How to Play a Fourball Alliance Golf Tournament

The format goes by several other well-known names

Four golfers on a green at Tamarron Hilton Resort
4-Ball Alliance is a format for teams of four golfers. Tony Roberts/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

"Fourball alliance" (it's often spelled "four-ball alliance"or "4-ball alliance") is the name of a golf tournament format, and whether the name "fourball alliance" is familiar to you or not, the format probably is, because it is a format known by different names around the golfing world.

For example:

    Fourball alliance is a well-traveled format. Now, let's explain how it works.

    How the Fourball Alliance Format Works

    The first two things to know about a fourball alliance tournament:

    • The teams consist of four golfers each. Hence, the name (there are four golf balls in play for each team).
    • And this format is typically played using Stableford scoring.

    Each golfer on a team plays his or her own golf ball throughout. Just normal golf. Play the first hole, record your score.

    Here's the key point about the team's score: On each hole, a predetermined number of team members' scores are combined for one team score.

    Most commonly, the best two scores among the four team members are combined. So let's say that on the first hole, the scores of the four team members are 0, 0, 1 and 2 (remember, fourball alliance is usually played with Stableford points for scoring). The 1 and the 2 are the two best scores, so the team score is 3 (1 plus 2).

    If fourball alliance is played as standard stroke play, and team members' scores are 4, 5, 6 and 7, the team score is 9 (4 plus 5) on that hole.

    Variations in Computing the Team Score

    We used a simple example in which the best two scores among the four golfers on a team are combined on every hole for the team score.

    But there are other variations that can be used to compute a team score.

    For example, on the first hole use the one low score; on the second hole combine the two low scores; on the third hole combine the three low scores. And then start that rotation over on the fourth hole (one low score).

    Above we listed a few alternate names for fourball alliance; you can find other potential scorekeeping options by checking out some of those definitions.