Ryder Cup: Intricacies of fourball and foursomes


Ryder Cup week is finally upon us and it's going to be an awesome week of competitive golf.

All of the players that make each team are playing at a world-class level and it’s fun as fans to see them compete as teams in the fourball and foursomes formats as opposed to just as individuals, which we see throughout the year.

Let’s take a look at some of the keys to teaming up and playing well in these respective formats:

Fourball format: In the fourball format, two players make up a team and play a better ball against the other team. When playing this format, it is critical that the more accurate driver hits first. This usually means the shorter of the two would get his ball in play, allowing the longer hitter to play more aggressively off the tee. Having one ball in play at all times lessens the pressure. Also, it is important that the two players are familiar with each other's games so that there are no surprises out there. So, for example, if Steve Stricker is playing with Tiger Woods, as many expect will be the case, I would have Stricker hit first on every tee. The key is to always get the first ball in 'A-1' position to put pressure on your opponents.

Foursomes: Foursomes is the most challenging format for any player or team captain. Foursomes is sometimes called alternate shot, which gives you a better idea of how the format is played. Two golfers play one ball, alternating between shots. Here you must factor in the strengths of a player and even the type of golf ball that's being used. The pressure in this format is greater because you never wanted to put your teammate in a bad spot or not cash in on a great shot by your partner. To play your best in alternate shot you must stay focused on every shot as if you were playing it, and communication is key, especially on the greens, where both player should help in reading putts.

These formats are fun to watch and even more fun to play in if you have the chance.

The team that matches its players up more effectively in the fourball and foursome formats will have the advantage this weekend.

But if players don't communicate well and are uncomfortable with their playing partners, they could be in for a long day.

And based on my experience, you need to be comfortable and play your own game as much as possible. Now is definitely not the time to change styles.

For more exclusive Golf Channel coverage of the 2012 Ryder Cup, click here.