How to Play Best Ball in Golf: Strategies, Tips, and Format Comparisons

Colin McCarthy

How To Play Best Ball In Golf

Looking to spice up your next golf outing? Best ball golf might just be the answer. This popular format allows you and your teammates to play your own game while still contributing to a collective score.

It’s perfect for both casual rounds and competitive events, adding a layer of strategy and camaraderie to your play.

In best ball golf, each player hits their own shots and records their individual scores. The team score for each hole is determined by the best individual score among the team members.

Whether you’re playing in a two-person or four-person best ball event, understanding the rules and strategies can elevate your game and make the experience more enjoyable.

Ready to dive into the details? Let’s explore how to play best ball in golf and make your next round a memorable one.

Essential Rules of Best Ball Golf

Best Ball Golf, also known as four-ball golf, is a popular format where teams of two players compete against each other, with each player playing their own ball throughout the round.

Here are some essential rules for Best Ball Golf:

Team Formation

Form teams with two to four players each. Ensure all players are assigned to the same team to avoid complications on the leaderboard.

Each golfer records their individual score for every hole, contributing to the team’s overall performance with their best scores.

Form teams with two to four players each. Ensure all players are assigned to the same team to avoid complications on the leaderboard.

Each golfer records their individual score for every hole, contributing to the team’s overall performance with their best scores.

The best ball format encourages teamwork, allowing each member to focus on their strengths while fostering a competitive yet enjoyable atmosphere.

Scoring System

Calculate the team score by selecting the best score among team members for each hole. For instance, if Player A scores 5 and Player B scores 4 on a hole, the team’s score for that hole is 4.

Use a net best ball scoring system, incorporating handicaps, to level the playing field. Handicaps provide free strokes on holes based on player ratings, starting from the most difficult hole.

This system ensures that all players, regardless of skill level, can contribute meaningfully to the team’s performance. When applying handicaps, adjust each player’s score before determining the best ball.

This method promotes fair competition and enhances the overall enjoyment of the game by giving each player a chance to shine.

Common Penalties and How to Avoid Them

Familiarize yourself with regular golf rules to avoid common penalties. Ensure each player’s individual score is accurate to prevent disqualification.

Out-of-bounds shots and water hazards often result in penalties plan shots strategically to avoid them. Keep pace to ensure timely play and avoid slow-play penalties.

This concise guide to the essential rules of best ball golf clarifies team formation, scoring, and penalties to enhance your playing experience.

How to Play Best Ball in Golf

Playing Best Ball in golf is a fantastic way to enjoy the game while fostering camaraderie and friendly competition among players.

Best Ball, also known as four-ball golf, is played in teams of two, with each player hitting their own ball throughout the round.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to play Best Ball:

Form Teams

When forming teams, consider players’ strengths and weaknesses. Pairing players of similar skill levels can lead to more balanced competition.

If players don’t know each other well, consider mixing up the pairings to encourage social interaction and camaraderie. Additionally, establishing clear guidelines on handicaps can ensure fairness.

Using a shotgun start format can keep play moving smoothly, especially in larger groups. Don’t forget to emphasize enjoyment and sportsmanship.

Establish Handicaps (Optional)

Handicaps can be calculated based on players’ recent scores or handicap indexes. They provide a way to level the playing field and ensure fair competition among players of different skill levels.

Handicaps can be adjusted for the course’s difficulty. Additionally, proper calculation and regular updating of handicaps are essential for maintaining the integrity of best-ball competitions. Adapting handicaps according to each course ensures a balanced and enjoyable game.

Determine Tee Order

The tee order can be determined randomly or by mutual agreement among players. Some players prefer alternating tee shots throughout the round, while others may stick with a consistent order.

Consistency in tee order can help maintain rhythm and pace of play. Furthermore, understanding each player’s strengths can optimize team performance.

Communication is key, ensuring everyone knows their role. Effective strategy will lead to a smoother and more enjoyable game.

Tee Off

Tee off from the designated teeing area for each hole. Consider factors such as wind direction, hazards, and course layout when selecting clubs and aiming your tee shot.

Confidence and focus are crucial during this initial shot, as it sets the tone for the hole. Pay attention to your stance and grip to ensure consistency.

Communication with your teammates is key, as best ball relies on collective strategy. Always play to your strengths for optimal results.

Select Best Shot

Choosing the best shot requires strategic thinking. Consider factors like distance to the hole, lie of the ball, and potential obstacles.

Effective communication between teammates is key in determining the optimal shot selection. Additionally, understanding each player’s strengths will help in deciding who should take the shot.

Regularly practicing together can also enhance team synergy and improve overall performance in best ball golf.

Alternate Shots

After selecting the best shot, the teammate whose ball wasn’t chosen steps aside while their partner plays the next shot. This alternating shot sequence continues until the ball is holed.

Players should coordinate shot selection and execution to maximize their team’s performance on each hole.

Communication is key; discussing strategy ahead of time ensures both players are on the same page. Effective teamwork can significantly lower your score and enhance the overall enjoyment of the game.

Record Scores

Accurately recording scores ensures fair play and maintains integrity throughout the round. Keep track of each player’s score on the scorecard, noting the team’s score for each hole based on the lower of the two scores.

Attention to detail in scorekeeping helps prevent disputes and confusion. Moreover, utilizing official scorecards or digital scoring apps can streamline the process.

Consistent score tracking is crucial for identifying areas of improvement and fostering a competitive spirit.

Continue Play

As the round progresses, adapt to changing course conditions and challenges. Stay focused on executing each shot to the best of your ability while maintaining a positive attitude. Enjoy the opportunity to experience the course and the game with your playing partner.

