Rules of Match Play

Rules of match Play Image

A Guide to the Rules of Match Play.

You may download your own copy of this guide, in a PDF or Microsoft Word format, if you click on the download button at the end of the article.

Match Play

Most of our golf competitions are played under the Rules of Stroke Play, which includes Medals, Bogey, Par and Stableford competitions. However, many Golf Clubs run Match Play competitions, such as Club Knockouts, which are often scheduled to run over a full season.

An important point that you must understand is that there are many differences between the Stroke Play and Match Play formats of golf that you should be aware of if you do not want to incur penalties, or worse, an unnecessary disqualification.

Because certain rules specific to Match Play are greatly different from those governing Stroke Play, the R&A, previously, prohibited any competitions that would combine the two formats.

However, under the New Rules of Golf although the combining of Match Play and Stroke Play is discouraged, because of the substantial difference of certain Rules between the two formats, the R&A and USGA recognise that there will be times when players either request to combine the two forms of play or do so on their own, and then request a ruling. A Committee should make its best efforts to support players at these times and should use the following guidelines in doing so.(Committee Procedures 6c(12))

When players request to combine Match Play and Stroke Play

If a Committee chooses to allow players to play a match while competing in a stroke-play competition, it is recommended that the players be advised that the Rules for Stroke Play apply throughout. For example, no concessions are allowed and if one player plays out of turn, the other does not have the option of recalling the stroke.

When players request a ruling having combined Match Play and Stroke Play

If the Committee is asked for a ruling when players have combined Match Play and Stroke Play, it should apply the Rules of Golf as they would apply to each of Match Play and Stroke Play separately. For example, if one player did not complete a hole for whatever reason then he or she is disqualified from the stroke-play competition for a breach of Rule 3.3c. But, for Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey see Rules 21.1c(2), 21.2c and 21.3c(2) respectively.

Remember that if you do anything during the round that breaches the Stroke Play format, this could disqualify you from the singles competition. For example, you must putt out on every hole, respect the order of play, not give or receive any advice, or ignore a breach of Rule made by any player in the group.

During a round, the player and opponent must play each hole in the same group, (Rule 5.4a) and, as with all Golf competitions, play under the Rules of Golf in force at the time.

 Score Card

The Rules of Golf do not require players to keep a score card in Match Play, because each hole is either won by one of the two sides, or halved between them. The winner is the side who wins the most holes over the stipulated round, or an extension of that round if the match has to be played to a conclusion. For example, if a side is 3 holes up and there are only 2 holes of the stipulated round remaining, the match is over with a result of 3 and 2 to that side.

However, a minority of handicapping systems, including the USGA Handicap System, require players to record and return their Match Play scores, as these authorities consider them to be acceptable scores for the purposes of handicap review.

At the moment, including these scores is not envisaged in the World Handicap System, due to be introduced in March 2020, for the UK, but this requirement could change.

Match Play Format

In Match Play (see Rule 3.2), a player, or team and an opponent or opposing team, compete against each other based on holes won, lost or tied and the result of the match is decided under Rule 3.2a(3) or (4).

A player wins a hole when:

  • The player completes the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes) than the opponent,
  • The opponent concedes the hole, or
  • The opponent gets the general penalty (loss of hole).

If the opponent’s ball in motion needs to be holed to tie the hole and the ball is deliberately deflected or stopped by any person at a time when there is no reasonable chance it can be holed (such as when the ball has rolled past the hole and will not roll back there), the result of the hole has been decided and the player wins the hole (see Rule 11.2a, Exception).

A hole is tied (also known as “halved”) when:

  • The player and opponent complete the hole in the same number of strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes), or
  • The player and opponent agree to treat the hole as tied (but this is allowed only after at least one of the players has made a stroke to begin the hole).

A player wins a match when:

  • The player leads the opponent by more holes than remain to be played,
  • The opponent concedes the match, or
  • The opponent is disqualified.

If a match is tied after the final hole:

  • The match is extended one hole at a time until there is a winner. See Rule 5.1 (an extended match is a continuation of the same round, not a new round).
  • The holes are played in the same order as in the round, unless the Committee sets a different order.

