What Are the Rules of Four Man Best Ball in Golf?

By Robert Preston
Four player best ball is a tournament golf format in which teammates all play their own ball, choosing the best score on each hole for the team's score.
Four player best ball is a tournament golf format in which teammates all play their own ball, choosing the best score on each hole for the team's score.

Four player best ball is a variety of golf in which all four players in a group are working together to achieve the best possible score. As every hole played only counts for the best score handed in by a player on a team, a squad has the ability to shoot much lower than their individual scores.

Best Ball Basics

When playing as a foursome in a best-ball event, all four players in a group are working together as part of a team. Each player tees off and plays the hole in the order of the team's choosing, with each player completing the hole with their own ball.

At the end of the hole, only the best score handed in by any player on the hole is counted as the team's score. If, for example, Team A plays a hole and the players shoot 3, 5, 5 and 6, respectively, and Team B has all four players with a score of 4, Team A would have the better score for the hole, 3 to Team B's 4, even though A had 19 total strokes to B's 16.

Team Management

When playing shots in a normal round of golf, the order off the tee is determined by the scores of the players on the previous holes, and all future shots are determined by the player farthest from the hole. In best ball, however, as all four players are working together, the team may select the order of the shot for all four players as they see fit.

Often, teams will elect to have at least one each of a consistent player, who can be relied on to score decently on each hole, and an aggressive player, capable of both low and high holes. When the aggressive players shoot well, their low scores can be used, and holes where they struggle allow the consistent players to prevent the team from having to hand in a high score.

Rules Violations

A team is not punished for a minor violation of the rules by an individual on the team that affects the score on one hole. For example, in the event that a player on a team accidentally plays the ball from an illegal position, that player is disqualified for the hole and cannot be counted on to be used as the team's score for that hole. But the team can still submit a score for the hole.

The team as a whole is penalized, however, for major rules violations that affect an entire round, such as a player playing with too many clubs in the bag. In instances such as this, the team's final score is assessed a penalty equal to the penalty assessed to an individual in a normal round for the infraction.

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