Saturday, 10 March 2012

Differences in Match Play Rules (2)

Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images North America, 2009

Two blogs ago I covered four areas in which the Rules of match play differ from those of stroke play. Here are some more, but please remember that the two blogs should be read together to obtain the full picture;

•    A player may practice anywhere on the course, on the day of the match. Rule 7-1.
•    If you play a stroke and your ball hits your opponent, his caddie, or his equipment you can choose whether to replay the stroke or accept it and play your next shot from where it comes to rest. Rule 19-3. This might not seem fair if your wild shank has hit your opponent where it hurts and stops at his feet, but that is the Rule, so use it when it benefits you.
•    Similarly, if a player, when starting a hole, plays a ball from outside the teeing ground, there is no penalty, but the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke and play a ball from within the teeing ground.
•    Here is an unusual one, which not many match players know about. If a putt from the putting green hits another ball at rest on the putting green, whether it is your side or your opponents' there is no penalty in match play, whereas there is a two stokes penalty in stroke play. Rule 19-5. Just play your ball from where it comes to rest and ensure that the ball that you moved is replaced back to where it was.
•    You are not required to keep a score card in match play, as each hole is either won by one side or the other, or halved between them, and the winner is the player who wins the most holes. For example, if a player is 3 holes up and there are only two holes of the stipulated round remaining the match is over with a result of 3 and 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. Not so in match play, where players may discontinue their match by agreement, unless by so doing the competition is delayed.
•    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 round again.
•    Unlike stroke play, where you have an obligation to your fellow competitors to report every breach of a Rule that you witness, you do not have to in match play situations, 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. It does not affect anyone other entrant in the match play competition. However, you still must not say anything to your opponent, as under Rule 1-3 there cannot be agreement with your opponent to waive any penalty incurred by either side.
•    If a player incurs a penalty that was not observed by their opponent they must inform the opponent as soon as practicable. If the player fails to do so before their opponent makes their next stroke they lose the hole, Rule 9-2b. This penalty also applies if a player gives incorrect information during play of a hole regarding the number of strokes taken and does not correct the mistake before their opponent makes their next stroke.

Finally, players competing against each other in a match are opponents; in stroke play a fellow-competitor is any person with whom the competitor plays their round. Neither is partner of the other.

I hope that by overviewing these differences you will understand why it is not permitted to play a stroke play competition at the same time as a match play round of golf, Rule 33-1. Match play is a great format but when you play make sure that you understand where the Rules differ from those that you are more familiar with.

Good golfing,
If your Club/Society plays match play golf you should check out my quiz on Match Play Rules. It could mean the difference between your side winning and losing. Click here for more information.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.


Anonymous said...

Love the blog, Barry.

Is there a difference between match play and stroke play in the way that they deal with a player incurring a penalty due to their actions after holing out? (Putting aside the general penalty difference of loss of hole versus 2 shot penalty.)

For example, D1-1/4 cites the stroke play situation of a person hitting a wrong ball but no penalty applies because their tee shot had been holed without their knowledge with their previous shot. Also, I can't find any decisions relating to stroke play that show a player's completed score for a hole having to be increased for a rules breach incurred after they holed out.

On the other hand, there are a few match play decisions, such as D2-2/1 that show a player incurring a penalty after holing out.

Consider the following situation:
Playing a par 4, A's ball is in a greenside bunker for 3 and B is just off the green for 2 and has a longish putt. A is away and holes his bunker shot for four. While A moves toward the flag to get his ball, B putts. A, having a senior moment, worries that B will incur a penalty if he hits the flag so he rushes and pulls it out, without B's authority, just before the B's ball rolls closely by the hole.

On my reading of the rules, if it is match play, A has just lost the hole, incurring the R17-2 penalty.

If it is stroke play, has A just incurred a 2 shot penalty, also under R17-2, making his score for the hole a 6?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Barry Rhodes said...


I am not aware of there being any difference in the way the Rules deal with a player incurring a penalty due to their actions after holing out. The principle of the ruling in Decision 1/4 is the same in match play.

There are many instances where a player in stroke play can be penalised after completing a hole, e.g. R4-3, R-6-4, R7-2 and R8-1.

Rule 2-2 only applies to match play. In stroke play the player would incur the general penalty under Rule 8-1a for giving advice.

Your rulings are correct in the unlikely circumstance that you describe relating to the unauthorised removal of the flagstick while a ball was in motion. A loses the hole in match play, or incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play.

It seems as though you could benefit from my eDocument, ‘So You Are Going to Play Match Play!’ from my web site.


Anonymous said...

Hi Barry. Some interesting things happening re playing match and stroke concurrently in the country where I play and referee. A series of match play finals were played during a social stroke play event. I challenged the match play winner when I saw his stableford score entered on Master Scoreboard, meaning that he signed a card and handed it in. To me, that in itself is enough to void the match play result as stroke was being played. They said that there was an understanding but did not explicitly agree (not sure how you actually do that) that they would hole out and keep scores for tracking, which usually means for various side bets. That could be OK but handing the card in and not the least getting a handicap addition, as the case was, can't be possible. The main thing I wanted to ask you is that if the two players agreed or had an understanding to not conceded any putts so as to record a score, is that tantamount to agreeing to waive the rules? I could not find a decision on this so interested to know. Thanks so much.

Barry Rhodes said...


Part of Rule 33-1 states;

Certain specific Rules governing stroke play are so substantially different from those governing match play that combining the two forms of play is not practicable and is not permitted. The result of a match played in these circumstances is null and void and, in the stroke play competition, the competitors are disqualified.

Certainly an 'understanding' between opponents not to make any concession is waiving a Rule of Golf, which also incurs the penalty of disqualification.