Wednesday, 27 March 2013

So You Are Going to Play Match Play!

I have a new, downloadable document that I think will be of interest to those readers that play, or are anticipating playing, match play golf. If you have been following my blogs on the Rules you will be aware that there are several Rules for match play that are significantly different to those for stroke play. More about this later.

First, I want to highlight one particular area of difference in these two formats of golf, which relates to the situation where one player observes another player breaching a Rule of Golf. In match play, players may choose to ignore any breach of the Rules made by an opponent, because only the players on each side of their match are involved; there is no responsibility to protect the interests of other players entered in the same competition. Whereas in stroke play, a competitor who knows that a fellow competitor has breached a Rule, even if they are not their marker, should bring to light the transgression by notifying the player, their marker or the Committee, because in this case the interests of every other player in the competition are affected if a competitor returns a score that does not include a penalty that they had incurred.

However, there is a very important aspect to this option of ignoring an opponent’s breach of a Rule in match play that I want to emphasise, as I have seen many players open themselves to disqualification by not being aware of it. A player who observes an opponent’s breach of Rule and does not want to penalise them for it, usually out of courtesy when the breach is something unintentional that does not result in any benefit, must keep quiet and not mention it, at least until one of them has teed off at the next hole (edited 29th March 2013). Because, if they do bring the breach to the attention of their opponent, but do not then penalise them for it, both sides should be disqualified for agreeing to waive a Rule. Decision 1-3/4 states;

Failure of Players to Apply Known Penalty
Q. In a match, a player discovers at the 2nd hole that he has 15 clubs in his bag contrary to Rule 4-4a, but his opponent refuses to apply the penalty. The extra club is declared out of play and the match continues. The Committee disqualifies both players. Is this correct?

A. Yes. Since the players agreed to waive the penalty, they should be disqualified under Rule 1-3.
Although, in the above Decision it was the player who realised that he had breached a Rule and the opponent acquiesced, the same principle applies if it was the opponent who had discovered the 15th club, had pointed it out to the player, but then said that he was not going to impose the penalty incurred. Both players are disqualified under Rule 1-3.

If the above has been of interest to you, I am sure that you will benefit from knowing all of the differences between match play and stroke play Rules. I have authored a comprehensive document detailing them over 19 headings. I am confident that by reading this document just once you will be better prepared for match play golf, whether you are a team manager, team member, or an individual who enters match play competitions. It could make the difference between you winning or losing!

The introductory price of ‘So You Are Going to Play Match Play!’ is just $7 (€5.50 / £4.50). Click on this link for more details and to purchase.

Good golfing,

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.


Anonymous said...

Today 2 players were in a match play at our ladies league. One plare told the other she should incur a stroke for tapping her ball prior to teeing off. In defense of herself the player who tapped her ball said she had not addressed the ball so she should not count it as a stroke. The 2 players decided to wait until the end of their game to ask our rules person what the rule was. The rule person said that the player who tapped her ball should have played 2 balls until then of that hole, then come in and ask what the rule is. Therefore, the player who tapped her ball lost that hole and lost the tournament. Is this a correct way to handle a dispute?

Barry Rhodes said...


First, there is no penalty for a player tapping her ball prior to teeing off. How could there be? A ball is not in play until a stroke has been made at it on the teeing ground, Rule 11-3.

Second the 'rules person' was wrong to say that the player should have played two balls on that hole and then obtained a ruling. It is not permitted to play two balls in stroke play. This is an extract from my blog dated 24th February 2012;

If you are unsure of a Rule, or a procedure, in match play the Rules don’t permit you to play a second ball, as they do in stroke play. What you have to do, is try and resolve the issue with your opponent. If you can’t agree, a claim has to be made before teeing-off at the next hole. You must notify your opponent that you’re making a claim, agree the facts of the situation and make it clear that you’ll be asking for a Committee ruling. Rule 2-5.


Anonymous said...

I played a matchplay yesterday. My opponent and I were on the green. He was further from the hole and putted close to the hole. He then proceeded the put the ball into the hole standing on my line. Although we halved the hole, I imposed a penalty and took the hole. He challenged this later in the clubhouse after the card was signed. Was I correct in imposing a penalty? If so, do I disqualify myself?

Barry Rhodes said...


You were wrong to claim the hole and your opponent was wrong to concede it to you without making a valid claim, so the result of the hole stands. When your opponent putted out without your permission, he played out of turn and you were entitled to ask him to cancel his stroke and make the putt again after you had played. The fact that he stood on your line of putt is not a breach or Rule, unless he was doing so intentionally to make your putt more difficult, but is was certainly poor etiquette.

As soon as you had played from the next teeing ground it was too late for your opponent to make a claim, so effectively he had conceded the hole when he accepted your incorrect ruling and played on without making a claim under Rule 2-5.