RULE: Match Play- Is It Different to Stroke Play?

 When the Championship season is in swing, match play competitions are scheduled. Most of my golf is played under stroke play rules - but are the rules different for Match play?

MATCH PLAY: This traditional form of the game sees two individuals or two sides competing against each other on a hole by hole basis with the number of holes won or lost deciding the match. The match is completed when one side is ahead after the stipulated number or is more holes up than is remaining to play.

Match play has two 'formats':

1. Scratch match play. The two players/team play head to head, without any handicaps allocated. Both players/teams play "off scratch"

2. Handicap match play. In this format, a player's handicap comes into calculation.

The number of strokes awarded in a handicap match play competition is the  difference between the players' stroke handicaps. Where there is more than 18 strokes difference between players' handicaps, the higher handicap receives 2 strokes per hole where applicable. Stroke are then given according to the "Match Index" on our card.  The lowest marker reverts to scratch and gives strokes to the higher handicapped player. Eg - A is on 4, B is on 24. A is on scratch (no strokes) and B has 20 shots, which means B has a stroke on every hole + 2 strokes on another 2 holes (that would be #8 and #12 on our course.

  1. ORDER OF PLAY: Who hits off first? What if I play 'out of turn'?
  2. TEEING GROUND: I have teed off outside the tee box - do I lose the hole immediately?
  3. CONCEDING A SHOT: How do I do that? Can I take it back??

1. When starting the play of a match, you hit off in the order of the draw - your name is first, you hit off first.
At the start of any other hole, the player (or side in fourball/foursomes) who won the previous hole has the honour on the next tee. If you halve a hole, then the player or side who had the honour at the previous teeing ground retains it.

During the play of a hole, the ball farther from the hole is played first. If you can't decide which ball is farther from the hole, the ball to be played first can be decided by loto r by agreement.

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