Match Play Overview

Here is a listing of important Match Play Rules to remember...

Match Play:  Match Play is a format of play that is scored in a hole-by-hole competition.  The side that holes its ball in less strokes than its opponent wins that particular hole. In a handicap competition, the side with the lowest net score wins the hole.

Winning:  The side who has won the most holes wins the match.  When a side is winning by more holes than there are holes remaining, the match is won.  A match can be won before all 18 holes are played. For example, if you win the first 10 holes, you’ve won the match because there are only 8 holes left to play.  In The EWGA Cup, each winning match is awarded 1 point toward the team total and halved matches are awarded ½ point. 

Match Play Terms:

Status of a Match:  The status of a match is expressed relationally. Match play scoring does not indicate the number of holes won by a player, but rather how many more holes than his opponent a golfer has won. "Up" indicates that a side is winning by a number of holes and "down" indicates that a side is losing by a number of holes.

Halved Hole
:  A halved hole is a hole where opponents score the same on a specific hole.  The opponents are said to have "halved" the hole and the status of the match remains the same.

Dormie: A match is said to be dormie when a side has won as many holes as the number of holes remaining to be played, i.e. 3 up with 3 to play. The worst the leading team can do at this point is tie (by losing all the remaining holes).

All Square: A scoring term that indicates a match that is tied.

Excerpts from the USGA Rules of Golf

General Penalty for breach of a Rule in Match Play is loss of hole.

Rule 2 – Match Play

          2-4. Concession of Match, Hole, or Next Stroke
      • A player may concede a match or hole at any time prior to the start or conclusion of that match or hole
      • A player may concede her opponent’s next stroke at any time, as long as the opponent’s ball is at rest – the opponent is considered to have holed out with that next stroke
      • A concession may not be declined or withdrawn

2-5. Disputes & Claims

      •  If a doubt or dispute arises between players, a claim may be made by a player to an authorized representative of the tournament Committee
      • The Committee may consider a claim only if the player making the claim notifies her opponent (i) that she is making a claim, (ii) of the facts of the situation and (iii) that she wants a ruling.
      •  In the event a representative is not readily available, the players must continue the match without delay and then lodge a claim before playing from the next tee or, in the case of the last hole of the match, before all players in the match leave the putting green.

**NOTE: playing a second ball is not an option in match play**

Rule 9 – Information as to strokes taken

9-2b. Wrong Information

      •  A player must not give wrong information to her opponent
      • Providing wrong information will result in loss of the hole
      • Be sure to keep accurate track of your strokes and communicate to your opponent if you incurred any penalty

Rule 10 – Order of Play

          10-1. Match Play

      • The side that has the honor on the first tee is decided by draw and the side winning the hole has the honor on the next teeing groud
      • During the round, the ball farther from the hole is played first.  If both balls are equidistant from the hole, the ball to be played first is decided by lot
      • If a player hits out of turn, the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke just made and, in correct order, play a ball as near as possible from the spot where the original ball was last played.

Rule 11 – Teeing Ground

11-4a. Playing from outside the teeing ground - No penalty.  Opponent may recall the stroke, but isn't required to do so.

Rule 18 - Ball at Rest Moved: 

18-2a. By Player or Equipment

      • If your ball at rest is moved by you or your equipment, you incur a penalty of 1 stroke and you must replace the ball.
      • If your ball at rest is moved by someone else or another ball, replace it without penalty to you. 

18-3a. By Opponent or her equipment

      • If a ball at rest is moved by an opponent or her equipment during a search, no penalty is incurred and ball must be replaced if it was moved.
      • If the player’s ball at rest is moved by the opponent or her equipment at any time other than during a search, the opponent incurs a penalty of 1 stroke.

Rule 19 -  Ball in Motion, Deflected or Stopped

19-3. When a ball in motion is deflected or stopped by opponent or equipment in match play – no penalty is incurred and the player may cancel the stroke or play the ball as it lies.  The stroke must be canceled before another stroke is made.

19-5. When a ball in motion is stopped by another ball in motion - No penalty, even if both balls are on the putting green.

Rule 22 – Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play

22-1.   You may lift your ball if it might assist any other player.  

22-2.   You may have any ball lifted* if it might interfere with your play or assist any other player.

*If you are not on the green, particular care must be used in marking and holding your ball and you may NOT clean your ball.