Rule 23 - Four-Ball

Purpose of Rule: Rule 23 covers Four-Ball (played either in match play or stroke play), where partners compete as a side with each playing a separate ball. The side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the partners on that hole.

23.1 Overview of Four-Ball

Four-BallFour-Ball: A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole. is a form of play (in either match playMatch Play: A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds: or stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.) involving partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. where:

Rules 1-20 apply to this form of play, as modified by these specific Rules.

A variation of this is a form of match playMatch Play: A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds: known as Best-Ball, where an individual player competes against a sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. of two or three partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. and each partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. plays his or her own ball under the Rules, as modified by these specific Rules. (For Best-Ball with three partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. on a sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play., each reference to the other partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. means the other two partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.).

23.2  Scoring in Four-Ball

a. Side’s Score for Hole in Match Play and Stroke Play

b. Side’s Scorecard in Stroke Play

(1) Side’s Responsibility. The side’sSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. gross scores for each hole must be entered on a single scorecardScorecard: The document where a player’s score for each hole is entered in stroke play. and, in a handicap competition, each partner’sPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. handicap must be entered on the scorecardScorecard: The document where a player’s score for each hole is entered in stroke play..

For each hole:

Only one partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. needs to certify the hole scores on the side’sSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. scorecardScorecard: The document where a player’s score for each hole is entered in stroke play. under Rule 3.3b(2).

(2) Committee’s Responsibility. The CommitteeCommittee: The person or group in charge of the competition or the course. is responsible for deciding which score counts for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. on each hole, including applying any handicaps in a handicap competition:

If the score that counts for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. is not clearly identified as the score of the individual partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. who made it or if that partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. is disqualified relating to the play of the hole, the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. is disqualified.

c. Exception to Rule 11.2 in Four-Ball

Rule 11.2 does not apply in this situation:

When a player’s partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. has already completed the hole and the player's ball in motion needs to be holedHoled: When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green.  to lower the side's score for the hole by one stroke, if any person deliberately deflects or stops the ball at a time when there is no reasonable chance it can be holedHoled: When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green., there is no penalty to that person and the player’s ball does not count for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play..

23.3  When Round Starts and Ends; When Hole Is Completed

a. When Round Starts

A side’sSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. starts when one of the partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. to start his or her first hole.

b. When Round Ends

A side’sSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. ends:

c. When Hole is Completed

(1) Match Play. A sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. has completed a hole when both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. have holed outHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: or had their next strokesStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. conceded or either sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. has conceded the hole.

(2) Stroke Play. A sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. has completed a hole when one of the partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. has holed outHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: and the other partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. has either holed outHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played: or chooses not to do so.

23.4  One or Both Partners May Represent the Side

The sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. may be represented by one partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. during all or any part of a roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee.. It is not necessary for both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. to be present or, if present, for both to play on each hole.

If a partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. is absent and then arrives to play, that partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may start play for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. only between the play of two holes, which means:

An arriving partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. who is not allowed to play on a hole may still give adviceAdvice: Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in: or help to the other partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. and take other actions for the other partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. on that hole (see Rules 23.5a and 23.5b).

Penalty for Breach of Rule 23.4: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

23.5  Player’s Actions Affecting Partner’s Play

a. Player Allowed to Take Any Actions Concerning Partner’s Ball That Partner May Take

Although each player on a sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. must play his or her own ball:

In stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition., partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. must not agree with each other to leave a ball in place on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that: to help either of them or any other player (see Rule 15.3a).

b. Partner Is Responsible for Player’s Actions

Any action taken by the player concerning the partner’sPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. ball or equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie. is treated as having been taken by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play..

If the player’s action would breach a Rule if taken by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.:

This also applies to actions by the player’s caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways: concerning the partner’sPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. ball that would breach a Rule if taken by the partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. or partner’sPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:.

If the actions of the player or the player’s caddieCaddie: Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways: affect the play of both the player’s own ball and the partner’sPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. ball, see Rule 23.8a(2) to find out when there is a penalty for both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play..

23.6  Side’s Order of Play

PartnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may play in the order the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. considers best.

This means that when it is a player’s turn to play under Rule 6.4a (match playMatch Play: A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds:) or 6.4b (stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.), either the player or his or her partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. may play next.

Exception – Continuing Play of Hole After Stroke Conceded in Match Play:

23.7  Partners May Share Clubs

Rule 4.1b(2) is modified to allow partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. to share clubs, so long as the total number of clubs they have together is not more than 14.

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

When a player gets a penalty for breach of a Rule, the penalty may apply either to that player alone or to both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. (that is, to the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.). This depends on the penalty and the form of play:

a. Penalties Other Than Disqualification

(1) Penalty Normally Applies Only to Player, Not Partner. When a player gets a penalty other than disqualification, that penalty normally applies only to the player and not also to his or her partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play., except in the situations covered by (2).

(2) Three Situations Where Player’s Penalty Also Applies to Partner.

Exception – Player Who Makes Stroke at Wrong Ball Is Not Treated as Having Helped Partner ‘s Play or Hurt Opponent’s Play:

b. Disqualification Penalties

(1) When Breach by One Partner Means Side Is Disqualified. A sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. is disqualified if either partnerPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. gets a penalty of disqualification under any of these Rules:

Match Play Only:

  • Rule 3.2c Applying Handicaps in Handicap Match

Stroke Play Only:

(2) When Breach by Both Partners Means Side Is Disqualified. A sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. is disqualified if both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. get a penalty of disqualification under any of these Rules:

Stroke Play Only:

A sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. is disqualified if, at the same hole, both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. get penalties of disqualification under any combination of these Rules:

(3) When Breach by One Player Means Only That the Player Has No Valid Score for Hole. In all other situations where a player breaches a Rule with a penalty of disqualification, the player is not disqualified but his or her score on the hole where the breach happened cannot count for the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play..

In match playMatch Play: A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds:, if both partnersPartner: A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play. breach such a Rule on the same hole, the sideSide: Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play. loses the hole.