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Match Play RandA Rule 3.2

Purpose: Match play has specific Rules (particularly about concessions and giving information about the number of strokes taken) because the player and opponent:

  • Compete solely against each other on every hole,
  • Can see each other’s play, and
  • Can protect their own interests.

a  Result of Hole and Match

(1) Winning a Hole. A player wins a hole when:

  • The player completes the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes) than the opponent,
  • The opponent concedes the hole, or
  • The opponent gets the general penalty (loss of hole).

If the opponent’s ball in motion needs to be holed to tie the hole and the ball is deliberately deflected or stopped by any person at a time when there is no reasonable chance it can be holed (such as when the ball has rolled past the hole and will not roll back there), the result of the hole has been decided and the player wins the hole (see Rule 11.2a, Exception).

(2) Tying a Hole. A hole is tied (also known as “halved”) when:

  • The player and opponent complete the hole in the same number of strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes), or
  • The player and opponent agree to treat the hole as tied (but this is allowed only after at least one of the players has made a stroke to begin the hole).

(3) Winning a Match. A player wins a match when:

  • The player leads the opponent by more holes than remain to be played,
  • The opponent concedes the match, or
  • The opponent is disqualified.

(4) Extending a Tied Match. If a match is tied after the final hole:

  • The match is extended one hole at a time until there is a winner. See Rule 5.1 (an extended match is a continuation of the same round, not a new round).
  • The holes are played in the same order as in the round, unless the Committee sets a different order.

But the Terms of the Competition may say that the match will end in a tie rather than be extended.

(5) When Result is Final. The result of a match becomes final in the way stated by the Committee (which should be set out in the Terms of the Competition), such as:

  • When the result is recorded on an official scoreboard or other identified place, or
  • When the result is reported to a person identified by the Committee.

See Committee Procedures, Section 5A(7) (recommendations on how the result of a match becomes final).

b  Concessions

(1) Player May Concede Stroke, Hole or Match. A player may concede the opponent’s next stroke, a hole or the match:

  • Conceding Next Stroke. This is allowed any time before the opponent’s next stroke is made.
    • The opponent has then completed the hole with a score that includes that conceded stroke, and the ball may be removed by anyone.
    • A concession made while the opponent’s ball is still in motion after the previous stroke applies to the opponent’s next stroke, unless the ball is holed (in which case the concession does not matter).
    • The player may concede the opponent’s next stroke by deflecting or stopping the opponent’s ball in motion only if that is done specifically to concede the next stroke and only when there is no reasonable chance the ball can be holed.
  • Conceding a Hole. This is allowed any time before the hole is completed (see Rule 6.5), including before the players start the hole.
  • Conceding the Match. This is allowed any time before the result of the match is decided (see Rules 3.2a(3) and (4)), including before the players start the match.

(2) How Concessions Are Made. A concession is made only when clearly communicated:

  • This can be done either verbally or by an action that clearly shows the player’s intent to concede the stroke, the hole or the match (such as making a gesture).
  • If the opponent lifts his or her ball in breach of a Rule because of a reasonable misunderstanding that the player’s statement or action was a concession of the next stroke or the hole or match, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).

A concession is final and cannot be declined or withdrawn.

c  Applying Handicaps in Handicap Match

(1) Declaring Handicaps. The player and opponent should tell each other their handicaps before the match.

If a player declares a wrong handicap either before or during the match and does not correct the mistake before the opponent makes his or her next stroke:

  • Declared Handicap Too High. The player is disqualified if this affects the number of strokes the player gives or gets. If it does not, there is no penalty.
  • Declared Handicap Too Low. There is no penalty and the player must play off the declared lower handicap.

(2) Holes Where Handicap Strokes Applied.

  • Handicap strokes are given by hole, and the lower net score wins the hole.
  • If a tied match is extended, handicap strokes are given by hole in the same way as in the round (unless the Committee sets a different way of doing so).

Each player is responsible for knowing the holes where he or she gives or gets handicap strokes, based on the stroke index allocation set by the Committee (which is usually found on the scorecard).

If the players mistakenly apply handicap strokes on a hole, the agreed result of the hole stands, unless the players correct that mistake in time (see Rule 3.2d(3)).

d  Responsibilities of Player and Opponent

(1) Telling Opponent about Number of Strokes Taken. At any time during play of a hole or after the hole is completed, the opponent may ask the player for the number of strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes) the player has taken on the hole.
This is to allow the opponent to decide how to play the next stroke and the rest of the hole, or to confirm the result of the hole just completed.

When asked for the number of strokes taken, or when giving that information without being asked:

  • The player must give the right number of strokes taken.
  • A player who fails to respond to the opponent’s request is treated as giving the wrong number of strokes taken.

The player gets the general penalty (loss of hole) if he or she gives the opponent the wrong number of strokes taken, unless the player corrects that mistake in time:

  • Wrong Number of Strokes Given While Playing Hole. The player must give the right number of strokes taken before the opponent makes another stroke or takes a similar action (such as conceding the player’s next stroke or the hole).
  • Wrong Number of Strokes Given After Hole Completed. The player must give the right number of strokes taken:
    • Before either player makes a stroke to begin another hole or takes a similar action (such as conceding the next hole or the match) or,
    • For the final hole of the match, before the result of the match is final (see Rule 3.2a(5)).

Exception – No Penalty If No Effect on Result of Hole: If the player gives the wrong number of strokes taken after a hole is completed but this does not affect the opponent’s understanding of whether the hole was won, lost or tied, there is no penalty.

(2) Telling Opponent about Penalty. When a player gets a penalty:

  • The player must tell the opponent about that penalty as soon as reasonably possible, taking into account how near the player is to the opponent and other practical factors.
  • This requirement applies even if the player does not know about the penalty (because players are expected to recognize when they have breached a Rule).

If the player fails to do so and does not correct that mistake before the opponent makes another stroke or takes a similar action (such as conceding the player’s next stroke or the hole), the player gets the general penalty (loss of hole).

Exception – No Penalty When Opponent Knew of Player’s Penalty: If the opponent knew that the player had a penalty, such as when seeing the player obviously take penalty relief, the player gets no penalty for failing to tell the opponent about it.

(3) Knowing Match Score. The players are expected to know the match score – that is, whether one of them leads by a certain number of holes (“holes up” in the match) or the match is tied (also known as “all square”).

If the players mistakenly agree on a wrong match score:

  • They may correct the match score before either player makes a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole, before the result of the match is final (see Rule 3.2a(5)).
  • If not corrected in that time, that wrong match score becomes the actual match score.

Exception – When Player Requests Ruling in Time: If the player makes a timely request for a ruling (see Rule 20.1b), and it is found that the opponent either (1) gave the wrong number of strokes taken or (2) failed to tell the player about a penalty, the wrong match score must be corrected.

(4) Protecting Own Rights and Interests. The players in a match should protect their own rights and interests under the Rules:

  • If the player knows or believes that the opponent has breached a Rule that has a penalty, the player may act on the breach or choose to ignore it.
  • But if the player and opponent deliberately agree to ignore a breach or penalty they know applies, both players are disqualified under Rule 1.3b.
  • If the player and opponent disagree whether one of them has breached a Rule, either player may protect his or her rights by asking for a ruling under Rule 20.1b.
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