How Match Play Works

Most players know about Stroke Play - every shot is counted and added up and the player with the lowest score of all wins. But Match Play (the oldest form of golf) is not as commonly understood. Perhaps the following explanation will help.

In a USGA amateur Championship, there are two days of stroke play qualifying to determine exactly the 64 players who will make it to match play. The "Match Play Tree" is then established -- much like a tennis tournament or NCAA basketball - and players are seeded according to how they played during stroke play.

Match play is a competition played by holes rather than total strokes for the round. In USGA amateur Championships, two opponents play against each other and while there may be other players on the course, each group is its own match and has nothing to do with the rest of the field. The winners of each match keep advancing until there is only one player left. With 64 players, this occurs after 6 matches.

For example, let's look at the imaginary match between players A and B below. A match always starts at "All Square," that is, the match is even, no one has an advantage or disadvantage. A wins the 1st hole, so is "1 up." After A wins the 2nd hole, A is then "2 up." (It doesn't matter how many strokes the hole is won by, no more than "1 up" can be the result of the scores from any one hole.)

The players halve the 3rd hole, so there is no change in the status of the match. B then wins the 4th hole, which leaves A only 1 up. B wins the 5th hole, so the match returns to All Square ("AS"). B then wins the 6th hole, and takes the lead 1 up. And so on.

Notice that a score does not have to be recorded in match play (see the "x" on the 6th hole for A). The result of the hole (won, loss, or halved) simply needs to be determined. In fact, "conceding" is allowed. Player A, for example, can concede the 6th hole to B without finishing it. Players may also concede that their opponents will hole out with their next strokes; therefore, if B wants to concede A's one foot putt on the 7th hole for a 4, B can - and A doesn't have to putt.

The match goes on in this fashion until one player is leading by a greater number than the number of holes left to be played. For example, if B is 5 up with 4 holes left to play, the match is over as A can not possibly come back. B is said to have won the match, "5 and 4." If the players are still All Square after the 18th hole, the match is continued hole by hole until a winner is determined. So, if A and B play the 1st and 2nd holes again, halving both, and A wins the 3rd hole, A is said to have won the match, "21 Holes."

We hope this will assist in your understanding of match play and specifically the method of scoring that is used. Please contact the USGA Rules Department with any additional match play questions.


U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship

TICKETS – Admission and parking for all seven days of the championship are free of charge.

WHO CAN PLAY? – The U.S. Women’s Amateur is open to female amateurs who have USGA Handicap Indexes not exceeding 5.4. Entries closed June 15.

DEFENDING CHAMPION – Jane Park, 18, or Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will defend the title she won in 2004.

THE FIELD – The 2005 field will include seven Georgia players. They are Laura Coble of Augusta, Jackie Beers of Bonaire, Alina Lee of Evans, Kyu Ri Ban of Duluth, Dori Carter of Valdosta, Diana Ramage of Fayetteville and Margaret Shirley of Roswell.

TELEVISION COVERAGE – Match-play rounds will be telecast on The Golf Channel Aug. 3-7 from 4-6 p.m., EDT.

OTHER PROMINENT PAST CHAMPIONS – Patty Berg, 1938; Betty Jameson, 1939, 1940; Babe Didrickson Zaharias, 1946; Louise Suggs, 1947; Beth Daniel, 1975, 1977; Juli Simpson (Inkster), 1980, 1981, 1982; Pat Hurst, 1990; Kelli Kuehne, 1995, 1996; Grace Park, 1998; Dorothy Delasin, 1999.

CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE CONDITIONS – The following mowing heights will be used for the championship: fairways 1/2"; tees 7/16"; collars 1/4". Putting greens will be prepared so that they are firm and fast; to measure approximately 11 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter. Intermediate rough: 1", width approximately 72" along fairways, width approximately 30" wide around putting greens. Primary rough: 2 1/4".

FUTURE WOMEN’S AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP SITES – The 2006 U. S. Women’s Amateur will be conducted at Pumpkin Ridge G.C., North Plains, Ore., Aug. 7 – 13.

MEDIA CONTACT – The Media Center for the U.S. Women’s Amateur will be located in the main clubhouse at Ansley Golf Club. Rhonda Glenn and Beth Murrison will be the USGA staff members on site. The Media Center phone numbers are (678)639-7488 and (678)639-7494.


U.S. Women's Amateur and United States Golf Association are registered service marks of the United States Golf Association (USGA) Copyright © 2005. United States Golf Association. All Rights Reserved. Use of this Web site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Visit The USGA