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A concession may not be declined or withdrawn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.