But the Terms of the Competition may say that the match will end in a tie rather than be extended.

The result of a match becomes final in the way stated by the Committee (which should be set out in the Terms of the Competition), such as:

  • When the result is recorded on an official scoreboard or other identified place, or
  • When the result is reported to a person identified by the Committee.

See Committee Procedures, Section 5A(7) (recommendations on how the result of a match becomes final).

Concessions (Rule 3.2b and 23.6)

Whereas in Stroke Play the player must finish every hole by holing out, in Match Play a player may concede a stroke to their opponent so that they can pick-up without holing out.

A player may concede the opponent’s next stroke, a hole or the match:

Stroke: This is allowed any time before the opponent’s next stroke is made.

  • The opponent has then completed the hole with a score that includes that conceded stroke, and the ball may be removed by anyone.
  • A concession made while the opponent’s ball is still in motion after the previous stroke applies to the opponent’s next stroke, unless the ball is holed (in which case the concession does not matter).

The player may concede the opponent’s next stroke by deflecting or stopping the opponent’s ball in motion only if that is done specifically to concede the next stroke and only when there is no reasonable chance the ball can be holed. Hole: This is allowed any time before the hole is completed (see Rule 6.5), including before the players start the hole.

Match: This is allowed any time before the result of the match is decided (see Rules 3.2a(3) and (4)), including before the players start the match.

A concession is made only when clearly communicated:

  • This can be done either verbally or by an action that clearly shows the player’s intent to concede the stroke, the hole or the match (such as making a gesture).
  • If the opponent lifts his or her ball in breach of a Rule because of a reasonable misunderstanding that the player’s statement or action was a concession of the next stroke or the hole or match, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).

A concession is final and cannot be declined or withdrawn.

So, if you concede a short putt to your opponent, but they putt anyway and miss, it does not matter because they are still considered to have holed out with the conceded putt for the purposes of the match.

Whilst there is no penalty when a player putts out after their next stroke has been conceded, if this would be of help to a partner in a Four-Ball or Four Ball Better Ball Match, the player’s score for the hole stands, without a penalty, but the partner’s score for the hole cannot count for the side. (Exception to Rule 23.6)

 Penalties

A breach of the Rules, that only incurs a one stroke penalty in Stroke Play, also incurs a one stroke penalty in Match Play.

In Stroke Play, the General Penalty for a breach of the Rules is two strokes, whereas in Match Play it is loss-of-hole.

Resolving Rules Issues During Round (Rule 20.1b)

If you are unsure of a Rule or a procedure in Match Play the Rules do not permit you to play a second ball, (Rule 20.1b(3)), as they do in Stroke Play, (20.1c). You must try and resolve the issue with your opponent without undue delay. If you cannot agree, a claim must be made before teeing-off at the next hole. You must notify your opponent that you are making a claim, agree the facts of the situation and make it clear that you will be asking the Committee for a ruling.

During a round, the players in a match may agree how to decide a Rules issue:

  •  The agreed outcome is conclusive even if it turns out to have been wrong under the Rules, so long as the players did not deliberately agree to ignore any Rule or penalty they knew applied (see Rule 1.3b(1)).
  • But if a referee is assigned to the match, the referee must rule on any issue that comes to his or her attention in time and the players must follow that ruling.

In the absence of a referee, if players do not agree or have doubt about how the Rules apply, either player may request a ruling under Rule 20.1b(2).

Ruling Request Made Before Result of Match Is Final: When a player wants a referee or the Committee to decide how to apply the Rules to his or her own play or the opponent’s play, the player may make a request for a ruling.

If a referee or the Committee is not available in a reasonable time, the player may make the request for a ruling by notifying the opponent that a later ruling will be sought when a referee or the Committee becomes available.

If a player makes a request for a ruling before the result of the match is final:

 A ruling will be given only if the request is made in time, which depends on when the player becomes aware of the facts creating the Rules issue:

    • When Player Becomes Aware of the Facts Before Either Player Starts the Final Hole of the Match. When the player becomes aware of the facts, the ruling request must be made before either player makes a stroke to begin another hole.
    • When Player Becomes Aware of the Facts During or After Completion of the Final Hole of the Match. The ruling request must be made before the result of the match is final (see Rule 3.2a(5)).
  • If the player does not make the request in this time, a ruling will not be given by a referee or the Committee and the result of the hole(s) in question will stand even if the Rules were applied in the wrong way.

