This year, it’s going to be very easy to watch British Open online. When you are watching it, you may notice commentators discussing the four-ball. What does this mean exactly?
The four-ball comes in two forms. It is in match play and stroke play. Four-ball match play is a match in which two players play their better ball against the better ball of two other players. In four-ball stroke play, two golfers play as partners and play their own ball. The lower score if the two partners are the score for the hole. In both of these forms of play, if one partner fails to complete their hole, there is no penalty as long as their partner returns a score for the hole.
Four-ball got its name when it first appeared in 1908 rule book and came from the fact that there were four balls in play at a time in a match. Four-ball stroke play did not appear until 1952.
Some things to remember about four-ball match play and four-ball stroke play:
The definition of a “side” under the rules of golf is a player, two or more players, who are partners. This was introduced in 2012. In four-ball match play and four-ball stroke play, aside only has to be represented by one partner for all or any part of a match or stipulated round in stroke play.
Balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order the side considers the best. In four-ball stroke play, the gross score to count must be individually identifiable on the scorecard.
There are some penalties that have been laid out for both forms of four-ball play. They are broken down into categories. There is one in which the entire site is penalized for a breach by any partner on the side. Each player has penalized two strokes. There are disqualification penalties as well.