What Is “Best Ball” In Golf? – Explained!

what is best ball in golf

Golf is known to be a technical sport full of technical terms that you may not know the meaning of. One of those golf terms sometimes mentioned on golf courses and TV broadcasts is the expression “Best Ball”.

If you are reading this article, you may wonder: What exactly is “Best Ball” in golf?

In this article, we will explain to you exactly what the term “Best Ball” means in golf.

What Is “Best Ball” In Golf?

In golf, “Best Ball” is a group tournament scoring format in which every group member plays their own ball, but the group only keeps the best score. In other words, the group’s score for each hole is equal to the best score for each hole scored by the groups’ individual members.

In the great game of golf, the expression “Best Ball” is sometimes mentioned on golf courses and on TV broadcasts, most notably in tournaments.

In golf, the expression “Best Ball” is the name given to a specific playing format that pits groups of golfers against each other. To make the comparison of scores between groups easier, each group only has one score, the “Best” score.

“Best Ball” is a scoring format in golf that is typically used in some tournaments with groups of 2 to 4 golfers. In “Best Ball”, each member of a group plays their own ball on every hole, but the group only keeps the best score for each hole as the score of the group.

In other words, the group’s score for each individual hole is equal to the best score for each hole scored by the group’s individual members.

The “Best Ball” playing format in golf is most often used for stroke play, but it can also be used in match play. The “Best Ball” playing format is very similar to the “Better Ball” playing format.

At the end of a “Best Ball” tournament, the team with the lowest score and beats the other teams and wins.

Naturally, as “Best Ball” retains for the group the best scores among multiple golfers, the group’s score is generally lower than the usual scores each individual golfer would score.

The only way the group’s score can be equal to an individual golfer’s score is if one individual golfer in the group scores better than or equal to his teammates on every single hole.

Down below, you can read about a real-world example of a group figuring out what their score is for a particular golf hole in a “Best Ball” tournament.

Example:

Andy, Bob, and Cam are teammates in a “Best Ball” tournament.

On hole #3, Andy, Bob, and Cam respectively scored +4, -1 and +1.

Since the best score among the group members is -1, a score held by Bob, the group’s score for hole #3 is -1.

As you can see in the example above, in “Best Ball”, it is possible for a great golf player to carry weaker players to victory in a tournament.

Therefore, if you have a large gathering of friends with various skill levels, or want to organize your own golf tournament, using the “Best Ball” playing format can be great.

By putting one of the better players in each group, the weaker players can still feel like they have a chance of winning the tournament.

In addition, you could also incorporate a handicap system so that the weaker players also have a chance to contribute to the “Best Ball” score, rather than just being active bystanders in a tournament.

The “Best Ball” golf tournament format also has the great added bonus of fostering a great sense of team spirit and camaraderie between the members of a group. This playing format can be great to play as a team building activity.

You can actually find the “Best Ball” playing format in certain professional golf tournaments, such as the Ryder Cup. In the case of the Ryder Cup, which uses 2-player groups with match play rules, the “Best Ball” format has a special name: “Four Ball”.

The term “Four Ball” comes from the fact that there are four golf balls and 4 players in play when 2 groups are up against each other in this format.

If you would like to have the “Best Ball” in your group more often, you can read our guide: How To Improve Your Golf Score? – 9 Pro Tips.

Origin Of The Term “Best Ball”

The origin of the expression “Best Ball” in golf is extremely simple.

In the “Best Ball” playing format, teams of golfers literally choose as their group score the score of the ball with the best score.

For example, if 2 golfers in a same group respectively scored +3 and +1 for a given golf hole, then the best ball is the ball that scored +1, which is a better score than +3.

Therefore, in the “Best Ball” golf playing format, groups literally pick the “best-scoring balls” as their group score. This reason is why the “Best Ball” playing format is called the way it is.

Conclusion

There you go! After reading this article, you have learned exactly what “Best Ball” means in golf.

Do you have any other golf expressions you wish to know more about? Do you like playing the “Best Ball” playing format in golf? Let us know in the comments down below!