If the player requests a ruling about an earlier hole, a ruling will be given only if all three of these apply:

  • The opponent breached Rule 3.2d(1) (giving wrong number of strokes taken) or Rule 3.2d(2) (failing to tell the player about a penalty),
  • The request is based on facts the player was not aware of before either player made a stroke to begin the hole being played or, if between holes, the hole just completed, and
  • After becoming aware of these facts, the player makes a request for a ruling in time (as set out above).

When a player makes a request for a ruling after the result of the match is final:

  • The Committee will give the player a ruling only if both of these apply:
    • The request is based on facts the player was not aware of before the result of the match was final, and
    • The opponent breached Rule 3.2d(1) (giving wrong number of strokes taken) or Rule 3.2d(2) (failing to tell the player about a penalty) and knew of the breach before the result of the match was final.
  • There is no time limit on giving such a ruling.

A player who is uncertain about the right procedure in a match is not allowed to play out the hole with two balls.

That procedure applies only in stroke play (see Rule 20.1c).

Applying Handicaps (Rule 3.2c)

Before starting a match, in which handicaps are to be considered, the players should tell each other their respective handicaps.

If a player begins a match having declared a wrong handicap from that to which they are entitled and does not correct this mistake before the opponent makes his or her next stroke:

  • If the handicap declared is too high the player is disqualified if this affects the number of strokes the player would get or receive. If it does not, there is no penalty.
  • If the player declares a lower handicap there is no penalty but the player must play off that lower handicap.

Handicap strokes are given by hole, and the lower net score wins he hole.

If a tied match is extended, handicap strokes are allocated by hole in the same way as in the round, (unless a committee sets a different way of doing so).

Each player is responsible for knowing he holes where he or she gets or gives strokes, based on the stroke index allocation set by the Committee. There is no penalty if players fail to determine one another’s handicaps before starting a match, but if this results in one of them not receiving a handicap stroke at a hole at which they are entitled to receive one, the hole stands as played (3.2d(3)).

If the players mistakenly apply handicap strokes on a hole, the agreed result stands, unless it is corrected before either player makes a stroke to begin another hole or for the final hole, before the result of the match is final (see Rule 3.2a(5)).

If however a player has requested a ruling in time (Rule 20.1(b)) and the finding of the ruling would affect the match score, it must be corrected.

Practice (Rule 5.2a)

Unlike in Stroke Play competitions, on any day of a Match Play competition, a player may practice on the competition course before their round or between rounds.

However, occasionally a Committee may prohibit practice on the day in the Conditions of Competition, so it is wise to check first.

Time of starting (Rule 5.3)

Some players often think that the start time for a match is not as important as it is for a Stroke Play competition. This is not the case.

If a player arrives at the first teeing area late, but within five minutes of their start time, they lose the hole at the same time if they tee-off before their start-time, but no more than five minutes earlier they get the General Penalty of loss-of-hole, applied to his or her first hole.

If player/s arrive more than five minutes late, they are disqualified.

If both players or teams arrive on the first teeing area late, but within five minutes of their start time, each player would incur a penalty of loss of the 1st hole and the result of the first hole is a tie (Interpretation 5.3a/5.

Note that if exceptional circumstances prevent a player or players to start on time and it is up to a committee to determine what acceptable exceptional circumstances are, a Committee may, with the concurrence of the opponent, waive a starting penalty or postpone the match for a reasonable period. (Interpretation 5.3a/1)).

Starting and Ending a Round (Rule 5.3a)

A round ends in Match Play when the result of the Match is decided under Rule 3.2a(3) or (4)

Stopping Play, Resuming Play (Rule 5.7a and 5.7b(2))

In Stroke Play players may not suspend play for bad weather, unless they consider there is danger from lightning. If they do, the Committee would be justified in disqualifying them. However, in Match Play, players may discontinue their match by agreement, unless by so doing the competition is delayed.

