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Match Play Primer

Rules, Formats, Strategy and Terminology for Match Play


Martin Kaymer shows the passions of match play

Match play is one-on-one golf competition, which can stir great passions as in Martin Kaymer above, pictured after making the winning putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Match play is one of the main forms of competition in golf. It pits players one against another, rather than one against the field as in stroke play. Opponents compete to win individual holes, and the player who wins the most holes wins the match.

Match play can be played by two individuals, one on one, and that is known as Singles Match Play. Or teams of two players can square off, with Foursomes and Fourball the most common formats for team play.

To learn more about match play, explore the topics below:

Keeping Score in Match Play
1-up, 2-down, 3-and-2, 5-and-3 ... dormie, halved, all square ... what does it all mean? This article explains how score is kept in match play, and what all those numbers mean.

Match Play Formats
The most common match play formats are singles, foursomes and fourballs. This articles explains the basics of how each format works.

Rules Differences in Match Play
The rules for match play and stroke play differ in key ways, the most basic being the very way the two types of golf are played. This article explores some of the differences, large and small, in the rules for match play and stroke play.

Match Play Strategy
Many golfers love match play for its different strategies. Golfers have a lot to consider when playing match play, and this article goes into the different strategies and tactics that are employed.

Match Play Terms
Our glossary of golf terms includes a few definitions that beginners may need in order to understand match play. Click on a term to get its definition:
All Square
Conceded Putt

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