Remember to communicate effectively with your partner to strategize and choose the best shots for your team. Keep track of your scores accurately and adhere to the rules to ensure a fair and enjoyable game.

Etiquette and Pace of Play

Respect for the course and fellow players is essential in golf. Repair divots, rake bunkers, and adhere to pace-of-play guidelines to keep the game enjoyable for everyone.

Show consideration for other groups on the course by allowing faster players to play through when necessary.

Additionally, maintain a quiet atmosphere during others’ shots, and be attentive to the rules and etiquette specific to each golf course. Always arrive on time, and make sure to mark your ball clearly.

Enjoy the Game

While competition is inherent in Best Ball Golf, don’t lose sight of the enjoyment and camaraderie it offers. Celebrate successes, support each other through challenges, and savor the moments spent on the course with your playing partner.

Embrace the spirit of the game and create lasting memories together. Remember to communicate effectively and strategize with your teammate to enhance your overall performance. Keep a positive mindset and focus on improving your skills with each round you play.

Strategies to Win at Best Ball

Winning at best ball golf requires a mix of individual talent and effective teamwork. Employ the following strategies to maximize your team’s performance.

Choosing the Right Teammates

Select teammates whose skills complement yours for optimal synergy on the course. Players with consistent driving abilities or strong putting skills balance a team where each member’s strengths compensate for others’ weaknesses.

For example, if one teammate excels in long drives, another should be reliable with short iron shots. Additionally, effective communication and strategy planning before each match can significantly enhance your performance. Discuss game plans, decide on shot selections, and adapt as needed for changing conditions.

Decision Making on the Golf Course

Make informed decisions based on each player’s current form and course conditions to navigate the game effectively. Prioritize selecting shots that minimize risk, particularly if your team holds a lead.

Communication plays a crucial role in keeping everyone aligned on strategies. For instance, when approaching a hazardous area, decide together whether to play conservatively or take a calculated risk.

Additionally, always monitor weather conditions as they can significantly impact gameplay. Regularly evaluate your team’s performance and adapt your strategies accordingly to maintain a competitive edge.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Common issues and troubleshooting tips can help smooth out the wrinkles in any endeavor.

Here’s a guide to some potential problems in Best Ball Golf and how to address them:

Dealing with Uneven Team Skills

To address uneven team skills, concentrate on leveraging each golfer’s strengths. Assign roles based on individual abilities. For instance, utilize a consistent driver for tee shots and an accurate putter for critical greens.

This strategy can balance out discrepancies in skill levels. Encourage supportive communication to boost team morale and cooperation.

Knowing each member’s strengths and playing to those strengths increases overall performance and minimizes the impact of varying skill levels.

Managing Slow Play

Efficient play is crucial in best ball golf. Encourage faster decision-making by planning shots in advance. For example, decide on club selection and strategy before reaching the ball.

Avoid extensive deliberation over every shot. Use ready golf principles where the golfer ready to play hits first.

Stress the importance of pace without sacrificing concentration. Managing slow play ensures a smoother game flow and maintains the camaraderie and enjoyment of the game.

Comparing Best Ball with Other Golf Formats

Understanding how best ball compares to other golf formats helps you choose the right format for your game and event.

Best Ball vs Scramble

In best ball, each team member plays their own ball throughout the round, and the team score is based on the lowest individual score on each hole.

For instance, if you shoot a par while your teammate shoots a bogey, the par is counted as the team score for that hole. This format allows individual skills to shine and minimizes pressure.

In a scramble, all team members hit their shots, then choose the best one and play their next shots from that spot. This process continues until the hole is completed.

Scrambles emphasize teamwork and strategy for placing the ball in the best possible position each shot. For example, if you hit a long drive but your teammate’s lies in a better spot, the team plays from your teammate’s position.

When to Choose Best Ball Over Other Formats

Opt for best ball when you want to highlight individual skills while also contributing to a team effort. Best ball is ideal for golfers of varying skill levels as it allows everyone to play their game with less pressure, making it suitable for competitive events with mixed abilities.

Choose scramble formats for more relaxed, social outings or charity events where fun and camaraderie are prioritized.

Scrambles are perfect when you want to involve less experienced golfers, allowing everyone to contribute without the stress of individual performance impacting the team’s score.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is best ball golf?

Best ball golf is a team-based format where each golfer plays their own ball, and the team’s score on each hole is the lowest score achieved by any team member for that hole. It emphasizes individual skill within a team setup.

How is best ball different from scramble?

In best ball, each player plays their own ball independently, and the best score on each hole is used. In a scramble, all players hit from the same spot and choose the best shot, continuing this until the hole is completed. Scramble focuses more on teamwork.

When should you use the best ball format?

Best ball is suitable for events with mixed skill levels, as it allows individual skills to contribute to the team’s success without putting too much pressure on any single player.

What are the main strategies for winning in best ball golf?

Key strategies include selecting teammates with complementary skills, effective communication, and playing to each player’s strengths.


Best ball golf offers a unique blend of strategy and camaraderie, making it an excellent choice for various events. By focusing on team coordination and individual skills, you can enjoy a game that’s both challenging and rewarding.

Whether you’re playing with friends or in a competitive setting, best ball allows each player’s strengths to shine through.

Remember to choose your teammates wisely and communicate effectively to maximize your chances of success. So, next time you’re planning a golf outing, consider best ball for a fun and engaging experience.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with the rules and formats of best ball to ensure smooth gameplay. Practicing together before the event can also enhance team synergy and performance on the course.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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