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.


USGA Senior Amateur Championship

PAR AND YARDAGE The Farm Golf Club will be set up at 6,737/6,763 and par is 36-3672.

Teeing ground - Height of grass -- 425 inches
Fairways Height of grass -- .450 inches
Green approaches and closely mown areas Height of grass -- .425 inches
Collars around greens Height of grass -- .230 inches
Intermediate rough USGA asked for addition of intermediate rough that will be cut to 1 inches and 6-feet wide
Primary rough 2 inches
Putting greens USGA Stimpmeter reading of 11 feet

VENUE The Farm Golf Club was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1988. Located between Atlanta and Chattanooga in northwest Georgia, The Farm benefits from significant elevation changes, which provide a scenic and difficult test of golf.

HISTORY The USGA Senior Amateur Championship was first played in 1955. The 2005 Senior Amateur Championship will be the 51st.

SCHEDULE Stroke play rounds will be played Sept. 17-18 (Saturday-Sunday). Following two days of stroke play, the field of 157 golfers will be reduced to the lowest 64 scorers, who will advance to match play. The match play portion of the Championship runs from September 19-22 (Monday-Thursday). The first round is set for Sept. 19 (9:30 a.m. start); the second and third rounds for Sept. 20 (8:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. starts) and the quarterfinals and semifinals (8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. starts) for Sept. 21. The 18-hole, match-play final (9 a.m.) is scheduled for Sept. 22.

CAN I PLAY? The USGA Senior Amateur Championship is open to amateurs who will have reached their 55th birthday on or before Sept. 17, 2005, and who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4.

ENTRIES The USGA accepted a record 2,498 entries for the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, the fifth consecutive year entries topped 2,200. The previous record of 2,420 entries was set in 2004. The deadline for entries was July 27.

TICKETS Admission and parking are free for all six days of the championship.

DEFENDING CHAMPION In the finals of the 2004 championship, Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago, Wis., reversed the outcome of the 2002 by defeating Greg Reynolds, 4 and 3, at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. In 2002, Reynolds had beaten Bemowski by the same margin.


USGA Senior 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