3 ball golf explained

3-ball golf, also known as 3-ball match play, is a popular golf format that involves playing in groups of three. Instead of playing against the entire field like you would in stroke play, you only play directly against the other two members of your group.

How Does 3 Ball Golf Work?

In 3 ball golf, all three players play their ball throughout the round. You get 1 point on each hole if you have the lowest score out of the three players. If two players tie for low scores, they get half a point. The player with the highest total points at the end of the 18 holes wins the match.

So in essence, you are playing two head-to-head matches at the same time – one against player A and one against player B. The scoring format leads to strategic play decisions as you try to beat at least one of your two opponents on every hole.

3 ball golf

What are the Benefits of 3 Ball Golf?

Faster Pace of Play – With three players instead of four, groups tend to move around the course faster as there is one less player to wait on.

More Interesting Than Stroke Play – The match play format creates a more compelling “player vs player” experience. You get excited to win holes instead of shooting the lowest score possible.

Good for Practice – Playing directly against others can sharpen your competitive instincts and accountability to play your best the entire round.

Ideal for Match Betting – Putting some friendly wagers on the outcome makes 3-ball golf even more engaging. Bet an amount per point or bet who will win each match.

Overall, the head-to-head style and smaller group sizes make 3-ball golf a fun alternative to traditional stroke play formats. It brings strategy, competition, and a quicker pace to your round.

Tips for Playing 3-Ball Golf

Here are some quick tips when competing in a 3-ball golf match:

  • Be ready to hit when it’s your turn and keep pace with the others
  • Study your opponents’ games and attack their weaknesses
  • Know when to play aggressively or conservatively based on hole and match status
  • Don’t get flustered by bad holes, stay patient and stick to your game
  • Use strategy on tee shots based on opponent driving distances/accuracy
  • Make lots of putts – winning holes comes down to scoring, not just long shots

So grab two friends and set up a 3 ball golf match. The competitive format will bring out your best golf and provide a great test on the course.

By Lana

Lana Lana has been swinging a golf club for close to 30 years. After playing Division 1 College golf, she went on to turn professional and coach hundreds of golfers to become better players. Lana lives in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children and continues to write, teach, and learn about golf daily. As a scratch golfer, Lana has actionable tips and advice to help you take your game to the next level without over complicating it.

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