However, when either player decides that they want to resume play, the other player must also resume, otherwise there is no longer agreement between them and that player is disqualified. If a match is discontinued by agreement, e.g. due to darkness or threat of lightning, the match must be resumed from where it was discontinued; the players do not start the match again, even if resumption occurs on a subsequent day.

Advice (Rule 10.2a)

As with Stroke Play, except when playing together as partners on a side, a player must not ask for advice or give advice to a member of his or her team playing on the course.

This applies whether the team member is playing in the same group as a player or in another group on the course.

In team Match Play, it is important that team captains familiarise themselves with the conditions of the competition. It is common for there to be a condition stipulating that only the team captain, or someone else that has been agreed by the captains prior to the start of the match, may give advice. A team captain who is also playing in the competition may not give advice to a team member other than their four-ball or foursome playing partner (Interpretation 24.4/1).

Telling Opponent of Your Breach of Rule (Rule 3.2d(2))

If you incur a penalty that has not been observed by your opponent, you must inform them as soon as reasonably possible. If you fail to do so before your opponent makes their next stroke you get the General Penalty of loss of hole.

You do not, however, receive a penalty if your opponent knew that you had received a penalty but failed to tell your opponent about it.

This penalty also applies if you give incorrect information during play of a hole regarding the number of strokes taken and you do not correct that mistake before your opponent makes their next stroke. You are always entitled to ascertain from your opponent the number of strokes they have taken on the hole.

Order of Play (Rule 6.4 and 5.6b(2))

In Match Play the order of play is fundamental, if a player plays out of turn, the opponent may cancel that stroke and make the player play again.

On the first teeing ground, both in Stroke Play and Match Play, the side that has the honour (i.e. plays first) is determined by the order of the draw. In the absence of a draw, the honour should be decided by lot (e.g. tossing a coin).

Thereafter, the person who won the previous hole, or in the case of a halved hole played first on that hole has the honour and plays first from the teeing area. Anywhere else on the course the ball farthest from the hole is played first. Whereas, there is no penalty in Stroke Play for playing in the wrong order, unless players have agreed to do so to give one of them an advantage in which case, they are both disqualified, it is different in Match Play. If a player makes a stroke when their opponent should have played first, there is still no penalty, but the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel that stroke and play again, in the correct order, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played. In other words, if you think your opponent played a bad shot when they played out of turn you should say nothing, but if they played a good shot then you may want to ask them to cancel the stroke and, in correct order, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 14.6), in the hope that the result of their next shot will not be as good as the one that you required them to cancel.

Note that in Match Play players may agree that one of them will play out of turn to save time (Rule 6.4a)

In four-ball Match Play, balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order that the side considers best.

For example, Ball A is farthest from the hole and in Stroke Play should be played first, unless ‘Ready Golf’ is in operation (Rule 6.4b Exception).

In Match Play, if A and B are on the same side, they may choose whose ball to play first.

Playing from Outside Teeing Ground (Rule 6.1b)

If a player, when starting a hole, plays a ball from outside the teeing area there is no penalty, but their opponent may choose whether the stroke stands or require them to cancel their stroke.

This cancellation must be done promptly and before any player makes another stroke. The cancellation cannot be withdrawn and the player must play again from within the teeing area and it is still his her turn to play.

If the opponent does not cancel the stroke, the stroke counts and the ball is in play and must be played as it lies.

Wrong Ball in Match Play (Rule 6.3c)

A player who plays a wrong ball in singles Match Play loses the hole. If a player and an opponent exchange balls during the play of a hole the first to make a stroke at a wrong ball loses the hole; when this cannot be determined, there is no penalty and the hole must be played out with the balls exchanged.

Ball at Rest Lifted or Moved by Opponent, Caddie or Equipment (Rule 9.5)

This rule applies only when it is Known or Virtually Certain that an opponent lifted or moved a ball at rest; there is a one stroke penalty, except when it happens accidentally while searching, marking a player’s ball on the putting green or lifting a ball at a player’s request. for an opponent’s ball.

The ball must be replaced if it has been moved on its original or an estimated spot, (Rule 14.2), except when the opponent is conceding the next stroke, hole or match (Rule 3.2b) or when the opponent lifts or moves a ball at the player’s request.

