Are you new to golf and wondering what four-ball is all about? Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned golfer, it's important to understand the different formats within the sport to best appreciate its complexities.

Four balls is one of the most interesting variations of golf that tests both your physical as well as mental capabilities.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the various aspects and rules related to four balls so that you can make informed decisions when it comes time to play a round.

What are four balls in golf and how it differ from other formats?

Four balls is a format of golf played by four players in two teams. Each team member plays his golf ball throughout the course, and the lowest score achieved by any player on either team is counted as their overall team score for that hole.

This means if one golfer scores 4 strokes and another golfer scores 5 strokes, then the team's total score would be 4. The team with the lowest total score at the end of the round is deemed the winner.

Unlike other formats such as stroke play or match play, four ball requires more than just individual skills to succeed - it needs a level of coordination between players to outplay competitors.

As such, four ball is considered to be an interesting and complex variation of the sport.

How to Play Four-Ball

Four ball is played similarly to other formats of golf. Teams will begin by teeing off from the first hole and then progressing through to the 18th hole.

However, an important distinction between four-ball and other formats is that players are free to play their ball throughout the entire round - there is no requirement for all members to hit each shot from the same spot.

The overall score for each team is determined by the lowest score of any individual player on either team at each hole. This means that all players should aim to play their best, as a single stroke can make a difference in determining the result of the round.

It's also important to note that four-ball does not employ a handicap system - instead, players are free to play as they wish and the team's score is based solely on what each player achieves.

This means that two teams of equal skill can still compete against one another for the win.

Different Strategies for Four-Ball

There are a few strategies that can be employed in four balls which can give players an advantage over their opponents.

Team up:

As the scoring for each team is based on the lowest individual score, one strategy to ensure a good result is for teams to work together and support one another.

Players must communicate with each other during the round so that they can make sure their decisions are in line with what the team wants to achieve.

Play the low ball:

As previously mentioned, the lowest individual score determines the team's overall score.

This means that a good strategy is for each player to focus on playing their ball and aim for the lowest possible score - even if it costs them strokes elsewhere. This way, they can guarantee a decent overall result for their team.

Play aggressively:

Another strategy to consider is for players to be aggressive with their shots. As the lowest individual score counts, each player should try to be assertive and take risks if they think it will pay off - even if it means sacrificing a few strokes on other holes. This way, they can improve their chances of achieving a good overall team score.

Be flexible:

Finally, it's important to be flexible when playing four-ball. As the course layout can vary significantly from one hole to another, players should be prepared to adjust their strategies accordingly to make the most of each situation and gain an advantage over their opponents.

This requires a great deal of communication between all players, as well as a good understanding of the course layout.

Benefits of Playing Four-Ball

Here are some of the key benefits associated with playing four-ball.

It's more enjoyable and less competitive:

Unlike other formats of golf, four-ball is a less competitive format and therefore more enjoyable for all players.

As the overall score is determined by the lowest individual score, there is no need for players to compete against each other or worry about their performance. This can make the game much more relaxed and fun for everyone involved.

It encourages co-operation:

Four Ball encourages players to work together and communicate with each other to achieve a good team score.

This means that teams need to be coordinated and supportive of one another to succeed, which can make for an enjoyable learning experience as well as a great game.

It's more accessible:

Four balls is a great format for players of all skill levels, as it does not employ a handicap system.

This makes it easier and more accessible for beginners to get involved in the game and improve their skills without feeling out of their depth.

It's fast-paced:

Four balls is also a much faster-paced format than other variations of golf, as each hole is played by all four players in quick succession.

This can be beneficial for busy schedules, as it means that a full round of 18 holes can be completed in a shorter amount of time.

Types of four-ball games and their variations

Here are some of the different types of four-ball games that can be played.

Four Ball Stroke Play:

Four-ball stroke play is the most popular variation. As the name suggests, it's played similarly to regular stroke play - teams compete against each other and the lowest individual score for each hole is counted as their overall team score.

Four Ball Match Play:

Four-ball match play is a variation of the stroke play game where teams compete against each other on an individual basis.

The team with the lowest cumulative score at the end of the round wins, regardless of their overall performance compared to their opponents.

Team Best Ball:

Team best ball is a variation of four-ball stroke play where the teams compete against each other.

