Unlocking Success: Best Ball Golf Format Demystified

The best ball golf format is a competitive style that combines individual play with teamwork. Players form teams, and each player plays their own ball, but only the lowest score among teammates on each hole counts. With handicap allowances and a focus on collaboration, this format offers unique challenges and encourages both individual skills and teamwork.

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Key Takeaways

  • Teamwork with a Competitive Edge: Best ball golf combines teamwork and competition. It’s all about working together to achieve the best possible team score on each hole.

  • Equal Opportunity for All: Handicaps are considered, ensuring players of all skill levels can compete on a level playing field, making it inclusive and fair.

  • Historical Roots: Best ball golf has a rich history dating back to the early days of golf, and it continues to evolve as a popular format for modern golfers.

  • Strategic Play: Success in best ball golf relies on smart strategy. Play to your strengths and communicate effectively with your teammates for a strong team score.

  • Tournaments for All: Best ball golf tournaments come in various formats, from casual rounds with friends to more competitive events. It’s a versatile and enjoyable way to play.


Golf is a game of tradition and style where players aim to complete a course in the fewest strokes possible. In traditional play, each player takes their own shot and counts their own score for every hole. But what if there was another way to play that still tested your skills while adding an element of teamwork?

That’s where the best ball golf format comes in. The best ball golf format is a competition style that involves teams of two or more players competing against each other.

In this game, each player plays their own ball throughout the round. However, only the lowest score between teammates on each hole counts toward their final score.

This allows for better team performance and can improve rankings. The concept of best-ball golf has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until 2018 that it became an official event recognized by the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA).

Since then, many events have been organized around this format, and it has become increasingly popular among golfers. One of the biggest advantages of best ball golf is its handicap allowances.

Each player’s handicap is taken into account when calculating the final score. This ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to compete, regardless of skill level.

Check out this video below from Eclecto Tuber‘s YouTube channel:

Handicaps also make it easier to compare scores against different opponents and can help determine which team performed better during a given round. While playing in a traditional stroke play game can often be stressful for participants as they focus solely on their individual performance, playing in the best ball format encourages teamwork and collaboration among teammates.

Rather than competing against one another directly on every hole, players work together to get the lowest possible score as a team on each hole. It can be exciting to watch how different combinations of players work together and perform throughout an entire round.

Overall, playing golf in a best-ball format offers unique challenges that require both individual skills and teamwork between partners. Whether you’re looking for a new way to compete or simply want to change up your usual golf routine, the best ball golf format is definitely worth trying out.

Golf ball laying on wooden top on golf course

Understanding the Best Ball Golf Format

Best ball golf, also known as better ball, is a popular format of golf that can be played individually or as a team sport. It’s a fun way to play with other golfers and participate in a game requiring more than individual effort.

In this format, each player plays their own ball throughout the round. The best score from the team or group is recorded on the scorecard for each hole.

If there are four players in a group playing the best ball, then the lowest score of all four players will be recorded as the team’s score for that particular hole. The structure of best ball golf is similar to the scramble format, but with some key differences.

In scramble format, all players hit from the same spot after every shot and choose which shot to use for their next shot. However, in best ball golf, players hit from their own spots and use their own scores.

Handicap allowances can also be used in best-ball golf tournaments. This allows participants to compete against others of different skill levels by adjusting their scores based on their handicaps.

The Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) Championship is an example of a major tournament that uses this format. The SCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship allows two-person teams to play together using this style of play.

Overall, best ball golf can be enjoyed by both amateur and professional golfers alike. It’s an exciting format that allows players to work together as a team while still showcasing each individual’s skills on the course.

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History of the Best Ball Format

The best ball golf format has become increasingly popular in recent years, but did you know that it has been around for quite some time? 

In fact, the format dates back to the early days of golf. The history of best ball golf can be traced back to Scotland in the 16th century, where two-person teams would play a match against each other using a foursome format.

However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the modern version of “best ball golf” began to take shape. One of the earliest documented uses of best ball golf in tournament play was by the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) in the late 1930s.

The SCGA used this format for one of their tournaments as a way to make it more interesting and exciting for participants. The popularity and success of this tournament led to other organizations adopting best ball golf as part of their tournament formats.