Ball Overhanging Hole Deliberately Lifted or Moved by Opponent Before Waiting Time Ended (Rule 13.3b)

If your opponent deliberately lifts or moves your ball overhanging the hole before the waiting time has ended, your ball is treated as having been holed with the previous stroke, and there is no penalty to the opponent under Rule 11.2b

Opponent Lifts or Deliberately Touches Ball Causing it to Move

Opponent incurs a 1-stroke penalty, except when conceding next stroke, hole or Match or at player’s request or when marking or lifting player’s ball on putting green in mistaken belief that it was opponent’s own ball or accidentally moving ball

Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Person or Outside Influence (Rule 11.1)

If you play a stroke and your ball hits any person or outside influence which includes your opponent, caddie, their equipment there is no penalty and you play your next shot from where it comes to rest.

Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Another Ball

This is an unusual one, which not many Match Play golfers know about. If a putt from the putting green hits another ball at rest on the putting green, whether it is your partner’s ball or your opponent’s ball, there is no penalty in Match Play, whereas this would incur a penalty of two stokes in Stroke Play. Just play your ball from where it comes to rest and ensure that the ball that your ball moved is replaced back to where it was.

Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

    • 15. 3a  Ball on Putting Green Helping Play

    • Rules of Golf Interpretations 15.3a/2

Players Allowed to Leave Helping Ball in Match Play

In a match, a player may agree to leave his or her ball in place to help the opponent since the outcome of any benefit that may come from the agreement affects only their match.

Ball in Motion Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by Person (Rule 11.2)

This rule applies only when it is Known or Virtually Certain that a player’s ball in motion was deliberately deflected or stopped by a person. The Opponent gets the General Penalty of loss of hole unless the action is taken at a time when there is no reasonable chance the ball can be holed and when done either as a concession or when the ball needed to be holed to tie the hole, (Rules 3.2a(1) and 3.2b(1).

Playing from Wrong Place (Rule 14.7a)

In Match Play a player who plays from a wrong place loses the hole.

Deliberately Moving Objects or Altering Conditions to Affect Ball in Motion (Rule 11.3)

When a ball is in motion a player must not deliberately alter physical conditions such as replacing a divot or pressing down a raised area of turf (Rule 8.1a), lift a loose impediment (rule 15.1a Exception 2) or a movable obstruction (Rule 15.2a Exception 2).

Penalty is loss of hole.

Four-Ball Match Play – Representation of Side (Rule 23.4)

A side may be represented by one partner for all or any part of a match. A partner who arrives late for the start of a match, after any player has started play of a hole, may join it on that hole, but may not play until the next hole. However, they may give advice to their partner as soon as they arrive.

Four-Ball Match Play – Wrong Ball (Rule 23)

If a player incurs the loss of hole penalty under Rule 15-3a for making a stroke at a wrong ball, they are disqualified for that hole, but their partner incurs no penalty, even if the wrong ball belongs to them.

Four-Ball Match Play – Penalty only to Player (Rule 23.8a(1)

When a player gets a penalty other than disqualification, that penalty normally applies only to the player and not also to his or her partner.

Any penalty strokes are added only to the player’s score, not to the partner’s score.

In match play, a player who gets the general penalty (loss of hole) has no score that can count for the side on that hole; but this penalty has no effect on the partner, who may continue to play for the side on that hole.

Four-Ball Match Play – Penalty to Side (Rule 23.8a(2)

In those cases where the penalty for a breach of Rule is by the deduction of one hole for each hole at which the breach occurred, with a maximum deduction per round of two holes, (principally Rule 4.1b, Limit of 14 Clubs, Shared, Added or Replaced Clubs), both players of the side are penalised and not just the player that breached the Rule.

When player’s breach helps partner’s play or when player’s breach hurts opponent’s play, adjustment is made to the side’s score.

Four-Ball Match Play – Disqualification to Side (Rule 23.8b)

(1) When Breach by One Partner Means Side Is Disqualified.

