What is Four Ball in Golf Match?

When an experienced player thinks about golf the first thing that may come to their mind is the smell of the freshly cut grass, the joy of striking a perfect shot, and watching the ball roll down to the hole with as low a score as possible.

For some golfers, it is not just a seasonal sport but rather a passion, a lifestyle they want to keep throughout their lives. While it can be more frustrating than not, a golfer knows their competition is truly against themselves.

What is Four Ball in Golf Match?

However, there is quite a huge number of factors that contribute to the kind of experience a golfer gets. Some of those factors include where they play, the techniques and formats they practice, the club set they have chosen, knowing about when to use a certain club head and even the Balls they play with.

One of the ways to recapture your passion for golf is to upgrade your equipment, which will encourage you to start playing play. This article is going to discuss one of the factors that you must know before you choose your ideal set, the kind of Balls you can play with, and what is a Four Ball in golf formatting.

Most Played Golf Formats

Golf is a sport that is played by golfers with different levels of skill set. While some may be well-experienced, others may just be starting or are casual/seasonal players who play golf just as a hobby. Therefore, there are various golf formats that are played by golfers, each with different rules.

So they can choose the format they prefer the most, whether they want to excel in it or even just learn it to upgrade their skill. Let us discuss a few of the most commonly played formats for you to understand them better.

Four Ball

One of the most popular formats of playing golf is the Four Ball or the ‘Best Ball’ as some may call it. This format involves two teams with two partners each and requires each partner of a team to get as low a score as possible with a single ball.

In case, one of the partners fails to complete the play of the hole, there is no set rule of any penalty. To make it simpler, this format consists of Four balls of four different players, each playing their best ball to win the game by scoring the lowest.

Skins Game

A more competitive form of playing golf is the Skins format, as this is where a prize is involved, and that prize is referred to as ‘Skins’. Each hole has a certain amount of monetary benefit which increases as you move on to the next hole and it is played with either three or four balls, which is decided at the beginning of the game.

The interesting part about this format is, if one person hits their shot directly into the hole, that is a straight win. However, if all the participating players fail, then the prize of that hole gets added to the next hole’s prize and they move on to playing the next round until the last hole.

Alternate Shot

Also known as ‘Foursome’, this format involves the participation of two partners to play against each other by taking alternate shots at one ball. It can either be played with Match Play of Stroke Play format and rules are essentially the same for that of an individual play match, except the one difference that is requiring for each player to take an alternate shot.

Another variation of this format of play is ‘Threesome’, where an individual player competes with two partners who play under the same rules. The interesting part about this format is that you can give or ask for help if required, obliging Rule 10.


Another commonly played golf format is Scramble, which consists of a team of four players in total and each player hits a ball throughout the whole match. The team captains choose the best shot and each player then has to use the same spot for hitting their shot.

For this format, the rules are relatively relaxed and informal, which is why it is played for Charity events mostly according to the organizer’s rules.

Only one ball is used by all four members of the team, hence one score is counted per hole. To determine the rating of a Scramble team, the best scores are added from the total number of best shots taken.

The team with the lowest score overall becomes the winner of the tournament, in case there is a tie between teams then the organizer picks a random hole number through a draw, and the team with the lowest score for the particular hole wins.

Stroke Play

Stroke Play is also referred to as Medal Play and is a format of golf that works based on a scoring system. The number of strokes taken to hit the ball in the hole over one or more rounds, the total number of strokes are then added and the player with the lowest score wins the match.

Most tournaments enforce a certain cut, whereby the participating players have to make it to the ‘cut line’, if they fail to do it, then they do not continue playing the tournament further.

In case there is a tie between the player, the usual ways to decide a winner is through playoffs and scorecard countback.

While playoff requires the participating players to decide a number of holes and replay for a new score, the countback, however, is used more in amateur competitions or if a playoff is not practical for any reason. This method does a ‘count back’ for the player with the lowest cumulative score over the last 18,9,6,3 or 1 hole.

What is Four Ball in Golf and How is it Different?

Four Ball format itself is a combination of either Match Play or Stroke Play. With reference to Rule 31, this format requires a team of two players to compete using their own ball each and scoring as low as possible in order for one player to win.

