Golf Scoring — Match Play

Match play scoring is different than stroke play.  In match play, the player who holes out with fewest strokes wins the hole.  It doesn’t really matter how many strokes, as long as it was fewer than their opponent, they won the hole.  By way of example, if player A wins the first hole his score is 1-up.  If the players tie for the rest of the holes, player A wins the match 1-up and player B loses the match 1-down.  Tying a hole is called halving the hole.  Another example: if after five holes, player A won three holes and player B won two holes, player A is again 1-up since she won three holes and player B won two.  In this example, if player A wins hole 6, she will then be 2-up since she won four and B won two.

Note that you can get to a point in the round where there are not enough holes left for a losing player to come back and win the round, even if they won all the remaining holes.  As example, if player A wins all five of the first holes, she will be 5-up going into hole six.  However, even if player B won holes 6 through 9, that’s only four wins and they would finish with player A 1-up.  In this case, the match is declared won by player A with a score of “5 and 4”; that’s 5-up and only 4 left to play, no chance for B.  Yet another example, if player A is 3-up after hole even, she will be declared the winner with a score of “3 and 2”; 3-up with only 2 holes left.

In match play, if the players are tied by either halving every hole or both winning the same number of holes, they are said to be even. Another term you’ll hear in match play is dormie.  If player A is up by the same number as holes left to play, the match is said to have gone dormie.  Dormie means player A has assured herself at least half a point in a match tournament as they will be even at the end if player B wins all three remaining holes.  In this example, if the tournament is a one-round tournament, then dormie really has no meaning as the players will likely play off until there is a winner.  Dormie does have meaning in multi-round match play like the Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, and Solheim Cup, where points are added up to win; a half point will count.  As an example if player B is 4-up after five holes (“4 and 4”) in a nine hole tournament, he is said to have taken the match dormie, since the worst that can happen for him is to finish even if player A wins the remaining four holes.

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