What’s Wrong With A Fivesome? 5-Player Golf Explained

by Steve | Last Updated: 15 March 2021

A common question by golfers who are planning to play with four other friends is can you play golf with 5 players.

The answer is YES.

There is nothing in the rules of golf to say you can’t play as a five-ball but most golf courses limit the amount of players on each allocated tee-time to four. The main reason for this player limit is due to speed of play. Any more than a 4-ball and it is deemed to take too long to complete a round.

In fact, there are many times where playing as a group of five makes better sense than playing in groups of four or fewer players, but most courses restrict the group sizes to a maximum of four players.

Can You Play Golf As A Five Ball

Different golf courses have different rules and how they choose to allocate tee times and take care of their general course management.

In the UK, the standard is to play to a maximum of four players per group, but in Southern California, Five-Balls are regarded as the norm.

It is unlikely to be permitted at members club or at busy courses or during busy times.

But if the course is not busy then you may be able to get permission to play as a five-some.

I would definitely make this request with the club before starting to play.

You may find you will face some opposition to it on the golf course because other golfers may not know you have been given permission and because it is not the norm in most places, then they’ll probably not be happy about it.

The Arguments For Allowing Five Balls

It’s a Sociable Game

For most Players, golf is not their career, but is a hobby or sport which allows them to spend quality time with their friends.

If you are a group of five then it always feel bad to split the group up into a 3-ball and a 2-ball. The

Length Of Time Take To Play A Round

If you split the five players in to a three-ball and a two-ball, it may take longer than allowing them to play together as a five.

You could reason that a five-ball would take less time overall, as you would not have a scenario where two or three people tee off, and then have the remaining players are forced to wait and watch for 4-5 minutes, or longer if the group ahead is walking.

Although this would become less of an issue after the first hole and it would then simply become two groups making their way around the course.

The Reasons Not To Allow Five Balls

How It Affects Other Groups

If you were playing in the group behind I am sure you would you rather be following either the 2-ball or 3-ball rather than the 5-ball 

Two or three players will always clear the fairway and clear the green noticeably faster than five players.

Speed Of Play

I’ve played a lot of golf and I can confidently say that I never enjoyed playing slowly; and I have had many a decent score ruined by having to wait for long periods between shots.

For me, waiting around kills both rhythm and momentum

I can count many occasions when you arrive at the next tee box and and have had to wait for them to get ready, then when it was their turn again they seem to take forever; It would be one thing if they played fast but they usually don’t.

This often happens with the Course Marshall (if the course even have one) nowhere to be seen.

Conclusion

Four-Balls are often slow enough, five balls would be even slower.

But if a five-ball let faster groups through, when required, then its all good. But if they don’t do this then they probably deserve the abuse that is likely to come their way.

Most players still don’t play ready golf, which for me has been one of the best changes to the rules in recent years.

Personally I would prefer not to have to play behind a five-ball, but if they don’t hold up play it’s irrelevant how many are in the group.

Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf