What's So Different about Match Play?

A lot!  That’s why there are so many “strange occurrences” that seem to happen.

First of all, Rule 2-1 tells us “a match consists of one side playing against another over a stipulated round unless otherwise decreed by the Committee.” Match play is a horse of a different color compared to stroke play when it comes to Rules. Primarily, because the rights of another 88 or 154 players do not have to be defended by the Committee. It is just a match between you and I, or us and them, and the only thing any of the other players in the tournament want to know is who won our match?

You’ll find that there are no two stroke penalties in match play. And some of the disqualification penalties in stroke play are only loss of hole penalties in match play. You don’t even have to finish the hole in match play; you can concede your opponent’s next stroke or vice versa. If you get to hole you just can’t stand, you can even concede that hole and save yourself from losing three balls in the water!

Granted, the match is played under the Rules of Golf but sometimes players may not be aware of a Rules infraction. As long as they do not agree to waive the Rules, but instead are ignorant of the Rules, the results of their match will stand. For instance, if one player unknowingly played a stroke at a ball that was out of bounds, as long as his opponent did not lodge a claim, the results of the hole stand.

Conversely, if two players knowingly agree not to play a particularly difficult hole or agree to omit a couple of holes they do not like, they would be disqualified for not playing the stipulated round (Decision 2-1/3). However, if the players had inadvertently omitted a hole in playing their match, the result of the match would stand (Decision 2-1/3).

In fact, Rule 33-1 informs us that “certain specific Rules governing stroke play are so substantially different from those governing match play that combining the two forms of play is not practical and not permitted. The result of match of a played in these circumstances is null and void and, in the stroke play competition, the competitors are disqualified.”

So the next time you go out to play a match, brush up on Rule 2 “Match Play” and enjoy the day.

Remember, it pays to know the Rules. Knowing the Rules of Golf can help you win a match and enjoy the game of golf.

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