Best Ball Golf Format Explained

Best Ball is a great golf format for a Tournament or Competiton, where you can enjoy playing as a team with another partner and have the personal satisfaction of playing well as an individual.

The usual pressure that occurs when playing a team game is drastically reduced when playing the Best Ball Format.

A video by Professional Todd Kolb explains how to Play a Best Ball Tournament In Golf.

To understand the various formats of golf, it is necessary to understand the difference between Matchplay and Stroke play.

Golf formats

Strokeplay is the most common and popular form in amateur and professional competitions. In strokeplay, every player (or team) hits their own ball for every shot in completing their round of

18 holes. In professional events, players normally go out in three’s and sometimes two’s.In match play, two players (or two teams) play a separate contest on every hole against each other. The golfer or team with the lowest score on that hole wins the hole irrespective of how many strokes he won the hole by. If the scores of both players or teams are the same, the game is “halved” (drawn).

The game is won by the golfer or team that wins more holes than the other. Matchplay is a very popular form in club competitions A “Best ball” Competition or Tournament is where 2, 3,or 4 players play as partners and is normally played as stroke play . Each player in a team plays their own ball throughout the round normally of 18 holes. The lower score of the partners is the score for the match.

As an example of “Best Ball Scoring,” we will use a “four-ball” team. On each hole all members of the team will tee off, each walks to their own golf ball and plays their second stroke; each walks to their golf balls and plays their third stroke and so on until they have sunk the ball and completed the hole.

Once all four members have completed the hole, scores are compared and the lowest score of the four, team members count as the score for that hole.
That’s “Best Ball”. For example, if the four scores for Hole 1 are 4, 4,6 and, 5 the score for that hole is 4. If for Hole 2 the Team member’s scores are, 5,4,7, and 3 the team score is 3, and so on.

It is recommended to apply handicaps in “best ball” competitions so that the weaker players can
contribute to the team score.

The handicap system

A handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential that is used to enable players of varying abilities to compete against one another. Most golfers will understand this. Better players are those with the lowest handicaps. A golfer with a handicap of zero is known as a scratch golfer and one whose handicap is 18 is referred to as a bogey golfer.

If a golfer has a handicap of 18 he is allowed a free stroke (ie- to be one over par for the hole) on all 18 holes of an 18 hole golf course. If he has a handicap of 7 he may only have a free stroke on the 7 most difficult holes.

Best Ball VS Scramble

Often people will ask what the difference is between best ball and scramble and which is the best format for them to play.

Both formats will be described as being played with two-person teams for ease of explanation “Two-person Best Ball ( also known as fourball ii the Ryder Cup) consists of two-person teams in which each member on the team plays his or her own ball throughout all 18 holes.

After each hole that is played the player with the lowest score on that hole uses his score as the score for that hole ( or “best ball”). The higher scoring player’s score is not used for that hole.

As an example, if player A records a 4 and player B a 5 the team should record a 4 as their best ball score for the hole. Each player must record his actual score per hole and record their best ball score on a separate line.

Scoring variations

Scores tend to be slightly higher in best ball than in scramble because if you hit a bad shot you have to play it from where it landed and hope that your partner is doing better.

In Two-Person Scramble, both players tee off and then they decide which is the better ball to play. Both players then play from that spot.

The player whose shot has not been chosen picks up his ball and places it within one club length of the chosen spot. It can be less than one club length from the chosen spot as long as it is not closer to the hole.

They then hit their next balls from the selected spot and again pick the preferred ball. This is continued until they hole out.

Players cannot move the ball from the rough to the fairway. If the chosen ball is in the rough the placed ball must also be in the rough.

The use of this format

This format is ideal for beginners and, players with differing skill sets. If you are a bad driver you can always choose your partner’s ball and if the ball is lying in a good position you can afford to give it a good hard swing.

If it goes wrong you can always choose your partner’s ball or if it works out you end up in a good position.

Once the golfers have completed the game of 18 holes each golfer or team then counts the total number of strokes and the golfer or team with the lower total net score ( gross scoreless handicap)
wins the round of 18 holes.

Final Thoughts

The best ball format is very popular especially with players who have just begun playing golf or have a high handicap as this format allows them to experience competitive golf  With three or four players in a team and only the lowest score counting per hole, if a poor shot is played, or the player shoots a high score on a particular hole he can hope to rely on one of his team having a better score.

Related Articles

Nick is the founder of GolfSpan and an avid golfer. He's not quite a pro but has over 15 years of experience playing and coaching golfers worldwide. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience when it comes to choosing the right golf gear and finding the right setup for your game.

You might also like these