Ryder Cup 2023 format: Fourballs and foursomes explained

Team Europe and USA are battling it out for Ryder Cup glory. (Getty Images)
Team Europe and USA are battling it out for Ryder Cup glory. (Getty Images)

The Ryder Cup is one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world and it stands apart from a number of the sport’s biggest events by putting the elite players in a team environment rather than simply playing for themselves.

The Biennial contest comprises three different forms of match-play golf which are played across three days with five different sessions.

Four of the sessions are played across the opening two days of the tournament and the participants will take part in two games of both foursomes and fourball golf. While the final day is one session of 12 singles matches.

But what is the meaning of foursomes and fourball golf and how does the tournament work?

Here is all you need to know.

What is fourball golf?

Fourball golf consists of a pair of players from each side playing in one group and each player playing their own ball. It is named because there are four balls on the course at one time.

At the end of each hole the best score from each pair is counted to decide whether the hole goes to Team Europe or Team USA or whether it is halved.

What is foursomes golf?

Foursomes golf features a pair of players from each side as we see in fourball golf, but instead of playing their own ball the two teams take alternate shots with the same ball.

This form of golf can create confusion over whose ball is used as each player typically will use a particular ball when they are on Tour.

How Ryder Cup matches are played and scored

Ryder Cup matches are competed over three days in a format called match play. Team captains from Europe and USA will select players to compete in each match. Scores on each hole are recorded as all square or even when the players tie. Otherwise, the score is 1-up or 1-down with the lower scorer being up by the difference in strokes.

Overall 28 matches are played during this year’s tournament in Rome. Each victory is worth one point, and each tie is worth a half point in the overall standings. To win the Ryder Cup a team must surpass the 14 point mark, if the scores finish level at 14-14 then the reigning champions from the previous tournament will automatically take the cup.

There are eight fourballs and eight foursomes matches across Friday and Saturday before 12 singles matches on Sunday.