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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.


Hole 1

Hole 2

Hole 3

Hole 4

Hole 5

Hole 6

Hole 7

Hole 8

 

1 up

2 up

2up

1 up

AS

   

AS

Player A

4

4

5

6

5

x

4

3

Player B

5

7

5

5

3

4

4

5

         

AS

1 up

1up

AS


 
Championship Facts

USGA Senior Amateur

WHO CAN PLAY The USGA Senior Amateur Championship is open to amateurs who will have reached their 55th birthday on or before Sept. 20, 2008, and who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4.

ENTRIES Entries for the 2008 championship closed Aug. 6. The USGA accepted 2,393 entries for the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur Championship. It marked the eighth consecutive year entries topped 2,200. The record of 2,498 entries was set in 2005.

SECTIONAL QUALIFYING Sectional qualifying (18 holes) was conducted Aug. 15 - Sept. 2 at 50 sites across the country. For complete results, click here.

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY This will be the 54th USGA Senior Amateur Championship. It was first played in 1955.

SCHEDULE Practice rounds will be held Sept. 18 (Thursday) and Sept. 19 (Friday). The starting field of 156 players will play two rounds of stroke play, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play. The schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 20 (Saturday) First round of stroke play
  • Sept. 21 (Sunday) Second round of stroke play
  • Sept. 22 (Monday) First round of match play
  • Sept. 23 (Tuesday) Second and third rounds of match play
  • Sept. 24 (Wednesday) Quarterfinals and semifinals, match play
  • Sept. 25 (Thursday) Final, match play (18 holes)
  • PAR AND YARDAGE Shady Oaks Country Club will be set up 6,597 (stroke play)/6,679 (match play) yards and par 35-36-71.

    COURSE SET-UP The fairways will measure 0.40-0.50 inches in height. The intermediate rough will measure 1 inches, with a width of approximately 6 feet. The primary rough will stand 2 inches high. The greens will measure approximately 10.5 feet on the Stimpmeter.

    COURSE RATING AND SLOPE The USGA Course RatingTM for Shady Oaks Country Club is 73.0; Slope Rating® is 137.

     

     
     

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