success. Visualizing shots, staying focused, and maintaining a positive attitude can help you perform at your best under pressure.

Practicing as a Team

Practicing together as a team allows you to develop synergy and rapport with your teammates. Spending time on the driving range and practicing various shots can build confidence and cohesion.

Staying Flexible and Adaptive

Flexibility is key in Four-Ball, as conditions on the course can change rapidly. Being willing to adjust your strategy on the fly and adapt to unforeseen challenges can help you stay competitive and resilient.


In conclusion, Four-Ball is a captivating format that offers a unique blend of teamwork, strategy, and competition. Whether you’re a casual golfer looking to enjoy a round with friends or a seasoned competitor vying for victory in a tournament, mastering the nuances of Four-Ball can elevate your game to new heights.


1. Is Four-Ball the same as Best Ball?

  • Yes, Four-Ball is often referred to as Best Ball, as it involves teams of two players competing with the lowest score on each hole counting as the team’s score.

2. How is Four-Ball different from Foursomes?

  • In Four-Ball, each player plays their ball throughout the round, while in Foursomes, teammates alternate shots with the same ball.

3. Can I play Four-Ball with players of different skill levels?

  • Yes, Four-Ball is a flexible format that accommodates players of all skill levels. It’s an excellent way to enjoy the game with friends or family members regardless of their level of experience.

4. What happens if one player on a team performs poorly in Four-Ball?

  • In Four-Ball, the team’s score is based on the lowest score of the two teammates on each hole. This allows for some leeway if one player struggles, as long as the other player performs well.

5. Are there any handicaps in Four-Ball?

  • Handicaps can be applied in Four Balls to level the playing field between teams of different skill levels. This ensures a fair and competitive match for all players involved.