This format was first introduced in the 1908 R&A Rule book and it was of the concept that as there are four balls in a play at a time during the match, the name of the format was decided to be kept Four Ball for that very purpose.

Match play 101: Four Ball
Watch this video on YouTube.

If looking at it from the perspective of a learner, this format can allow you to learn not just about different competitions but also how a certain Ball of your collection performs on different surfaces and whether or not you can count on a specific Ball for important shots of international level tournaments.

Four Ball vs Skins

The Skins format is more competitive than Four Ball, as with this format, there is a certain amount of monetary benefit involved. Every hole is a stake, which doubles as you move on to the next hole. However, in the Four Ball format, there is no prize or monetary benefit involved, which in turn reflects less pressure and allows for the golfer to practice their best shot with their best ball.

Four Ball vs Alternate Shot

The difference between Four Ball and Alternate Shot (also called Foursome and has a variation called Threesome), is that Four Ball is played by two opponents who each use their own ball for every hole, which means Four Balls for four different holes.

Whereas Alternate Shot requires a team of two members who each take alternate shots on the same ball until the hole is complete. Four Ball does not allow any caddies to help you, while Alternate Shot has an extent of help that can be acquired in form of advice or guidance.

Four Ball vs Scramble

While in a Scramble format, players hit the ball from the Tee and the spot where the best shot was taken is chosen for the next round and that is where the shots are taken from by all the participating players.

However, in Four Ball format, each player hits their own ball through the whole round, and at the end of the game when all the Balls have been holed, the player with the lowest score of the ‘best ball’ out of them for balls wins.

Four Ball vs Stroke Play

When we talk about Four Ball, it is a format that actually uses either Stroke Play or Match Play, whereby the participating golfers are required to compete as partners with their own balls.

The winner in both these formats is decided as per the score, whoever has the lowest number of strokes wins the match.

Hence, if technically looked at Four Ball, Match Play, and Stroke Play, they are all the same formats used for a single game played by an even number of players in order to make teams.

Selection of Golf Balls

Just like there are countless options in the market when you go out to choose which golf set would be suitable for your requirements, whether you are an experienced player, a beginner, man, woman, or junior player.

Similarly, there are two categories when it comes to golf Balls, Recreational and Advanced. While Recreational Balls are designed for seasonal golfers, Advanced Balls are used by experienced players as they allow easy spinning and lofting.

These categories have further variations, which include Practice or Range Balls, Recycled Balls, or X-outs. Each of these 3 kinds of balls has its own set of characteristics and offer a difference inexperience. Do not worry, we will walk you through the difference between each Ball type and how they can be useful for you according to your skill level in golf.


Also known as Practice Balls, these are relatively less expensive as compared to other balls and fall under the category of Recreational Balls which are used by seasonal or ordinary golfers.

These balls are designed specifically to be played within narrow areas and cover a short distance due to being lightweight. You can find Practice or Range Balls in two materials, Plastic and Foam.

The difference between the material of the Ball is merely the place where you practice, the cost, durability, and mimicry of the flight.

The feel of these Balls is quite different from real golf balls, but they are considered great for those who want to practice at home without spending too much. Some of the most used Practice Balls are:


When we talk about Recycled Balls, we do not want to confuse them with Refurbished Balls. As seasonal or beginner players are not as practiced as experienced players, they tend to lose their Balls quite frequently, especially if they are playing on intensively grassy or sandy surfaces or areas near water.

The Balls that are lost and are later found by other golfers or are sold by sellers without any touchups done are called Recycled Balls, hence, the quality, type, and brand are not restricted to one.

On the other hand, Refurbished Balls are the ones that are worked on to try and bring them back to their original shape by making them smoother with either repainting or sandblasting and stamping.

Which is an uncertain way to know whether you are even buying the Ball that it says it is. While Recycled Balls are somewhat recommended to buy, if you merely want to practice and recapture your golf passion, however, with Refurbished Balls you are at risk of being sold a fake Ball.


As can be figured by the notion of the name itself, these are the kind of Balls that fail the quality control testing or rather are rejected Balls that the manufacturer does not want to sell under its name. These Balls come under the X Series, hence, X-outs, and are sold at deeply discounted prices.

