What Is Match Play In Golf?


They say you play golf against yourself. The idea is, to win at golf, you need to focus on making your shots, versus reacting to and trying to outperform your opponents.

But, if you like the idea of playing against someone else, you’re in luck. You can try match play scoring rules. And if you’re wondering just what is match play golf, read on.

How Match Play Scoring Works

If you like direct competition, you’ll love match play because the golfer who wins the most holes wins the match. Unlike regular golf scoring, your total number of strokes for the entire round is irrelevant. Here’s how it works.

  1. One Opponent – Whether you play single-player or team match play, you play against only one opponent. Match play does not work for three or more individuals or teams.
  2. The Object – The basic object is to have more holes won than your opponent at the end of the match. You do that by trying to win each individual hole outright.
  3. Winning a Hole – The player or team with the lowest score wins the hole. It doesn’t matter if the score is above or below par, as long as it is better than the opponent’s score. When you win a hole, you are said to be “1 up” and your opponent is “1 down”. A tie means no one wins the hole.
  4. You’re Allowed to Concede a Hole – If on a given hole you are two shots down when your opponent putts out, you may concede the hole because there’s no way for you to win the hole. You can also give your opponent a ‘gimme’ on shots that you know they will make. But, depending on the score, you may want to be careful with your gimmes.

While match play doesn’t happen often on the PGA tour, there are many international tournaments, like the Ryder Cup, and match play is a popular option here at our Whitby golf club.
If you liked this post, check out our recent article on how to hold a golf club.

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