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Purpose: Rule 23 covers Four-Ball (played either in match play or stroke play), where you and your partner compete as a side with each of you playing a separate ball. Your side's score for a hole is the lower score of the two of you on that hole.

Overview of Four-Ball

Four-Ball is a form of play (in either match play or stroke play) involving partners where you and your partner compete together as a side, with each of you playing your own ball, and your side's score for a hole is the lower score of the two of you on that hole.

Scoring in Four-Ball


Your Side’s Score for Hole in Match Play and Stroke Play

  • When both partners hole out or otherwise complete the hole under the Rules, the lower score is your side's score for the hole.
  • When only one partner holes out or otherwise completes the hole under the Rules, that partner's score is your side's score for the hole. The other partner does not need to hole out.
  • When neither partner holes out or otherwise does not complete the hole under the Rules, your side does not have a score for that hole, which means:
    • In match play, your side loses the hole, unless the opposing side already had conceded or otherwise lost the hole.
    • In stroke play, your side is disqualified unless the mistake is corrected in time.

Your Side’s Scorecard in Stroke Play

Your side's gross scores for each hole must be entered on a single scorecard and, in a handicap competition, each partner's handicap must be entered on the scorecard. For each hole:
  • The gross score of at least one partner must be entered on your scorecard.
  • There is no penalty for entering more than one partner's score on the scorecard.
  • Each score on the scorecard must be clearly identified as the score of the individual partner who made it; if this is not done, your side is disqualified.
Only one partner needs to certify the hole scores on the side's scorecard.

Exception to Rule 11.2 in Four-Ball

See Full Rules For information on when Rule 11.2 does not apply in Four-Ball.

When Round Starts and Ends; When Hole Is Completed

See Full Rules For information on when a round starts and ends and when a hole is completed in Four-Ball.

One or Both Partners May Represent Your Side

Your side may be represented by one partner during all or any part of a round. It is not necessary for both you and your partner to be present or, if present, for both to play on each hole.

Your Actions Affecting Your Partner’s Play


You Are Allowed to Take Any Action Concerning Your Partner’s Ball That Your Partner May Take

Although you and your partner each play your own ball:
  • You may take any action concerning your partner's ball that your partner is allowed to take before making a stroke, such as to mark the spot of the ball and lift, replace, drop and place the ball.
  • You and your caddie may help your partner in any way that your partner's caddie is allowed to help.
In stroke play, you and your partner must not agree to leave a ball in place on the putting green to help either of you or any other player.

Your Partner Is Responsible for Your Actions

Any action taken by you concerning your partner's ball or equipment is treated as having been taken by your partner. If your action would breach a Rule if taken by the partner, your partner is in breach of the Rule and gets the resulting penalty.

Your Side’s Order of Play

You and your partner may play in the order your side considers best. This means that when it is your turn to play, either you or your partner may play next. Exception - Continuing Play of Hole After Stroke Conceded in Match Play:
  • You must not continue play of a hole after your next stroke has been conceded if this would help your partner.
  • If you do so, your score for the hole stands without penalty, but your partner's score for the hole cannot count for your side.

Partners May Share Clubs

You and your partner are allowed to share clubs, so long as the total number of clubs you have together is not more than 14.

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


Penalties Other Than Disqualification

When you get a penalty other than disqualification, that penalty normally applies only to you and not also to your partner. In match play, if you get the general penalty (loss of hole) , you have no score that can count for your side on that hole; but this penalty has no effect on your partner, who may continue to play for your side on that hole. There are three situations where your penalty also applies to your partner:
  1. When you breach Rule 4.1b (Limit of 14 Clubs; Shared, Added or Replaced Clubs).
  2. When your breach helps your partner's play.
  3. In match play, when your breach hurts your opponent's play.
Exception - If You Make a Stroke at Wrong Ball, it is Not Treated as Having Helped Your Partner's Play or Hurt Your Opponent's Play.

Disqualification Penalties

See Full Rules For information on disqualification penalties in Four-Ball.
Rule 1The Game, Player Conduct and the Rules
Purpose: Rule 1 introduces these central principles of the game: Play the course as you find it and play your ball as it lies. Play by the Rules ...
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