The Balls do not have huge flaws, other than cosmetic imperfections, however, since they fail the QC testing and are not up to the standard, they cannot be used in tournaments as that is considered illegal to every extent.

Although, the Balls are considered useless the interesting part about them is that they offer a higher level of compression and a firmer feel as compared to a regular or advanced ball.

Moreover, you can swing these Balls faster and unlock a higher speed which can work to your advantage, especially if you want to practice or even just play around with your swing, speed, or cover long distances.

How to Choose the Perfect Balls for Four Ball?

Choosing the right golf ball is just as important as choosing the right club to play with. While you may be a brand loyal golfer who likes to repeatedly buy from the same manufacturer, it is important to realize that with the development and advancement in technology, there are plenty of other manufacturers that offer some great quality golf balls.

Not only is it advantageous to have the perfect Ball but knowing the features of Balls is equally important. You can now find Balls with various specifications, that deliver differently and help with your specialized golf techniques as well. This guide will walk you through some of the important features that you might want to take into consideration the next time you are buying a golf ball.


First and foremost, the way a ball is made or rather constructed. This is the most essential feature you need to consider when choosing a golf ball as you want to make sure how the ball will react once your club hits it.

Will it fly high? Will it cover a long distance?

Will you get a sufficient response with it? All these questions and more are dependent on the construction of the ball. Let us further break down the most common type of constructions, how they look and their potential to perform.


One of the most common types of balls that is found mainly on mini-golf courses is the One-piece ball which is made of surlyn and is made as one strong, rock look alike sphere with a dimpled surface which has a single layer.

This construction of ball is much harder in comparison to other construction and you will find them easily on driving ranges.

One-piece golf balls are considered as one of the basic and least expensive balls and they are designed purely for beginner and novice players to practice their hits and power shots.


This construction of the ball is used by most golfers who want reliability along with durability with a fair price as they allow for you to cover a long distance easily, while also enhancing your performance.

Two-Piece balls are made of a large core, designed specifically to maximize your skill in covering long distances, as this ball flies easily and offers a bit of control as well for short-range shots.


While the one-piece and two-piece balls are all about covers and cores, the Three-piece balls, however, introduce the mantle.

In addition to the layer of the cover and core, there is another layer of the mantle which is between the other two layers and it works towards adding a boost to your performance which also having a softer cover which offers more spin impact on the ball.

The mantle is usually a soft rubber-like layer and is great for amateur golfers, experienced golfers as well as mid-handicappers.


The more a player’s skill set advances in golf, the more technical their choice becomes in terms of which ball would suit their golfing technique perfectly. This is what the Four-Piece ball offers, as it is a more advanced construction of balls and is relatively more expensive than the rest.

These balls are used to get maximum performance and are made of multiple core or mantle layers. These additional layers contribute towards the performance aspect and increase the short game control while flying high and covering long distances.


As a matter of fact, so far there are only two manufacturers that produce the Five-Piece Balls, which are TaylorMade and Callaway.

As understood by the name, this kind of ball has five layers that work for each category of shot like Driver, Long, Mid, and Short Irons as well as wedges.

Five-piece balls are purely for advanced players and are made with multiple cores, mantles, and a cover. For far distances and soft landing, this ball construction is the most used by elite golf players.


If you are keen on learning how to spin your ball while taking a shot, then it is important that you get a ball that gives you enough capacity for spinning.

The dimples or ‘dots’ you see on your ball are what help your ball fly high as the air under the low-pressure zone goes upward to the ball due to the difference in pressure. The more air is pushed toward your ball, the more your ball will spin high and fast.

Low Spin

As suggested by the characteristic itself, Balls with a low spin tend to have a decreased spin when hitting the shot, which allows for the ball to go straighter towards the hole.

Although the Ball may not travel as high in the air, however, due to the decreased spin the ball will propel forward once it lands. Balls with low spin are recommended for those who find it hard to determine the distance on the ground.

Mid Spin

Mid Spin balls are used to cover the gap between the two other types of spinning balls, low and high. They offer you a great balance between distance and the feel of the ball and are used by a wide range of golfers, whether beginners or experienced players.