A side is disqualified if either partner gets a penalty of disqualification under any of these Rules:

Match Play Only:

  • Rule 3.2c Applying Handicaps in Handicap Match

(2) When Breach by Both Partners Means Side Is Disqualified.

A side is disqualified if both partners get a penalty of disqualification under any of these Rules:

(3)When Breach by One Player Means Only That the Player Has No Valid Score for Hole.

In all other situations where a player breaches a Rule with a penalty of disqualification, the player is not disqualified but his or her score on the hole where the breach happened cannot count for the side.

In match play, if both partners breach such a Rule on the same hole, the side loses the hole.

Three Ball Match Play (Rule 21.4)

Three-Ball Match Play is a form of match play where:

  • Each of three players plays an individual match against the other two players at the same time, and
  • Each player plays one ball that is used in both of his or her matches.

The normal Rules for match play in Rules 1-20 apply to all three individual matches, except that these specific Rules apply in two situations where applying the normal Rules in one match might conflict with applying them in another match.

Playing Out of Turn

If a player plays out of turn in any match, the opponent who should have played first may cancel the stroke under Rule 6.4a(2):

If the player played out of turn in both matches, each opponent may choose whether to cancel the stroke in his or her match with the player.

If a player’s stroke is cancelled only in one match:

  • The player must continue play with the original ball in the other match.
  • This means the player must complete the hole by playing a separate ball in each match.

Ball or Ball-Marker Lifted or Moved by One Opponent

If an opponent gets one penalty stroke for lifting a player’s ball or ball-marker or causing the ball or ball-marker to move under Rule 9.5b or 9.7b, that penalty applies only in the match with that player.

The opponent gets no penalty in his or her match with the other player.

Ignoring a Breach of Rule Made By Your Opponent (1.3c(3))

In match play, the player and opponent may agree how to decide a Rules issue so long as they do not deliberately agree to apply the Rules in the wrong way (see Rule 20.1b(1)).

In Stroke Play, you have an obligation to your fellow competitors to report every breach of a Rule that you witness. There is no such obligation in Match Play, as you may disregard, or overlook any breach of a Rule by your opponent. The reason for this is that only you or your side are affected by a breach of Rule by an opponent, it does not affect any other entrant in the Match Play competition.

However, you still must not say anything to your opponent during play of the hole where the breach occurred, as under Rule 1.3b players must not agree to exclude the operation of any Rule, or to waive any penalty incurred by either side. If they do, the penalty is disqualification for both sides. So, you must wait until the result of the hole has been decided and at least one player has commenced play of the next hole, before making any comment on a penalty that you witnessed on the previous hole. At this stage it cannot be considered that there was agreement between the sides to waive a Rule and no penalty is incurred.

Summary Check List That Everyone Should Be Aware Of

  1. You may practice on the competition course before a round or between rounds of a match (Rule 5.2a).
  2. Playing from Wrong Teeing Area (Rule 6.1b(1))

If you play from outside a teeing area or even from a wrong set of tee markers there is no penalty, but your opponent may cancel your stroke, which he or she must do immediately before any other stroke is made. You still retain the order of play and must play from inside the correct teeing area.

If your opponent does not cancel the stroke the stroke counts and your ball is played as it lies

  1. You must not touch your opponent’s ball in play (Rule 95b), unless you are helping to search for it. You will incur a 1-stroke penalty.

Do not mark an opponent’s ball on the putting green unless requested to do so by your opponent.

  1. A concession of a hole may be given at any time and cannot be declined or withdrawn (Rule 3.2b and 23.6).

You may putt out after your putt has been conceded, providing it will not assist your partner when your side would then lose the hole.

  1. Incorrect information (Rule 9-2).

If your opponent gives you wrong information about their score, they must correct it before you make your next stroke, or they lose the hole.

  1. Order of Play (Rule 6.4, 6.4a(2)).

If your opponent plays out of turn you may ask them to cancel their stroke and play again in order. In four-ball Match Play, balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order that the side considers best.

  1. Playing Wrong Ball (Rule 6.3c)

If you play a wrong ball you lose the hole. If you and your opponent play wrong balls the first to have played the wrong ball loses the hole. If it cannot be determined who payed the wrong ball first continue play with the exchanged balls.

