Golf Like A Pro: What Is Match Play?

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Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

When it comes to playing golf, match play is one of the most popular ways to do it. However, if you are a beginner, then you may not know what this means or how to do it. So, what is match play?

Having to learn many new golf terms, phrases, and techniques can feel overwhelming, but luckily we at OurGolfClubs are here to help!

In this article, we will be discussing match play. We will tell you everything you need to know about match play, including what it is, how to do it, and more! 

So, if this is of interest to you, then read on! 

what is match play

What Is Match Play?

Match play, sometimes written as matchplay, is a type of golf where a team of players, or one single player, will play directly against an opposing team or a single opponent in a head-to-head game of golf. 

Match play is not to be confused with stroke play. During stroke play, a player or team of players aims to score the lowest on their scorecard over eighteen holes.

In this type of golf format, golfers aim to have more wins than the opposing golfer, or the opposing team. 

Another way to describe match play is this: it is a series of eighteen separate games in one round.

Every golfer will play one hole, and after this hole has been completed the scores will be compared between teams or players in order to determine who is the winner of that hole. 

How Does Scoring Work In Match Play?

The individual player or team of players who complete the holes in the least amount of strokes will win that hole. Winning a hole earns you a point.

However, if both scores are the same, the hole is halved which results in the overall score remaining the same. 

For example, if the first player manages to birdie their first hole, but the player for the opposing team only manages to par it, then the first player wins the hole and gets the point, known as going “1-up.”

But, if the player for the opposing team goes on to win the second hole, then the scores will become equal once again. This is known as “all-square.” 

The winner will be decided when the score of a player or a team of players’ points is greater than the number of holes left to play.

This means that the opposing player or opposing team will no longer be able to catch up or get ahead mathematically. 

For example, if a player for the first team is 2-up with only one hole to play, then they will have beaten the other team and won that game of golf by “2&1.” 

The largest victory margin possible during a match play game of golf is 10&8. Here, one player or team of players wins the first ten holes consecutively. 

Additionally, it is important to note that when one player or team of players are able to halve the match but are unable to lose the match, then this is referred to as a “dormie.” 

For example, if a player or team of players are 2-up and there are only two holes left in the game, then this is known as “dormie 2.” 

How To Play Handicap Matches In Match Play Games?

In golf, handicap means the difference between the golf course par in total, compared to the average number of strokes the individual golfer will play in around ten different games.

A handicap is a measure of the ability of every individual golfer, which permits them to play on the same level as other amateur golfers that have different levels of ability.

Playing handicap matches is also possible with match play games. In these matches, it is the net score that is the lowest that will win the respective hole.

The golf player that has the highest handicap will have extra shots, and this depends on the difference between the handicaps of the respective players. 

For example, if there was a match where the players are off eight and fourteen, then the eight-handicapper must allow six shots to the fourteen-handicapper. This is because 14-8 = 6. 

This amateur golfer is allowed these shots on the most difficult holes, which are decided based on the Stroke Index. If they make a net par, also known as a bogey, on any of the holes where the eight-handicapper makes par, then the hole will be halved. 

When it comes to team play, the allowance is 90% of the difference based on the player that is the lowest-handicapped. This is under the World Handicap System. 

Are There Any Concessions In Match Play?

Concessions are possible in match play. Either player or team of opposing players may decide to concede on a hole at any point in the match. 

Additionally, there are concessions known as “gimmes”, which are also permitted. A gimme happens when a player has a short putt, and the opposing player makes the assumption that they will not miss. 

For example, if the first player has three shots and they will definitely sink the ball in their fourth shot, the second player for the opposing team is permitted to concede.

This means the first player does not have to play this shot and wins the hole. 

Not only does this help to keep the match fast, but it helps to maintain and enforce golf etiquette.

Final Thoughts 

Match play is a type of golf where a player or player team go head-to-head against another player or opposing team in a game of golf.

They will work to complete the holes in the least amount of strokes. The player or team that does this will win that hole, and consequently will win a point for their team.

The player or team that has the most points at the end of a game wins the match play. 

Our team at OurGolfClubs hopes this article tells you everything you need to know about match play games in golf! 

Luke Griffin

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

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