The rules for “best ball golf” have also evolved over time. Originally, there were no specific rules governing this format, and players were allowed to use any combination of shots they wanted.

Over time, however, rules were put in place to govern how teams could choose which shot to use and when. Today, best ball is a team sport that is played around the world with different variations and rules depending on where you are playing.

Some popular variations include four-ball (also known as “better ball”), scramble, and alternate shot. Each variation offers its own unique challenges and requires different strategies from players.

Regardless of which variation is being played or what the final score may be, what’s important is that everyone can participate in this fun format regardless of skill level or experience with traditional play. It’s a great way to get together with friends or family members for an enjoyable round of golf while still competing against each other in a friendly manner.

Golfer looking at water sprinklers wet golf green

Strategies for Best Ball Golf

When playing best ball golf, there are a number of strategies that can help you and your teammates succeed. One important strategy is to make sure that everyone on your team plays to their strengths. For example, if one of your teammates is particularly good at driving the ball, you might want to have them take the lead on longer holes where distance off the tee can make a big difference.

On shorter holes, you might want to have another teammate who excels at chipping and putting take charge. Another key strategy in best ball golf is communication.

Unlike traditional stroke play games where players are each responsible for their own score, in best ball golf, everyone’s score contributes towards the final score for the team. This means that it’s important to work together and communicate about each shot to ensure that everyone knows what’s going on and can adjust their game accordingly.

Handicaps can also play a big role in the best ball golf strategy. If your team consists of players with different handicaps, it might be useful to adjust your game plan based on those handicaps.

For example, if one teammate has a significantly lower handicap than the others, they may be able to play more aggressively without risking too many strokes. It’s important not to get too caught up in trying to outdo your competitors or teammates.

Best ball golf is ultimately a team sport, so even if you personally don’t perform as well as you had hoped in one round or on one hole, it’s important to stay positive and keep working together with your group toward achieving a strong final score. By keeping these strategies in mind while playing best ball golf, you’ll be well-equipped to compete effectively and enjoyably in any type of event or championship.

Check out this video below from Golf Distillery‘s YouTube channel:

Best Ball Golf Tournaments

Tournaments are typically played as team events with two, three, or four golfers on each team. The teams play in groups of two, and the best score from each team on every hole counts toward the overall score.

This means that if your partner scores a birdie on a particular hole and you only manage to get a bogey, your team’s score for that hole will be recorded as a birdie. This is why it is called ‘best ball’, as only the best score from each team counts.

Tournament formats vary depending on the number of participants and the structure of play. Some tournaments may have multiple rounds, while others may be played over just one full round.

The best ball format can also be combined with other tournament formats, such as scramble or traditional play, to create a hybrid tournament. Participants in best ball tournaments can range from amateurs to professional golfers.

It is common for players of different skill levels to form teams so that they can complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Player handicaps are usually taken into account when ranking teams and determining scoring rules for the tournament.

One popular variation of best ball golf tournaments is better ball competitions, where players compete individually but their scores are combined with those of their teammates to create an overall score for the team. Better ball competitions are often used at professional events where individual rankings are important, but you still want to maintain a team sport atmosphere.

Best ball golf tournaments provide an exciting way for golfers to compete in a team sport environment while still maintaining individual performance standards. Whether you’re an amateur golfer looking for some friendly competition or a professional looking to showcase your skills, there’s likely one out there that fits your style of play!

Golfer looking at shot he just hit on golf course


The best ball golf format is an exciting and challenging way to enjoy the game of golf. This style of play allows for enjoyable rounds with friends or competitive tournaments.

The history of this format shows how it has evolved over time and become a popular choice for golfers. Understanding the strategies involved in best ball golf is essential to playing well.

Knowing when to be aggressive and when to play it safe can make all the difference in your score. Also, understanding handicap allowances and how they can affect match play is crucial when playing with less skilled golfers.

Best ball golf tournaments are a fantastic way to showcase your skills in this format and compete against other talented players. The SCGA offers different tournament formats throughout the year that cater to both experienced players and beginners alike.

Overall, whether you prefer traditional play or want to try out new configurations like scramble or medal play, there’s a best ball format that will cater to your playing style. So grab your group of friends or join a tournament and hit the course for some fun-filled rounds of best ball golf!

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