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Rules of Golf - Rule 31: Four-Ball Stroke 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.

31-1. General
The Rules of Golf, so far as they are not at variance with the following specific Rules, apply to four-ball stroke play.

31-2. Representation of Side
A side may be represented by either partner for all or any part of a stipulated round; both partners need not be present. An absent competitor may join his partner between holes, but not during play of a hole.

31-3. Scoring
The marker is required to record for each hole only the gross score of whichever partner’s score is to count. The gross scores to count must be individually identifiable; otherwise, the side is disqualified. Only one of the partners need be responsible for complying with Rule 6-6b.

(Wrong score – see Rule 31-7a)

31-4. Order of Play
Balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order the side considers best.

31-5. Wrong Ball
If a competitor is in breach of Rule 15-3b for making a stroke at a wrong ball, he incurs a penalty of two strokes and must correct his mistake by playing the correct ball or by proceeding under the Rules. His partner incurs no penalty, even if the wrong ball belongs to him.

If the wrong ball belongs to another competitor, its owner must place a ball on the spot from which the wrong ball was first played.

(Placing and Replacing – see Rule 20-3)


31-6. 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 there is a maximum penalty per round.

31-7. Disqualification Penalties
• a. Breach by One Partner
A side is disqualified from the competition if either partner incurs a penalty of disqualification under any of the following:
   -Rule 1-3 Agreement to Waive Rules
   -Rule 3-4 Refusal to Comply with a Rule
   -Rule 4 Clubs
   -Rule 5-1 or 5-2 The Ball
   -Rule 6-2b Handicap
   -Rule 6-4 Caddie
   -Rule 6-6b Signing and Returning Score Card
   -Rule 6-6d Wrong Score for Hole
   -Rule 6-7 Undue Delay; Slow Play
   -Rule 7-1 Practice Before or Between Rounds
   -Rule 10-2c Sides Agree to Play Out of Turn
   -Rule 11-1 Teeing
   -Rule 14-3 Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment
   -Rule 22-1 Ball Assisting Play
   -Rule 31-3 Gross Scores to Count Not Individually Identifiable
   -Rule 33-7 Disqualification Penalty Imposed by Committee

• b. Breach by Both Partners
A side is disqualified from the competition:

(i) if each partner incurs a penalty of disqualification for a breach of Rule 6-3 (Time of Starting and Groups) or Rule 6-8 (Discontinuance of Play), or
(ii) if, at the same hole, each partner is in breach of a Rule the penalty for which is disqualification from the competition or for a hole.

• c. For the Hole Only
In all other cases where a breach of a Rule would result in disqualification, the competitor is disqualified only for the hole at which the breach occurred.

31-8. Effect of Other Penalties
If a competitor’s breach of a Rule assists his partner’s play, the partner incurs the applicable penalty in addition to any penalty incurred by the competitor.

In all other cases where a competitor incurs a penalty for breach of a Rule, the penalty does not apply to his partner.

©USGA, used with permission

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