How to Play the 4BBB Golf Tournament Format

Group of four golfers on a putting green
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"4BBB" is the name of a golf tournament format, and understanding it is pretty simple so long as you know what "4BBB" stands for: "4-ball, best ball" or "4-ball, better ball."

In a 4BBB tournament, golfers tee off in groups of four, and each golfer plays his own ball throughout. So there are four golf balls in play on each hole, but only one ball (the better ball, or low ball) counts per team per hole.

Four golfers per group in a 4BBB can mean one of two things:

  • two, 2-person teams paired together,
  • or one, 4-person team (2-person teams is more common).

Another way of putting it: 4BBB is usually just another name for a best ball (4-person teams) or better ball (2-person teams) format.

In some parts of the golf world, it is common for 4BBB tournaments to use Stableford scoring.

Playing 4BBB With 2-Person Teams

If two-person teams are in use for the 4BBB tournament (as noted, the most common way to play it), then Team 1 and Team 2 tee off together. Again, that means four golf balls are in play on each hole within the group. And for each team, on each hole, the one low ball - the better score between the two partners - counts as that team's score.

If Golfer A and Golfer B make up Team 1, and on the first hole A scores 5 and B scores 4, 4 is the team score on Hole 1.

With 2-person teams, 4BBB can be played as stroke play or match play.

Playing 4BBB With 4-Person Teams

If four-person teams are in use, then 4BBB works like this:

  • All four golfers tee off and play their own balls into the hole.
  • The low score among the four counts as the team score for that hole.

If, on Hole 1, Golfer A scores 6, B gets a 5, C scores 6 and D makes a 4, then the team score for that hole is 4.

When 4-person teams are in use, 4BBB is played as stroke play.

And with 4-person teams, it's more important to use handicaps and award places based on net scores. Otherwise, the weaker golfers on the team will have very few (if any) opportunities to contribute the team's score on any given hole.

Handicaps in a 4BBB Tournament

There are no rules about how a 4BBB should be handicapped, so, in the end, you'll follow the procedure set forth by tournament organizers.

But in a 4-person best ball, the most common handicap method is this:

  • Men use 80-percent of their course handicap;
  • Women use 90-percent of their course handicap.

For handicap recommendations in a 4BBB using 2-person teams, see our definition of better ball.