How to Play a Devil Ball (or Money Ball) Golf Tournament

Format goes by many other names, including Pink Ball, Lone Ranger

Illustration of a devil playing golf
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The golf tournament format named Devil Ball or Money Ball is one of the formats that goes by the most different names. The format puts the onus on one golfer per whole, who must come through for the team.

Depending on where it's played, and by whom, this format is also called:

  • Lone Ranger
  • Yellow Ball
  • Pink Ball
  • Pink Lady

There are even more names out there, but no matter what you call it the most-important factor in Devil Ball is this: On every hole, one designated golfer on the team must contribute his score to the team score. The designated golfer's score is combined with the low score from among the other team members to form the team score. The designated golfer rotates from hole to hole, so that every golfer gets put on the spot every fourth hole.

Example of Scoring During Devil Ball/Money Ball

Devil Ball is typically played with 4-person teams. On each hole, one golfer's golf ball is called the "devil ball" (or money ball or pink ball or whatever matches the name in use).

The golfers rotate as the devil ball player: Golfer A on Hole 1, B on 2, C on 3, D on 4, back to A on Hole 5 and so on.

On every hole, two scores are added together to form the team score:

  • The score of the golfer playing the devil ball;
  • And the low score (a k a the best ball) among the other three golfers on the team.

So on Hole 1, let's say the scores are 5 for Golfer A, 5 for B, 4 for C and 6 for D. The team score is 9: Golfer A is the playing the devil ball on Hole 1, so his score must count; and Golfer C's 4 is the low score among the other three golfers.

That's Devil Ball/Money Ball/Pink Ball/etc. Obviously, the golfer playing the devil ball on a hole is under great pressure to come through for the team. Woe be to the money-ball-golfer who puts two balls into the water!

A couple variations that tournament organizers typically don't include ... but might:

  • If the golfers playing the devil ball loses it, that player is eliminated from the game. The group continues as a threesome.
  • Or, if the devil ball is lost, the entire team is eliminated from the competition.

We don't like either of these conditions (harsh!), but, as we said, they aren't used that often.

Devil Ball As a Bonus Competition

Another option that might show up in some Devil Ball tournaments: The "money ball" score serves as a bonus competition. The 4-person teams compete using the two low scores on each hole, as described above. But the devil ball/money ball score is also kept separately. Then, the team with the lowest devil ball score wins a bonus prize.

Is the Devil Ball Itself Marked in Some Way?

What about the actual golf balls used by the designated golfer on each hole - are they marked in some way?

That depends on the tournament organizers and the rules in place at the specific tournament. If the name used for the event has a color in its name - e.g., Yellow Ball or Pink Ball - then teams should expect to use a ball of that color for the "devil ball."

Organizers might provide yellow or pink balls, for example, to each team, and the ball rotates on each hole to the golfer now designated to play the devil ball/money ball. Or golfers in the tournament might be given plenty of notice to buy such balls on their own for use in the event.

Alternately, team members might be told to mark a golf ball in some way as the designated ball, and then that ball becomes the "devil ball" and rotates each hole.

None of those things are a given, however, and it might be that each golfer plays their usual golf ball throughout the tournament.

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