What Is The Most Playoff Holes In Golf?

Author Profile
OurGolfClubs Author at OurGolfClubs

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

Playoffs are one of the most exciting part of golf, especially when you are watching a golf tournament.

A playoff in golf is how a tie between two players is resolved at the end of a competition.

what is the most playoff holes in golf

This is usually by added extra holes that need to be played until a winner is declared.

But how many playoff holes can golfers play in a game? We had a look at the rules and some historic examples that turned out to be very surprising.

What Are The Most Playoff Holes?

Playoffs are the common method to break off a tie in golf. There is no maximum number of playoff holes that golfers can play.

In the past, golfers used to play as many as 72 playoff holes until a winner for a tournament was found.

However, modern golf works mostly with sudden death, which means that the number of playoff holes is a lot lower.

As a rule of thumb, each tournament decides individually what format players need to follow when there is a tie.

Some competition rules may include only a single-hole repeat or between 2 and 4 holes for the repeats.

There are various factors that can influence how golfers resolve a tie, including the course itself and logistics where spectators need to move around.

For example, the Southern Hills PGA tournament says that two tied players need to play holes 13, 17 and 18 first, and then move to a format of 18, 13, 17 and 18.

But there are also some tournaments with simpler tie rules, such as the Masters Augusta Nationals where players alternate between holes 10 and 18 for the playoffs.

The Longest Playoff Holes Record In Golf Tournaments

The most playoff holes played in golf was 72 holes at the 35th US Open Tournament between Von Elm and Billy Burke in 1931.

The two players tied on 292 after they shot 72 holes. The tournament had to be split into two days, where the two golfers scored a 36 hole playoff on the first day, and the same on the second day.

At this time in golf history, there was no sudden-death rule. This meant that they had to go through the playoffs all the way. Billy Burke won with 148 over 149.

In comparison, the majority of golf tournaments are decided by sudden death playoff.

Looking at the most sudden death playoff holes in modern golf history, the longest playoff was 11 holes.

what is the most playoff holes in golf

The Most Golf Playoff Holes In History

Throughout history, there have been a number of some spectacular playoffs. Here are some of our favorite golf playoffs.

Billy Burke Vs. Von Elm: 72-Hole Playoff

Playoffs with 72 holes hardly ever happen today as the playoff rules have changed to sudden death for most tournaments.

However, that makes this record-breaking playoff at the 35th US Open in 1931 even more spectacular.

Vic Ghezzi Vs. Byron Nelson: 38-Hole Playoff

In 1941, Byron Nelson competed against Vic Ghezzi in the 24th PGA finals. It took Vic Ghezzi 38 holes to win the tournament.

What’s interesting with this game is that they both chipped exactly at 3 feet which meant they had to flip a coin over who is putting first. While Nelson went first, he missed.

Lloyd Mangrum Vs. Vic Ghezzi Vs. Byron Nelson: 36-Hole Playoff

We may be so used to seeing playoffs happening between two players that we forget that playoffs are also possible between multiple golfers.

This three-way tie at the Canterbury US Open in 1946 took 36 holes with Mangrum winning the match.

Jenny Chuasiriporn Vs. Se Ri Pak: 20-Hole Playoff

While Pak needed two extra holes for the usual 18-hole playoff rule at the Women’s US Open, she managed to defeat Chuasiriporn at hole 11.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) declared her the youngest female golfer to win the tournament. Pak was only 20 years old at the time.

However, her age didn’t stopped her from making a great career as a successful golfer.

Rocco Mediate Vs. Tiger Woods: 19-Hole Playoff

In 2008, Tiger Woods played against Rocco Mediate in the US Open, and he ended with a total of 19 holes for the playoff.

It was one of Woods’ last game of the season as he injured his tendon later in the year and had to end the season early.

Although this match was tension-filled, it wasn’t the first time that a golfer ended after 19 holes.

There are a number of different tournaments where players needed an extra hole to win a game.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Golfers Can Make The Playoffs In The Same Match?

There is no set number of golfers who can play the playoffs at the end of a regular match.

Any number of players who tie after 72 holes are automatically transferred into the playoffs.

There have been as many as six players in playoffs and it makes the game a lot more exciting and varied than with just two golfers.

How Many Holes Are In A Golf Playoff?

There is no specific number of holes in a golf playoff as the different tournaments set their own playoff rules and also playoff formats.

Some tournament organizers want to keep a game as short as possible, so they allow only a two-hole aggregate playoff format.

What Is The Most PGA Sudden Death Holes Record?

The longest sudden-death record for a PGA tournament is 11 holes. This happened at the PGA Motor City Open between Lloyd Mangrum and Cary Middlecoff in 1949.

What Happens In The Case Of A Golf Tournament Tie?

If there is no resolution to the playoff tie and players run out of playoff rounds, then the prize money is usually split between the players.

While this has happened in the past, it isn’t very common.

Final Thoughts

Depending on the tournament, the number of playoff holes can vary widely but the record for the most playoff holes in history is still 72 holes.

Luke Griffin

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

Recent Posts