  1. Your ball hits your opponent or their equipment (Rule 11.1).

There is no penalty and you play your next shot from where your ball comes to rest.

  1. Putt from the putting green hits a ball at rest on the putting green (Rule 11.1a).

There is no penalty in Match Play, the other ball is replaced, and you must play your ball from where it comes to rest.

  1. Four-Ball Match Play –Representation of Side (Rule 23.4).

One partner may play for all or any part of a match, but when their partner arrives they must wait until the start of the next hole.

  1. Four-Ball Match Play – Wrong Ball (Exception to Rule 23.8a(2)).

If a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball, he or she gets the general Penalty of loss of hole, but his or her partner may continue play of the hole incurring no penalty, even if the wrong ball belongs to them.

  1. Asking for and giving Advice (Rule 10.2a).

If a spectator gives advice there is no penalty, but you must request them not to. You may not give advice to any team member other than your partner.

  1. If you are unsure of a Rule or procedure try and resolve it with your opponent immediately (Rule 20.1b).

If you cannot agree, a claim must be made before teeing-off at the next hole. You must notify your opponent that you are making a claim, agree the facts and ask the Committee for a ruling.

  1. When a Player knows of an Opponent’s Breach of Rule (Exception to Rule3.2d(2))

In Match Play, you do not have to call a penalty on your opponent if you witness a breach of a Rule by them. They do not get a penalty because you were aware of the breach, but DO NOT discuss it with them before teeing off at the next hole, or you could both be disqualified for agreeing to waive a Rule.

  1. Informing an Opponent of Breach of Rule (Rule 3.2d(2)).

You must tell your opponent about any penalty that you incur, failure to do so and you lose the hole. However, if you correct your mistake before your opponent makes another stroke or takes another action e.g. conceding the next stroke or hole, then only the penalty for the breach is applied.

  1. Handicapping (Rule 3.2c and 3.2d(3))

You and your opponent must declare your handicaps before the start of a match, if a handicap is declared that is too high the player is disqualified; if it is too low, there is no penalty and the player must play off the declared lower handicap.

If a player mistakenly applies handicap strokes on a hole, the agreed result of the hole must stand, unless the players correct the mistake before a stroke is made at the next hole or for the final hole, the match result is agreed.

  1. Stopping and Resuming Play Rule(5.7b(2) and 5.7c)

Players in a match may agree to stop play for any reason, except if doing so would delay the competition. If they agree to stop and then one player wants to resume play, they must resume play, if one player refuses to resume play, he or she is disqualified.

  1. Advice (Rule 10.2a)

If you are given advice by a spectator, there is no penalty, but you must ensure that it does not continue. If it does you will lose the hole.

You are, however, allowed to give advice to your partner.

Download “Rules of Match Play - PDF” Match-Play-2019.pdf – Downloaded 566 times – 267 KB

Download “Rules of Match Play - Word” Match-Play-2019-1.docx – Downloaded 168 times – 101 KB

2 Replies to “Rules of Match Play”

  1. If you play a mixed matchplay competition and the men tee off first with their ball of their choice is it cheating when it comes to the ladies teeing off with their own ball or must they tee with the ball used by the man on the first tee?

    1. Provided the competition does not have a ‘One Ball’ local rule in operation then it is quite permissible to play with different balls.

      It does not mean that you have to literally play with the same ball as your partner, only a ball of the same make and model.

      In formats where players play one ball, then partners may agree to play a particular make and model of ball that one partner prefers, but this does not tie them to having to use that specific make and brand to play out the hole or the whole round. There may be times when the ball has to be substituted and players do not necessarily have the same ball in their bag.

      The one ball rule is an optional condition that Committees may choose to use. If this rule is in effect, you must play with the same brand, make and model of golf ball that you started the round with. This means that if you start playing with a Titleist Pro V1, you must play a Titleist Pro V1 for the remainder of the round and may not switch to another brand or even another model of Titleist golf ball (see Committee Procedures; Model Local Rule G-4).

      This rule is usually reserved for elite competitions especially those played by the professional golfers, normal Club and County Competitions do not adopt this rule.

Leave a Reply

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