A big issue when it comes to the Ryder Cup foursomes - which ball is used?

Whose Ball Is Used In Foursomes At The Ryder Cup?

The 42nd Ryder Cup takes place at Le Golf National as Team Europe look to regain the trophy after losing it to USA last time out at Hazeltine.

One question on many fans’ lips during the match is always whose ball is used in foursomes?

It’s a big deal as players are so meticulous with their golf ball choice to the extent that it is always the first thing that goes in the bag.

For example, Rory McIlroy revealed that he chose TaylorMade because of the TP5x and Tiger Woods chose Bridgestone because he plays the spinniest golf ball on Tour.

So how would Tiger Woods play with someone that plays a less-spinny ball? And will Tiger Woods play foursomes with Bryson DeChambeau because they both play Bridgestones?

Well, just because players use the same manufacturer of golf ball doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work well together.

Players may prefer to be paired with someone using a different manufacturer’s golf ball in the Ryder Cup because although they are different manufacturers, the balls themselves may have similar characteristics.

This used to be a bigger issue pre-2006, because in 2006 foursomes partners were allowed to change to a different golf ball, and crucially a different compression, on each hole.

This means that in foursomes a player uses their partner’s ball off the tee on par-4s to ensure that their partner gets to hit their own ball into the green, because there is little difference seen in tee shots and more difference seen in how the ball flies on iron shots and reacts when it lands.

For example, if Ian Poulter and Justin Rose were paired together in foursomes, Rose would hit Poulter’s Titleist Pro V1x off the tee to allow Poulter to hit it into the green and vice versa.

This means that Rose would then be putting and chipping with it, something that he will have practised prior to the Ryder Cup and in practice during the week, assuming that Thomas Bjorn would let the players know their foursomes partners in advance.

A big issue pre-2006 was at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills where Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired together in foursomes.

Woods, famous for playing a spinny ball, and Mickelson, who plays a less-spinny model, had to figure out a way of getting the best results from a not-ideal situation.

The pair couldn’t switch between balls on each hole so went with Tiger’s Nike ball because Woods couldn’t use Mickelson’s.

That meant Mickelson had to ‘learn’ it just two days before the event… It didn’t go well.

“I grabbed a couple dozen of his balls, I went off to the side, and tried to learn his golf ball in a four- or five-hour session on one of the other holes, trying to find out how far the ball goes,” Mickelson said.

“It forced me to stop my preparation for the tournament, to stop chipping and putting and sharpening my game in an effort to crash-course learn a whole different golf ball that we were going to be playing.

“And in the history of my career, I have never ball-tested two days prior to a major. I’ve never done it. Had we known a month in advance, we might have been able to make it work. I think we probably would have made it work. But we didn’t know until two days prior.”

They lost 1 down to Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood. That was the last match they played together.

Another issue surrounding golf balls in foursomes at the Ryder Cup came in 2010 at Celtic Manor, when Rickie Fowler dropped a Titleist Pro V1x on the 4th hole whilst playing with Jim Furyk after the pair found trouble.

Jim Furyk consoles Rickie Fowler after he cost them the hole for dropping a Titleist ball when the pair began the hole using a Srixon

The problem was that the team began the hole playing Furyk’s Srixon Z Star-X.

They lost the hole and ultimately halved the match with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.

USA went on to lose the trophy by a single point.

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