Match Play Primer for Golf

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 two primary forms of competition in golf. It pits players one against another, rather than one against the field as in stroke play. Opponents in match play 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 vs. one, and that is known as singles match play. Or teams of two players can square off in what is called doubles match play, with various formats (Foursomes and Fourball being the most common ones) available for team matches.

The following articles explore match play in-depth, from formats to scoring to rules differences with stroke play and more.

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 Terminology

Most of the important match play terms are explored within the articles listed above, such as the meanings of such scores as 1-up and 3-and-2. "All square," for example, means the two golfers (or two sides) in a match have each won the same number of holes, so that they stand tied. To go more in-depth on a few of the more important terms, check out the definitions of conceded putt (a k a, a concession), dormie, halved, fourballs and foursomes.