Rules of Match Play 2019

Well I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is looking forward to a New Year of great golf, under the 2019 Rules of Golf.

Because many clubs play Match Play, especially in regular Knockout Competitions, I have published a Rules of Match Play page on the My Golf Rules Blog.

There are a number of differences between Stroke Play and Match Play rules, which you must be aware of if you do not want to incur penalties or lose a match.

Certain specific rules governing match play are so different from those governing Stroke Play that combining the two formats is not recommended and in the previous Rules of Golf was not permitted.

The R&A and USGA have however recognised that groups of players, although entered into one competition often like to play a separate cometiton within their group.

The R&A and USGA have therefore included in the New Rules of Golf guidelines for dealing with these events.

You can read the Rules of Match Play on the Webpage or download your own PDF or Microsoft Word Copy from the page, by clicking on the download button below.

Enjoy your golf, and have a great New Year


Email: [email protected]

Rules Blog:

15, The Boundaries, Lympsham, Somerset, BS24 0DF


8 Replies to “Rules of Match Play 2019”

  1. Our winter knock out starts in October, but in November handicaps will change due to WHS. Should we play the whole competition with our October handicap or change it in November to our new one.

    1. Hi Trevor
      My comment and advice would be:
      All competitions must be played under the Rules of Golf and the Rules of Handicapping in force at the time. This would mean that your knockout competitions played during October must comply with the CONGU UHS, then those on and after 2 November 2020 under WHS.
      Players must declare their current handicap and ensure they do not play off a higher handicap than that to which they are entitled, otherwise immediate DQ.
      You will find that CONGU Handicap and WHS Handicap Index may not vary by more than 1stroke, so should not concern players too much.
      The results of Knockout competitions are decided at the end of the Match and are not the same as Multi-round Competitions held over two or more rounds or days, where the handicap that a player plays off in a second round is often that used for the firs round.
      Another problem if you Did continue with the CONGU Handicap is that once players submit individual competition scores between their Knockout Competitions under WHS, your Handicap Software will be managing players’ handicap indexes under this system. The method of calculating Handicap Indexes is different from the current CONGU System and it would not be easy to calculate a handicap using the old system, other than by hand.
      I would ensure that all players know of the situation by including the fact that October Knockouts will be using CONGU Handicaps and those played on and after 2 November will be in line with WHS Handicap Indexes, in your Competition Conditions.

      Hope this helps

  2. In matchplay foursomes one of the playing opponents had a trackman sticker on face of driver after his fitting. On 6th hole the other team noticed and said they were disqualified. The sticker gives no advantage to the club etc so interested to know if this ruling is correct.

    1. Hi Paul
      Under the R&A and USGA Rules of Equipment, anything applied to the face of a club, for whatever reason, makes the club non-conforming. As soon as a stroke is made with the non-conforming club the player is disqualified.
      Committees do have the discretion to decide whether an external attachment will have any effect on the performance characteristics of a golf club, but as I said it is usually accepted that anything applied to the face of a club, for whatever reason, makes the club non-conforming.
      Rules have recently changed on penalties that apply to non-conforming clubs. See Rule 4.1a(3). For ‘During Round’ also read ‘At Start of Round’.
      Rule 4.1a(3) Deliberately Changing Club’s Performance Characteristics During Round. A player must not make a stroke with a club whose performance characteristics he or she deliberately changed during the round (including while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a):
      • By using an adjustable feature or physically changing the club (except when allowed to repair damage under Rule 4.1a(2)), or
      • By applying any substance to the clubhead (other than in cleaning it) to affect how it performs in making a stroke.
      Exception – Adjustable Club Restored to Original Position: If a club’s performance characteristics were changed by using an adjustable feature and, before the club is used to make a stroke, the club is restored as nearly as possible to its original position by adjusting the feature back to where it was, there is no penalty and the club may be used to make a stroke.
      Penalty for Making Stroke in Breach of Rule 4.1a: Disqualification.
      • There is no penalty under this Rule for merely having (but not making a stroke with) a non-conforming club or a club whose performance characteristics were deliberately changed during the round.
      • But such a club still counts towards the 14-club limit in Rule 4.1b(1).

      If a player carries a non-conforming club in her/his bag but does not use it, then there is no penalty.
      However, as soon as s/he uses the club s/he is disqualified, which means in foursomes the side is disqualified.
      There is the exception to this where if the playing characteristics were changed using an adjustable feature, if the club is restored to its original conforming position, without having been used, then there is no penalty and the club may be used.
      In my opinion, this could apply to the adhesive sticker, which is semi-permanent and if removed before the club has been used, it could be argued that the club has been returned to its original conforming state and could be used. This may be a Committee Decision that could be considered.
      Hope this is helpful

    1. You may not practise or play a round on the day of a Stroke Play Competition before a competition but no problem with a Match Play Competition.

      There is no restriction to practising or playing a round on a course on the same day before a Match Play Competition.

      See Rule 5.2

      5.2 Practising on Course Before or Between Rounds

      For purposes of this Rule:

      “Practising on the course” means playing a ball, or testing the surface of the putting green of any hole by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface, and
      The limitations on practise on the course before or between rounds apply only to the player, not to the player’s caddie.
      Match Play

      A player may practise on the course before a round or between rounds of a match-play competition.


  3. You do not have to start on the first tee if it has not been made part of the Competition rules and there are other tees from which the competition could start without interfering with other players on the course.

    I understand why you are asking, because there may be an advantage to starting play at a particular hole on your course depending on how the Stroke Indices have been allocated and the number of shots difference between the teams or individuals. There would be a an advantage for a player or team if they were able to take advantage of the majority of their shot advantage early in the round by starting the competition from a particular tee.

    The hole from which a competition starts in match play can be by mutual agreement, however you must bear in mind that the tee from which a competition must start may have been already set by a committee in its Competition Conditions (this does not necessarily have to be the first tee) or by the accepted Golf Club Booking System.

    If the Golf Club Committee has set the Tee from which the Competition must start, then this must be honoured and cannot be altered unless by express permission of the Committee

    The other point is that a Golf Club may stipulate a time from which players may tee-off from, especially if they have a two-tee start facility e.g. 2-balls off 1st Tee between 8.0 and 10.00 a.m, ¾-balls off 10th Tee between 8.00 and 10.00 a.m., again this must be adhered to.

    However, there may be some ‘break-in’ holes where a club allows players to join the course as long as they do not interfere with other players, a competition could start from those points.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *