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

what is better ball in golf
what is better 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 “Better Ball”.

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

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

What Is “Better Ball” In Golf?

In golf, “Better Ball” is a 2-golfer-per-group tournament scoring format in which every group member plays their own ball, but the group only keeps the best score. 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 “Better Ball” is sometimes mentioned on golf courses and on TV broadcasts, most notably in tournaments.

In golf, the expression “Better Ball” is the name given to a specific playing format that pits groups of 2 golfers against each other. To make the comparison of scores between groups easier, each group only has one score, the “Better” score.

“Better Ball” is a scoring format in golf that is typically used in some tournaments with groups of 2. In “Better 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 better score for each hole among those scored by the group’s individual members.

In “Better Ball”, each team of 2 golfers ultimately compare their scores against the scores of every other team in the tournament. When everyone finished playing, the team with the lowest “Better Score” wins the tournament.

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

Naturally, as “Better Ball” retains for the group the better scores among those score by multiple golfers, the group’s score is generally lower than the usual scores each individual golfer would score alone.

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 teammate 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 “Better Ball” tournament.


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

On hole #5, Andy, and Bob respectively scored +2, and -2.

Since the best score among the group members is -2, a score held by Bob, the group’s score for hole #5 is -2.

As you can see in the example above, in “Better Ball”, it is possible for a great golf player to carry a weaker player 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 “Better 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 “Better Ball” score, rather than just being active bystanders in a tournament.

The “Better Ball” golf tournament format also has the great added bonus of fostering a great sense of team spirit and camaraderie between the 2 members of a group. This playing format can be great to play as a team building activity, or even potentially for a romantic date.

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

Origin Of The Term “Better Ball”

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

In the “Better Ball” playing format, teams of golfers literally choose as their group score the score of the ball with the score that is “better” than all the others.

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

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


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

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

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