Rule 23 - Four-Ball

23.2  Scoring in Four-Ball

23.2a/1 – Result of Hole When No Ball Is Correctly Holed Out

In Four-Ball match play, if no player completes a hole, the side whose player is last to pick up or be disqualified from the hole wins the hole.

For example, side A-B are playing against side C-D in a Four-Ball match. On a given hole, by mistake Player A plays Player C’s ball and then Player C plays Player A’s ball and each hole out with that ball. Player B and Player D both play into penalty areas and pick up. During play of the next hole, Player A and Player C determine that both of them played a wrong ball on the prior hole.

The ruling is that Player A and Player C are disqualified for the prior hole. Therefore, if Player B picked up before Player D, side C-D won the hole and if Player D picked up before Player B, side A-B won the hole. If it cannot be determined which player picked up first, the Committee should rule that the hole was tied.

23.2b/1 – Score for Hole Must Be Identified to the Correct Partner

In Four-Ball stroke play, partners are required to return a scorecard with correct hole scores that are identified to the correct partner. The following are examples of scoring in Four-Ball based on how the scorecard is completed and returned by side A-B:

23.2b/2 – Application of Exception to Rule 3.3b(3) for Returning Incorrect Scorecard

The following situations illustrate how Rule 3.3b(3) (Wrong Score for Hole) and Rule 23.2b are to be applied. In all cases, side A-B returns a scorecard with an incorrect score on a hole and the mistake is discovered after the scorecard is returned but before the competition has closed.

23.4  One or Both Partners May Represent the Side

23.4/1 – Determining Handicap Allowance in Match Play If One Player Unable to Compete

If, in a Four-Ball match played under handicap, the player with the lowest handicap is unable to play, the absent player is not disregarded given that he or she may start play for the side between the play of two holes, which in match play means only before any player on either side has started play of a hole.

The handicap strokes are calculated as if all four players are present. If a wrong handicap is declared for the absent player, Rule 3.2c(1) (Declaring Handicaps) applies.

23.5  Player’s Actions Affecting Partner’s Play

23.5a/1 – Actions of Shared Caddie May Result in Penalty for Both Partners

When partners in Four-Ball share a caddie and the caddie’s breach of a Rule cannot be assigned to one particular partner, both partners are penalized.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. Partners A and B share a caddie and that caddie accidentally moves Player C’s or Player D’s ball other than during search without specific direction from either Player A or Player B. The caddie has breached Rule 9.5b (Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move), but there is no way to assign the penalty to one particular partner of the side. Therefore, both Player A and Player B get one penalty stroke.

23.6  Side’s Order of Play

23.6/1 – Abandoning Right to Play in Any Order Side Determines Best

In a Four-Ball match, if a side states or implies that the player on that side whose ball is farthest from the hole will not complete the hole, that player has abandoned his or her right to complete the hole, and the side may not change that decision after an opponent has played.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. All four balls are on the putting green with Player A, Player B and Player D lying two while Player C lies four. The balls of Player A and Player C are about 10 feet from the hole, Player B’s ball is two feet away and Player D’s ball is three feet away. Player C picks up. Player A suggests that Player B and Player D should play.

After Player D plays, Player A has abandoned the right to play and his or her score cannot count for the side (for example, if Player B missed his or her putt). The outcome would be different if Player B had been farther from the hole than Player D. If Player B putts first and misses, Player A would still have the right to complete the hole if he or she does so before Player D plays.

23.6/2 – Partners Must Not Unreasonably Delay Play When Playing in Advantageous Order

Examples of situations where the partners of side A-B play in an order they determine is best but may get a penalty under Rule 5.6a for unreasonably delaying play include when:

23.6/3 – When Side in Match Play May Have Stroke Cancelled by Opponent

When both players of a side play from outside the teeing area in a Four-Ball match, only the last stroke played may be cancelled under Rule 6.1b.

For example, in a four-ball match with side A-B playing side C-D, if Player A and Player B both play from outside the teeing area with Player A playing first followed by Player B, side C-D may cancel the stroke of Player B, but not Player A.

Rule 6.1b requires that cancelling the stroke must be done promptly. This also applies if Player A and Player B both played when it was either Player C’s turn or Player D’s turn to play during play of the hole.

23.7  Partners May Share Clubs

23.7/1 – Partners May Continue to Give Advice and Share Clubs After Concurrent Match Ends

When concurrent Four-Ball and single matches are being played, the two players of a side are no longer partners after the Four-Ball match ends. However, the two players that were partners are still allowed to give each other advice and share clubs for the remainder of both single matches.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match with concurrent single matches of Player A playing Player C and Player B playing Player D, both matches of 18 holes. Player A and Player B are sharing clubs, all 14 of which Player A brought. If the Four-Ball match ends on the 16th hole, but both single matches are tied, Player A and Player B may continue to use the clubs they selected for play (the shared clubs) and give advice to each other, despite Player A and Player B no longer being partners.

23.8  When Penalty Applies to One Partner Only or Applies to Both Partners

23.8a(2)/1 – Examples of When Player’s Breach Helps Partner’s Play

In both Four-Ball match play and stroke play, when a player’s breach of a Rule helps his or her partner, the partner gets the same penalty.

Examples of when both partners of side A-B get the same penalty include:

23.8a(2)/2 – Example of When Player’s Breach Hurts Opponent’s Play

In Four-Ball match play, if a player’s breach of a Rule hurts an opponent’s play, the player’s partner also gets the same penalty.

For example, side A-B are playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. Player A provides the wrong number of strokes he or she has taken to either Player C or Player D while all four players are in contention during a hole. Side C-D bases its strategy on this information and one of them makes a stroke.

Player A gets the general penalty under Rule 3.2d(1) (Telling Opponent about Number of Strokes Taken) for not giving the right number of strokes taken. Player B gets the same penalty because the breach hurt an opponent’s play. Side A-B therefore loses the hole.

23.8a(2)/3 – Giving Wrong Number of Strokes Taken or Failing to Tell Opponent about Penalty Is Never Considered to Hurt Opponent When Player Is Out of Contention

When a player in a Four-Ball match is out of contention on a hole and he or she either gives the wrong number of strokes taken or fails to notify an opponent about a penalty, it is never considered to hurt the opponent’s play since the player’s score on the hole will not be relevant in the match.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. Player A has taken 3 strokes, Player B 5 strokes, Player C 4 strokes, and Player D has already picked up. Player B causes his or her ball to move and gets one penalty stroke under Rule 9.4. Player B does not tell anyone that he or she got a penalty, replaces the ball and makes the stroke. Player A and Player C then both hole out for scores of 5. Since B failed to tell side C-D about the penalty, he or she is disqualified from the hole under Rule 3.2d. But, since Player B’s score had no relevance in the outcome of that hole (on the basis that B scored more than 5, C holed his or her next stroke for a 5 and D had picked up), the breach did not hurt Player C or Player D. Therefore, Player A gets no penalty.