Match Play


"Match play" is a competition format in which the round is played with the goal of winning individual holes. For example, on No. 1, you score 4 and your opponent gets a 5 - you win the hole.

Scoring is kept by comparing the holes won by each player. If each has won the same number of holes, the match is said to be "all square". If you have won 4 holes and your opponent has won 3, you are said to be "1-up" while your foe is "1-down."

Final score reflects the margin of victory and the hole at which the match ended. If the match goes the full 18 holes, the score would be 1-up or 2-up. If it ends before the 18th, the score would look like "3-and-2" (the winner was 3 holes up with only two holes to play, thus ending the match early).

For a fuller explanation of match play, see our Match Play Primer, which goes into match play scoring, match play formats, plus rules and strategies, as well as more match play terms such as dormie.

Match play can be played by individuals or by teams. Through the early history of golf, most golf tournaments and matches were played as match play; today, stroke play is the more common competition format.

Examples: The Golf Guide lost the Match Play Championship by an embarrassing score of 8-and-7.