The soft feel a mid-spin ball offers varies from brand to brand, however, it offers great distance coverage and is suitable for all players.

High Spin

Lastly, high spin balls are specifically designed to have an increased spin for the ball when struck in the air.

As soon as your club hits the ball, it is released with a backspin of a certain degree which increases spin and carries the ball for a longer time.

For those who like to play out of control hook shots, they most definitely need a ball with draw spin that contributes further towards the backspin of the ball.


Compression is one of the key features of a golf ball, especially if you have a set style of playing and like for your ball to swing and cover distances at a certain speed level.

As you, as you hit the ball and your club squishes against your ball, that is when compression occurs, allowing for the ball to fly while being compressed with a certain level of impact and interaction.

You must keep two things in mind when choosing the level of compression in a ball, the core of the ball and the swing speed that is most suitable for you.

There are various options available in compression, the higher the compression the faster your speed, and the lower the compression the lower your swing speed. Let us differentiate between the two compression types, Low and High.

Low Compression

Normally a low compression ball is the rate at either 70 or 80 and is used by beginners, women, juniors or novice players who are just getting started at the game. A few noticeable manufacturers who have produced high-quality low compression balls are:

High Compression

For more experienced players or low handicap golfers, high compression balls are great at the rate of 90, which is considered a hard ball and requires the player to hit the ball hard. However, high compression balls are great in terms of having control.


Choosing a golf ball is all about personal preferences, and the Feel of the ball is a major part of every golfer’s preference. Compression is closely related to Feel as when you hit the ball, you have a certain goal in mind.

If you want for it to swing enough, fly high, or cover a required distance, it depends on the feel of the ball whether or not you can achieve that. The temporary change you see in your ball when you hit it reflects its feel, and the lower compression a ball has the softer a ball will be.

On the other hand, the higher compression a ball has the lesser it will deform, allowing for you to hit faster shots with harder impacts.

What is Four Ball in Golf: FAQ’s

Now that we have discussed various types of golf balls and techniques, we hope you understand the difference between all the different kinds of balls and how to choose the one that fits your requirements perfectly while also contributing towards upping your performance as a golf player.

Let us move on further and answer some commonly asked questions by golfers who need further surety and clarification.

✅ How to Choose the Right Golf Ball?

As one of the key features of a golf ball is compression, you need to know whether or not the ball you are choosing offers a rate of compression that will work for your style of playing.

The easiest way to know how much compression you want is by knowing whether you preferred faster swings or slower. The lower the compression the slower the swings and vice versa.

✅ Do Dimples on a Golf Ball Help?

Dimples are an extremely important characteristic of a golf ball as they help in breaking the air around the ball during the flight and are measured by two features, the lift, and the drag.

For balls with a comparatively lower spin, the dimples are more like to be a bit shallow which allows for the ball to fly high and stay in the air for a relatively longer duration.

✅ How Do Golf Balls Make a Difference?

Varying from player to player, the point to keep in mind here is how passionate one is about golf. If you are a seasonal player who likes to play just as a hobby, noticing the difference might take you quite a few rounds.

However, for an experienced player, it does make a difference in terms of swing, speed, and the distance that needs to be covered along with the feel of the ball.

✅ Are Balls That Cover More Distance Better Than Balls That Give More Spin?

Your style of playing determines best which ball type would be more suitable for you.

If you are a player who plays games that require covering long and far distances and struggle with getting your ball to the hole from the tee then you need a ball with a high speed.

However, if your hit is hard enough for the ball to cover the distance but have a hard time with accuracy then you should choose a ball which offers more spin.


Golf is an extensive game considering the numerous types of clubs, balls, formats, and techniques there are, however, for a passionate golfer choosing the right equipment and style is not as difficult.

With the right advice and guidance, you can excel at golf in a relatively shorter time, but if you rely solely on learning on your own, that may take more time and become frustrating for you.

Now that we have covered all the possible types of formats for you, we hope you understand what is ‘Four ball’ in golf and how interesting of a format it is. Along with that, the different kinds of balls can help you choose the perfect four for this format.

Challenging yourself to different formats can help you stay competitive and passionate about this sport as having a monotonous technique with no exciting challenges may bore you faster than you know.

Last update on 2021-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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