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Rules of Golf - Rule 30: Three-Ball, Best Ball, Four-Ball Match Play

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The Official Rules of Golf appear on the About.com Golf site courtesy of the USGA, are used with permission, and may not be reprinted without the permission of the USGA.

30-1. General
The Rules of Golf, so far as they are not at variance with the following specific Rules, apply to three-ball, best-ball and four-ball matches.

30-2. Three-Ball Match Play
• a. Ball at Rest Moved or Purposely Touched by an Opponent
If an opponent incurs a penalty stroke under Rule 18-3b, that penalty is incurred only in the match with the player whose ball was touched or moved. No penalty is incurred in his match with the other player.

• b. Ball Deflected or Stopped by an Opponent Accidentally
If a player’s ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by an opponent, his caddie or equipment, there is no penalty. In his match with that opponent the player may, before another stroke is made by either side, cancel the stroke and play a ball, without penalty, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5) or he may play the ball as it lies. In his match with the other opponent, the ball must be played as it lies.

Exception: Ball striking person attending or holding up flagstick or anything carried by him – see Rule 17-3b.

(Ball purposely deflected or stopped by opponent – see Rule 1-2)

30-3. Best-Ball and Four-Ball Match Play
• a. Representation of Side
A side may be represented by one partner for all or any part of a match; all partners need not be present. An absent partner may join a match between holes, but not during play of a hole.

• b. Order of Play
Balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order the side considers best.

• c. Wrong Ball
If a player incurs the loss of hole penalty under Rule 15-3a for making a stroke at a wrong ball, he is disqualified for that hole, but his partner incurs no penalty even if the wrong ball belongs to him. If the wrong ball belongs to another player, its owner must place a ball on the spot from which the wrong ball was first played.

(Placing and Replacing – see Rule 20-3)

• d. Penalty to Side
A side is penalized for a breach of any of the following by any partner:
   -Rule 4 Clubs
   -Rule 6-4 Caddie
   -Any Local Rule or Condition of Competition for which the penalty is an adjustment to the state of the match.

• e. Disqualification of Side
(i) A side is disqualified if any partner incurs a penalty of disqualification under any of the following:
   -Rule 1-3 Agreement to Waive Rules
   -Rule 4 Clubs
   -Rule 5-1 or 5-2 The Ball
   -Rule 6-2a Handicap
   -Rule 6-4 Caddie
   -Rule 6-7 Undue Delay; Slow Play
   -Rule 11-1 Teeing
   -Rule 14-3 Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment
   -Rule 33-7 Disqualification Penalty Imposed by Committee

(ii) A side is disqualified if all partners incur a penalty of disqualification under any of the following:
   -Rule 6-3 Time of Starting and Groups
   -Rule 6-8 Discontinuance of Play

(iii) In all other cases where a breach of a Rule would result in disqualification, the player is disqualified for that hole only.

• f. Effect of Other Penalties
If a player’s breach of a Rule assists his partner’s play or adversely affects an opponent’s play, the partner incurs the applicable penalty in addition to any penalty incurred by the player.

In all other cases where a player incurs a penalty for breach of a Rule, the penalty does not apply to his partner. Where the penalty is stated to be loss of hole, the effect is to disqualify the player for that hole.

©USGA, used with permission

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