The Lesson Tee: Match play vs. stroke play

Rod Sims
The Lesson Tee

When I teach my students to play golf, not only am I teaching them the golf swing, but I am also teaching them the rules of the game.

Usually, my friends and I will meet at the course we decide to play and we most often engage in a friendly game of "stroke play." The player with the lowest stroke total after nine or 18 holes wins the match.

Rod Sims

We generally don't play for large amounts of money because I don't have large amounts of money anymore. Plus, as a member of the PGA, I am not allowed to gamble away all my retirement income.

Sometimes, we play a game called "match play." In match play, you either win, lose, or tie a hole depending on your score. Typically, there is only two players in a match. If you score a five on the first hole and I score a six, you win the hole and I become one down.

If I am two down with one hole to go, I lose the match. If you need me to further explain the rules of match play, just give me a call and I'll be happy to talk you through the process.

I remember, back in the day, I had a few friends who could all beat me in stroke play. However, in match play, I often came out on top because I was crafty or just darn lucky.

For example, in stroke play, you might shoot a 39 for nine holes and I might shoot a 44. In match play, I could still win the match by one up. Remember, it is a hole-by-hole competition and the match can go on until someone wins.