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What Is Matchplay Golf?


To provide the best explanation and differences between the two major formats of golf, StrokePlay versus MatchPlay, viewed as two different golf products; we gratefully acknowledge the illuminations of Brent Kelley from ThoughtCo as extracted online 12th April 2017. 

At root, match play scoring is very simple: Golfers compete hole by hole, and the golfer who wins the most holes wins the match.


In this sense, match play is a whole different game than stroke play.

In STROKE PLAY, golfers accumulate strokes over the course of 18 holes. The golfer with the fewest strokes at the completion of the round wins.

In MATCH PLAY each hole is a separate competition. The player with the fewest strokes on an individual hole wins that hole; the player winning the most holes wins the match.

The stroke total for 18 holes simply doesn't matter in match play. Stroke play is more a player vs. the course approach; match play is directly player vs. player, or side vs. side. There is one opponent you must beat, and that's the opponent you're facing in the match you're playing right now.


This is a semantic difference. In stroke play, the golfers you are playing against are your "fellow-competitors". In match play, the golfer you are playing against is your "opponent".


Simple: Win a hole, that's one for you; lose a hole, that's one for your opponent.

Ties on individual holes (called halves) essentially don't count; they aren't kept track of in the scorekeeping.

The score of a match play match is rendered relationally. Here's what we mean: Let's say you've won 5 holes and your opponent has won 4. The score is not shown as 5 to 4; rather, it's rendered as 1-up for you, or 1-down for your opponent. If you have won 6 holes and your opponent 3, then you are leading 3-up, and your opponent is trailing 3-down.

Essentially, match play scoring tells golfers and spectators not how many holes each golfer has won, but how many more holes than his opponent the golfer in the lead has won. If the match is tied, it is said to be "all square." (On leader boards and in television graphics, all square is often abbreviated as "AS.")

Match play matches do not have to go the full 18 holes. They often do, but just as frequently one player will achieve an insurmountable lead and the match will end early.

Say you reach a score of 6-up with 5 holes to play - you've clinched the victory, and the match is over.

In the World Amateur MatchPlay Championship you play out all the 6 holes.