(Photo and event information courtesy of USGA)
The USGA (United States Golf Association) oversees a series of championships over the course of each season. This weekend, an international field of 2-man teams are competing in the U.S. Amateur Four Ball Championship in Pinehurst, NC. The event is from May 27 – May 31. The first two days are stroke play to trim the field to 32 teams. At that point, it becomes match play.
So, what id four ball? According the USGA’s Rules of Golf, four-ball stroke play is:
“a competition in which two competitors play as partners, each playing his own ball. The lower score of the partners is the score for the hole. If one partner fails to complete the play of the hole, there is no penalty.”
There are 126 2-man teams participating. That’s a lot of competitors.
The scoring is four ball throughout the event. Thirty six holes of stroke play will determine the low 32 scores. After that, the format is match play to determine the champion side.
This year at Pinehurst, there are two teams with Buckeye connections. They are Clark Engle-Will Grimmer and the Brothers Wetterich, Daniel and Matthew. Clark, Will and Daniel play at Ohio State while Matthew golfs for Xavier. All four players hail from Ohio (Grimmer, the Wetterich’s from Cincinnati and Engle from Springfield). Pretty solid Buckeye state credentials right there.
Okay, that gives you a rough idea of what’s going on; how did our Ohioans do? Quite well during the stroke play qualifier. In fact, Engle-Grimmer were medalists, their two round score of 129 (-12) edged the side of Wilson Furr-Davis Shore by one stroke. This allowed Engle-Grimmer to sit as the top seed in match play.
The Wetterichs did well for themselves. Their score of 137 (-4) placed them in a seven-way tie for 15th position.
Clark and Will got their opening round off to a fast start; after parring their opening hole, they ran off 4 consecutive birdies, five in six holes and closed with a front nine of 31 (-5). Their back nine was more sedate with 1 birdie/8 pars for a 35 (-1) and a round of 65 (-6).
Their 2nd round mirrored their 1st round; 5 birdies on their front nine and 1 birdie/8 pars on their back nine for another round of -6 to par.
Daniel and Matthew cruised along with an even par (71) opening round consisting of 1 birdie, 1 bogey and 16 pars. Not bad, but if they wanted to advance, they’d have to step up their game.
Wouldn’t you know it, they eventually did. On their second round, an early bogey, hole #2, darkened their outlook a bit but 2 front nine birdies got them to under par for the round and 3 birdies on the back nine got them comfortably into the top 32 sides.
Four ball match play is a great format. I’ve played it on numerous occasions and enjoyed playing every match. Just a few observations:
There is some “risk-reward” strategy in the play of a hole; do I play it safe while you try to cut the dogleg? A lot of in-round gaming goes on.
The team mates need to have complimentary styles of play and be psychologically compatible.
Way-back-when, before our matches, my partner and I were very clear with one another; regardless of outcome of a shot, there were to be no apologies offered. When one of us would hit a not so good shot, we’d put it behind us and move on to the next shot.
Round of 32 match play begins today (Monday). I’ll have match recaps/notes later today. Please stop back.