Rules Review – Four-Ball Match Play

Rules to Remember

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Since it’s Ryder Cup weekend, let’s discuss a very popular form of play in women’s golf and a huge part of the Ryder Cup format: Four-Ball Match Play.  As always, we’ll start with the definition: A four-ball match is a match in which two players play their better ball against the better ball of two other players. Often times this format is referred to as “better ball” or “best ball.”  Most ladies’ interclub leagues have a four-ball match play format, so you have likely played this format before. Below are a few Rules to remember when playing your next four-ball match.

Putting Out After Concession of Stroke – If your next stroke has been conceded, you are entitled to putt out if you would like. HOWEVER, in four-ball match play, if putting out would assist your partner in any way (help them read the line, for example), you are not entitled to putt out. If you do, your partner is disqualified for the hole. (Decision 2-4/6)

Representation of Side – Is your partner running late? No problem, play away. A side may be represented by one partner for all or any part of the match. Furthermore, an absent partner may join a match between holes, but not during the play of a hole. (Rule 30-3a)

Order of Play – Balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order the side considers best. This means that if your partner has a shorter putt for par and you have a longer putt for birdie on the same line, your partner can putt out first to give you a look at the line (but be careful – if your opponents decide to concede the shorter putt, your partner can’t putt out). (Rule 30-3b)

Advice – Players can give and receive advice from their partner or from either of their caddies. (Rule 8-1)

Player Plays Partner’s Ball – In four-ball match play, if a player plays the wrong ball he is disqualified for the hole. If that wrong ball happens to be his partner’s ball, his partner incurs no penalty and he must place a ball on the spot from which the wrong ball was played and play from there. (Rule 30-3c)

Breach of Rule Assists Partner – If a player’s breach of a Rule assists his partner’s play or adversely affects an opponent’s play, the partner incurs the applicable penalty in addition to any penalty incurred by the player. For example, let’s pretend that A and B are partners and they both lie in the same bunker. A picks up and moves several pine cones (loose impediments) in the bunker that are between both of their balls and the green. As you know from a previous Rules Review, this is a breach of Rule 23. Player A is disqualified for the hole because she moved loose impediments in a bunker. AND, because Player A’s action ASSISTS Player B (the pine cones were between BOTH of their balls), Player B is now also disqualified for the hole. With both players disqualified for the hole, the side will automatically lose the hole. (Rule 30-3f, Decision 30-3f/1)

Make sure to check back next week for another Rules Review!
Questions about four-ball match play? Email Maggie.

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