The difference is that the lowest score out of all four players on a team counts as their cumulative score.

This means that even if two players have relatively high scores, their combined result can still be lower than other teams' scores.

Four Ball Scramble:

Four ball scramble is a variation of the traditional four ball where teams compete against each other.

The difference is that teams take turns playing shots from the same spot, with each player's shot counting as their team's score.

This means that all players must work together and cooperate to achieve a good cumulative result.

With these different variations of four balls, there's something for everyone - whether you're a beginner or an experienced golfer.

Each variation has its own set of rules and strategies, so it's important to understand them before playing a round.

Common Rules and Regulations for Four-Ball

Here are some of the common rules and regulations that apply to four-ball games.

Formal attire:

Players should always be dressed appropriately for the course, including wearing golf shoes and protective clothing.

This helps to promote a professional atmosphere while on the course and ensures that everyone feels comfortable.


Players need to keep scorecards, as this helps them to accurately track their performance.

Players should also be sure to write down the names of all team members and keep a tally of everyone's scores throughout the round.

Every shot counts:

Players need to remember that every stroke they take during a round of four balls counts toward their team's overall score.

This means that they should be extra careful with each shot and take the time to assess the lie, angles, and other factors before taking it.

Out of bounds:

Players should always make sure to stay in bounds when playing four-ball.

If a ball goes out of bounds or lands in a hazard, then the player must take a one-stroke penalty and place the ball back where it was before.

Unplayable lies:

If the lie of a ball is deemed to be unplayable by all players on the team, then they can choose to either play from another spot no closer to the hole or take an additional stroke penalty.

Tips for Winning at Four-Ball

Here are some tips for winning at four-ball:

Have a plan:

It is important for teams to have a plan going into each hole - this means deciding who will be playing which shots, and how they should position themselves on the course.

This can help the team to stay focused and maximize their chances of success.

Work together:

Four ball is all about teamwork, so players need to work together and coordinate their efforts.

This can include making sure that everyone takes their shots in the correct order or providing helpful tips to one another throughout the round.

Analyze the course:

Teams need to analyze the course before playing a round of four-ball, as this can help them plan their approach and identify any potential hazards or difficult areas.

This can also help players to adjust their strategy if they find themselves in challenging positions.

Choose your clubs wisely:

Choosing the correct clubs is essential for success in four balls - it's important to select the ones that will give you the best chance of success for each shot.

This means selecting clubs based on distance, lie, and other factors so that you can optimize your performance.

Have fun:

Fourball is a great way to have some fun with friends or family while still enjoying a challenge. Taking time to socialize and enjoy the game can help players stay relaxed and focused, which can lead to better results.

By understanding the different variations of four balls, common rules, and regulations, and following some useful tips, you'll be well on your way to becoming a pro at this exciting form of golf. Have fun out there!


What is the difference between stroke play and match play in four balls?

The main difference between stroke play and match play in four ball is that in stroke play teams compete against each other and the lowest individual score for each hole is counted as their overall team score.

In match play, teams compete against each other on an individual basis and the team with the lowest cumulative score at the end of the round wins.

Are there any special rules when playing four-ball?

Yes, certain rules and regulations must be followed when playing four-ball.

These include wearing the appropriate attire, keeping scorecards, taking all shots seriously as they count towards the overall team score, staying in bounds, and dealing with unplayable lies correctly.

What tips can I use to improve my performance at four-ball?

To improve your performance at four balls, you should have a plan before each hole, work together with your team, analyze the course before playing a round, choose your clubs wisely, and most importantly have fun!

Following these tips can help to make sure that you get the best out of your game.

Is it possible to win without having the best score?

Yes, it is possible to win without having the best score.

In match play, teams compete against each other on an individual basis and as long as your team has a lower cumulative score than that of your opponents, you will be declared the winner.

This means that if you can work together as a team and strategize effectively, you can still win even if your score isn't the best.


All in all, Four-Ball can be an engaging and fun game for golfers of all levels. Once you understand the basics – like types of games, rules, strategies, and tips – Four-Ball is a great way to immerse yourself in a completely new type of golf that’s both competitive and social.

The game takes dedication to master, but even the beginner can come away from it with some fresh knowledge and a newfound appreciation for the sport.

Why not give it a try yourself? See if you have what it takes to win at Four-Ball!


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