Stroke Play & Match Play

What’s the Difference Between Stroke Play and Match Play?

The main difference between stroke play and match play is that In Stroke Play, all players are simply playing each hole in attempt to have the total lowest scores at the end. In Match Play, two players are playing against each other, with each one trying to score the lowest on individual holes. In Match Play a player will either win, lose or tie each hole. If you tie a hole you “halve a hole”.

Most “weekend golf” is usually Stroke Play, but we’ve found that for newer golfers (or if you’re struggling a bit with your swing, as we often are) it can be fun to play Match Play for the simple reason that you can concede a hole – which means you don’t have to putt out on every single hole.

Conceding A Hole

In Match Play, you may concede a hole at any time. This means that you are telling the other player that they just won the hole. In that situation, you would both pick up your balls and move on to the next hole.

Are The Rules Different For Stroke Play and Match Play?

The simple answer is yes and no. Most of the basic rules are exactly the same, but the penalties for violating these rules will depend if you are playing stroke play or match play. Doing what you would consider friendly such as “offering advice,” which most of us would consider friendly and polite, is actually a penalty in Match Play and would mean the loss of a hole.

Opponent vs Fellow Competitor

You might be in the habit of referring to the people you’re playing within a tournament or event as “opponents” but they are only referred to as opponents if you are playing Match Play. In a Stroke Play round the other players are your “fellow competitors”.

And it’s worth mentioning that when you’re playing a tournament or guest day that is regular stroke play, you are all playing, “against the field,' which means you’re not allowed to concede putts (because that affects the other players’ standings).

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