The format requires one of the two partners to tee off on the odd holes and the other the even holes. Then the two alternate hitting the ball until the hole is completed. It is difficult for a number of reasons.
First of all, golf is primarily an individual game, where the player is in complete control from start to finish. Now, he is not.
Now the coach has a say, and he must consider the two players demeanor and playing styles before pairing them together. At the time of this writing, there had been a lot of talk that Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods should not play together because the former will take risks at the mere suggestion of a challenge, and the latter is very clinical and calculated. Each could frustrate the other. Their previous pairing in 2004 was disastrous. (Let’s see what the coach did.)
It also requires both players to look at the course setup and consider each other’s strengths and preferences before deciding which player tees off of which series of holes.
Fourth, each individual is not in complete control of the game. He must play the ball his partner hit, regardless of where it landed.
Fifth, at least where the pros are concerned, the ball becomes an issue because each player is used to playing with his own type of ball; the feel, flight, and spin of a different ball can be offsetting.
But most importantly, foursomes is difficult because it goes against our human nature. It requires us to deal graciously with our partner’s mistakes, to be forgiving and encouraging, and to try hard to hit a shot that will put our partner in an advantageous position.
The legendary golfer Bobby Jones once said that golf is the closest game to life, but I would take it a step further and say the unique format of foursomes is because as much as we want to play the game of life all on our own, we can’t. We are always in community and partnership, and it is God who has placed us there. So we too must deal graciously with others’ mistakes, be both forgiving and encouraging, and work hard to help others use their talents and gifts even if it relegates us to the background.
Paul understood this concept of “handing off” to others and “handing over” to God when he said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (I Corinthians 3:6)